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#51 Posted by thatpinguino (731 posts) -

@musai: Do you have a portfolio for people to check out? And if so, is it in a public place so that ordinary users can find it and read your work? If you are going straight to the editors of sites looking for jobs through help wanted adds I don't see that being the best way to go based on all of the reasons you already mentioned.

I mean you have to know that you are competing with free right now. There are users on this site that are contributing loads of free content to the community spotlight, front page promos, and just general day-to-day forums. Some of those writers, like @video_game_king and myself (on top of loads of others I could shout out) are writing consistently, writing in depth, and writing for no reward beyond having a few people read our work. It is really hard to look for a paying job when there are tons of writers doing what you want to do as a hobby.

#52 Posted by Demoskinos (14585 posts) -

What you just described goes for any field. Getting a good job is just as much as who you know as what you know. Like it or not the social element of the work place matters.

#53 Edited by Jesus_Phish (625 posts) -

@thatpinguino: Gawd dang'd hobbiests, they took our juurbs!!!

I'll leave now.

But I do agree, you should have your work out in the public eye and you need to get people talking about you, even if its just people on a forum saying "That @musai guy wrote a great piece on..."

#54 Posted by boysef (76 posts) -

@musai said:

@boysef said:

there is nothing funnier than disillusioned white males. "they said if I joined the frat I would be loved and revered forever!" that being said. Welcome to journalism as a whole. I know, I know its a little overwhelming... take some time.. get your legs back, if you need to vomit theres a toilet shaped like your own anus in the corner.

That's not what I'm going for, sorry to ruin your narrative. The fact that there IS a frat is worrying. Even if I want to be in the clubhouse, I want to see people other than white guys in there.

Well it's games. Even though it is a billion dollar industry, it' still a niche market to a degree. And the people that actually care about games news? Even more niche. Also referring to your freelance/college work as slavery? Top tier self righteousness buddy, way to go for gold

#55 Posted by dudeglove (7688 posts) -

@musai said:

What frustrated me about my Escapist, Gawker and RPS apps, I didn't actually get any feedback.

I've been involved in various hiring processes and candidate selections and, while I can't speak on the behalf of such companies named above, my immediate reaction would be that you'd be lucky to have your resume spat on, let alone any feedback whatsoever. It's quite a time sink vetting candidates for x, y, z or whatever, and spending time replying to everyone who applied but won't get the job and factor in the scale and size of those sites? Pfft.

However, I am a firm believer in only posting or replying unless I can further the conversation or contribute something worthwhile - so here's two suggestions for you:

1. My spidey sense tells me that Medium Difficulty is slowly making waves among indie types. They started up a couple of years ago.

http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/write-for-us/

2. You said you spent 5 years as a QA? I highly suggest that you head on over to Cracked's writer's workshop and pitch an article on something to do with that knowledge you accumulated over the years.

http://www.cracked.com/write-for-cracked/

I've been on the edge of contributing my own stuff to Cracked (other jobs have gotten in the way) but in the time I spent lurking on their forums I've been seriously impressed by the workshop mods and how efficient they are in funneling folk towards turning out an article.

#56 Posted by Veektarius (4639 posts) -

I think the real splash of cold water you need here is that you're being entitled by devoting yourself to 'games'. Wanting to write about games as a journalist is a lot like wanting to be a movie critic or a food critic. It is a job that inherently involves spending time doing something enjoyable. "Time to sit down on the couch and do some 'research'". Add to that the fact that most people who consume games aren't nearly as interested in hearing what people like Patrick or Jeff have to say about them as we might like to believe and you have a perfect storm for a low demand high supply condition, economically.

"The invisible hand" of the market dictates that under these conditions, purchasers (gaming websites and their owners) will pay less money for the product, and in order to maximize their earnings potential, suppliers (you) will focus on different products for which the optimal price point is higher. So that's what you should do.

Editorial writing isn't the best skill to take to the market, to be fair. It's something that everyone is taught as a part of their mandatory grade school education, and the fact that a majority of people are terrible at it doesn't mean that it's in high demand compared to technical skills you would not learn without a more advanced degree (e.g. engineering). Nevertheless, your skills are applicable to other areas and it's my firm belief that no one is solely interested in games. If you can't discern a more marketable area in which to peddle your services that also inspires some interest, I think you need to introspect and consider the matter more carefully. It may be that you need to go outside of journalism and find a way to use your communication abilities in another area, also, such as PR.

#57 Edited by DannyHibiki (137 posts) -

@musai said:

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.

I think established outlets like that don't really want to coach or teach you, they just want content ready to go. It's a lot easier to help somebody shape an article after a draft has already been written, instead of working off a rough outline of ideas too.

Write some more articles and keep plugging away if it's what you really want.

