Anyway, to navigate around this dumpster fire and back to the point. RPS used to be full of playful writing, thought-provoking content, and yes political points. The key thing is that they were made well, without hectoring. The political point wasn’t forced, it was valid and done in an inclusive way, that we could all take the piss out of the stupid stuff people were doing (like female armour, or banning games with sex in them but being fine with horrendous violence), because taking the piss is the best way to change views, not hectoring.
In some ways I think Gamergate and the general toxicity of the gaming community has made writers more defensive, and perhaps that’s where some of the tonal problems come from. If you’re writing something that covers some feminist point, you’re going to get the alt-right arseholes in the comments (not so much here, but the key point is that the writers have written elsewhere and those experiences will have scarred them on some level). So you write to have a go at them, forgetting that actually the sensible way to approach things is to talk to the wavering middle, the people who aren’t actively evil, who perhaps could be gently nudged into thinking about things they’ve done, and how they could do better. You get more end result from that than shouting at people.
It reminds me of the guys in the town centre where I live, who get the megafone out and tell us all we’re sinners who are going to hell. How many people are they going to convert? Not many, I’d wager. But a well-written story about an experience someone had, told with empathy, not assuming that a disagreeing reader is hitler, that can change minds. Good writing can do that. Good writing has certainly made me think about some of my own behaviour and made me change for the better, but hectoring never had that effect.
I know you want to try as hard as you can, but sometimes a bit of finesse goes further. Like driving a racing car, if you throw it in too hard on every corner you’ll cost yourself seconds per lap, where if you ease off a little, you won’t look so impressive, but you’ll absolutely monster it and win every damn time (for those who don’t know - top gear style sideways and shitloads of tyre smoke is the slowest way around a track while smooth and silky is the fastest but it’s not such good TV).
FFS I’ve gone to the politics again, so I’ll get away from it again. Good quality content. I can get game reviews anywhere, but RPS used to give a unique perspective on a game. Not just “this is an RPG and the graphics are 8/10”, but a subjective narrative of the experience of being in the game, which told me much more about whether I’d like it. I used to know the writers, so I’d know that if s/he didn’t like X, I’d be likely to agree or disagree with that (and where John Walker’s concerned I tend to work on the basis that he’s 90% wrong - especially as half the problem is that he’s created an echo chamber in his own image).
RPS told great stories, and I miss those. Now it’s just little clips of ‘game x got released’, and the crappy hardware reviews that really don’t offer anything of value, and the politics shoe-horned in. I used to open RPS and know there’d be something there I’d want to read. That rarely happens now.
Regarding other sites - PC Gamer is ok for reviews, a fair amount of other content is the same press-releases disguised as news that other sites have, but they do have some decent bits that remind me of the old RPS in some ways. As others have said, the comments are a cesspit, and frankly someone should be moderating that shit, just as needs to happen on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc. (as an aside, the internet is a cesspit because while in the old days people posted on forums owned by people who would get sued if bad things were on their site, now they post on twitter and facebook and youtube, big companies who don’t want to spend money on moderators, and who have enough power that they can get away with stuff the guy/girl running the forum couldn’t - this created a space for arseholes to flourish with all the social consequences we see today).
Anyway, that’s quite enough for now, I didn’t intend to write war and peace but seem to have done so. Thanks all who have suggested sites, I’ve had a look at them, and hopefully one day I’ll find something to match the quality of the RPS of old.