Posted this on Reddit, and I thought I would make a blog out of it while the iron is hot. You might remember me from the sex and gender thread I made a couple of weeks ago.
Full disclosure. I say this as a white man, a demographic that the games journalism industry is composed almost entirely of. I also say this not as some bitter man who is on the outside looking in with no work to show; I've worked. I've written. I have more experience than some of the people who got their starts had when they got their starts. I have some of a journalism degree, a year and change at a fansite for no money (read: slavery), a year at a university paper doing a games column, and a few months with a startup enthusiast site doing a little news.
The truth is, "just do it because you enjoy it" is bullshit. I stopped writing for a few years because I'm just too hurt and discouraged and broken to keep trying. I don't write to stroke my ego, and I don't write because I enjoy the physical act of punching keys or wracking my brain over a word, I do it because I want people to read it. I want to share the world inside my head with people, and it breaks my heart when I realize I probably will never be able to.
I sent some work to someone who now writes for Kotaku. They corresponded with me back and forth for about two messages regarding an idea I had for a piece. Then, when I asked for some advice, they stopped replying.
I tried to freelance for The Escapist. Nope, didn't work. I applied for a news job there, and got the same sort of "Can't help you". Kotaku, when they were hiring a few years back? Forget about it. Same for RPS.
No, it seems that unless your name is one of the industry "name brands", or you happen to know one of them, you are destined for a life outside the looking glass, with nothing to show for your ambitions and time but a portfolio full of pitches, ideas, and nothing else.
Now I'm not saying that the well known games journos of the world don't deserve to be where they are. On the contrary; some of them do amazing work. But how did the get where they are? It's usually a variation on "Well, [established name] gave me a shot, and here I am. This is a problem. (The other problem is writers and video producers getting paid a liveable wage, but I can only rattle one pot at a time.) The problem is, what can I as an individual, or us as a community, do to change this? Obviously I don't want a world where everyone is a well known game critic, but there has to be some sort of happy medium so that people who work hard enough can at least get the attention of the correct people. Do you agree? How can we fix this? I hope that this all makes sense, I should be asleep by now, so it might be a bit jumbled.
Thanks for reading.