#58 Edited by Humanity (8863 posts) -

@musai Hey man I feel ya. I have a "blog" on Tumblr with some art I put up once in a while. I will on average get maybe like 12 reblogs or likes on Tumblr for any one thing I put up. Some of these are illustrations that probably took over 15 hrs total to make. Yet I visit some other "established" artist blogs that get thousands upon thousands of hits for any ol' doodle they're bothered to do. I don't think that I'm the Davinci of the modern world, but I think I do above average work that warrants a bit more recognition, alas.

It's a harsh world when you go at it alone.

Online
#59 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

I would like it if people who wanted to write about games for a living stopped trying to get BAs in Journalism. It has nothing to do with the field. You'd be better off getting a degree in Communication and Media. I have similar complaints when I hear of someone in the gaming press "breaking" a story (sorry Patrick - I like you, I really do.) Telling us about something first is not breaking a story - you just beat the other guys to the punch. Telling us about something that would otherwise be hidden (and is of societal importance) is breaking a story - it is a term that should remain within the realm of journalism, which writing about video games is not, and co-opting the term is disrespectful to writers dodging bullets trying to report on something. Sorry, ranting.....

I do agree that the people who write about video games are an incestuous bunch - but so are the people who write about movies, as are the people who write about science, as are the people who write about literature, and so on. Critiquing things for a living is a lucrative endeavor and always has been. Not saying it's easy, but it is definitely easier than making the thing being critiqued. There is a long line of people behind you with the exact same desire. If you are truly as disillusioned as you say, maybe try something else. If you're just venting, then yeah - it sucks. Keep at it.

#60 Posted by Brodehouse (9640 posts) -

@detectivespecial: I liked your spiel about the misappropriation of the term "breaking". I had never considered that.

#61 Posted by GaspoweR (2830 posts) -

They talked a little about this on a GB Pax panel once. I think it was Patrick who said that it's mostly about finding your own niche these days. If you're a good writer and know a lot about, for example, e-sports, your chances are probably much higher to get a job. I think that was pretty well put.

There's no demand for another writer on various video games. But you still need some connections and writing skills, of course. So continue to be active in communities and continue writing, I guess. Also, having a set of other skills wouldn't hurt your chances either (like video editing, site development, photoshopping, filming, photography, talking into a camera, writing a monologue, coffee brewing etc.)

But hey, I'm no journalist, so I really don't know.

Yup, I second this. I remember Jeff also saying what you mentioned in your second paragraph such as talking on camera, be able to edit videos, having some basic knowledge with web coding, or video capture and streaming, etc. as pluses. If you can harness your writing by using it as a script for making your own brief (around 5 minutes or so) video reviews for example, and then uploading them on Youtube or Vimeo, I think you can use those as good additions to your portfolio.

#62 Posted by thatpinguino (731 posts) -

@detectivespecial: I agree with this sentiment entirely, the games industry has far too few jobs for traditionally trained journalists for journalism to be the college major of choice. Patrick is one of a handful of games journalists that actually practices a bit of journalism with his interviews and investigative features. Most of the writing is far closer to the sort of criticism that you get from an English degree or the new media training that you get with a communications degree.

#63 Edited by James_Hayward (257 posts) -

@dudeglove said:

Are you bitter? You sound bitter.

Pretty much this.

I work in another industry entirely but when I see this kind of attitude I immediately do not want to hire that person. Sure it is hard but here's how things are.

You are not owed a break.

You are not owed a job.

It's on you to convince an employer why they will benefit from hiring you.

#64 Edited by Musai (50 posts) -

@boysef said:

@musai said:

@boysef said:

there is nothing funnier than disillusioned white males. "they said if I joined the frat I would be loved and revered forever!" that being said. Welcome to journalism as a whole. I know, I know its a little overwhelming... take some time.. get your legs back, if you need to vomit theres a toilet shaped like your own anus in the corner.

That's not what I'm going for, sorry to ruin your narrative. The fact that there IS a frat is worrying. Even if I want to be in the clubhouse, I want to see people other than white guys in there.

Well it's games. Even though it is a billion dollar industry, it' still a niche market to a degree. And the people that actually care about games news? Even more niche. Also referring to your freelance/college work as slavery? Top tier self righteousness buddy, way to go for gold

I'm not quite sure why you have a bone to pick with me. Interning and writing for free while people make money from advertising is shitty. I don't know why this turned into a race thing, it isn't that. I'm saying that it sucks that I can't do what I like without being expected to work for free. Why are you trying to pick fights with me and make this into something it's not?

#65 Edited by GiantLizardKing (309 posts) -

@musai Games press has to be the worst career path to pursue: Constantly berated by your audience, always having to worry about being laid off, getting paid in peanuts, being forced to cover games you don't give a shit about, thousands and thousands of people vying for hundreds of jobs, I could go on and on. Just get a job that pays well enough and allows enough free time for you to play whatever you want and have a life outside of work.

I'm sure there are plenty of people with less experience than you who have a steady job in the press. They either a.) Went out and met people and made an impression b.) Wrote work that got them noticed more or c.) caught a lucky break. Quite frankly there just flat out are not enough jobs out there for everybody. Why continue chasing a dream where the upside isn't that great and seems to be making you miserable?

#66 Posted by Sargus (723 posts) -

@musai said:

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.

I hope this doesn't end up discouraging you more -- my intent is the opposite, I promise -- but I am 100% positive that you do not need to "know" anybody in order to break into the video game industry.

I know this because I didn't know anybody when I broke into the industry myself, not too long ago.

My name is Britton Peele. These days I most often write for GameSpot doing reviews, but I have also written for Joystiq, GamesRadar, The Escapist and a few other places, and am now an editor for The Dallas Morning News. And when I broke through, it sounds like I was in a very similar situation to the one you're in now.

I was writing video game reviews for my college newspaper at Texas Tech. Previously I had written kid-friendly reviews for a website run by a friend's dad (I don't think anybody but myself actually read them). As graduation was getting closer, I started learning more and more about freelancing, buying a few books on the topic ("Renegade Writer" was, I think, the title of one that had good advice at the time).

I tried to get something published for a long time, pitching what I thought was an awesome feature to The Escapist, Killscreen, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IGN ... everywhere I could think of. No dice. A couple of times I got a friendly, "This isn't what we're looking for," but usually I was met with silence.

But I kept trying, because that's what you've gotta do. No matter what you write about (even if it's fiction), the key is to not give up, no matter how bad it might seem. No, that doesn't mean everybody on the planet will eventually get published if they just try long enough, but the fact is that almost all successful writers in all mediums have had to push through a lot of failure to get where they are.

Eventually, an editor at GamesRadar (who, as far as I know, is no longer in the industry) took notice of my attempts and gave me a couple pieces of advice, one of the biggest being: Pitch with an outlet in mind. Previously I was just shooting my pitches everywhere, not thinking enough about whether or not it was a fit for the publication.

That week, the 3DS was announced, but not shown. I thought, "I can write something about that." So I took a better look at GamesRadar. Many of their freelancers at the time wrote lists.

So I pitched "10 games we want for 3DS." It was accepted. I turned it around in about a day. That was my first published piece as a freelance writer.

From there I did some more features from GamesRadar and eventually started reviewing games for them -- and by "games," I mostly mean expansion packs to The Sims 3. I wasn't glamorous work, but I was doing something I loved and getting paid (albeit not much) for it.

During that time, I was also pestering Justin Calvert at GameSpot, who I contacted every few months for probably 2-3 years before finally being told, "Actually, yes, I could use another freelancer right now." I was ecstatic.

And that was all before I had met a single person in the video game industry.

Years later, yeah, I've hung out with people. The first time I ever met fellow game journalists/critics was at QuakeCon, which is a show that's local to me here in Dallas. It was my first freelance assignment for The Dallas Morning News, and the first time I ever met any established writers in the flesh.

Does meeting/knowing people help with getting work? Sure. I won't deny that at all. If you can make it to somewhere like PAX or E3 and occasionally rub shoulders with people you look up to, definitely go for it. But the idea that you have to know people in order to break in is a myth. If it was true, I wouldn't be where I am now.

#67 Edited by mosespippy (4050 posts) -

Most of my thoughts have been covered by other posts so I'll leave those for now. The one issue here that I think no one else has mentioned is how hard are you trying to get the available jobs. It seems like you've only applied for a handful of these positions over a long period of time. You mention when Kotaku was hiring a few years back. Well Kotaku has definitely had more than one opening since a few years back. I'm pretty sure they had an opening a couple weeks ago. IGN had one too. Have you applied at all for any of those? How about anything that isn't a website that serves a nation wide audience? Your local paper has an entertainment section. There is probably a local entertainment magazine. They have writers who write about games. Even if those jobs are filled they might want to go on vacation at some point and need someone to fill in for a week or two. Get to know them. Game Informer and PC Gamer are both big organizations that take in unknown names. Most print magazines are, so get in while those dinosaurs still exist.

#68 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

2. You said you spent 5 years as a QA? I highly suggest that you head on over to Cracked's writer's workshop and pitch an article on something to do with that knowledge you accumulated over the years.

I'm having a hard time believing that anyone would like to hear about QA at all, honestly. It's just drudgery.

#69 Edited by thatpinguino (731 posts) -

@musai said:

@dudeglove said:

2. You said you spent 5 years as a QA? I highly suggest that you head on over to Cracked's writer's workshop and pitch an article on something to do with that knowledge you accumulated over the years.

I'm having a hard time believing that anyone would like to hear about QA at all, honestly. It's just drudgery.

You would be surprised. The Trenches, a comic by the people at Penny Arcade, has a running column called Tales from the Trenches that is nothing but stories from qa people. And i believe that feature has been running for over a year now.

#70 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

Most of my thoughts have been covered by other posts so I'll leave those for now. The one issue here that I think no one else has mentioned is how hard are you trying to get the available jobs. It seems like you've only applied for a handful of these positions over a long period of time. You mention when Kotaku was hiring a few years back. Well Kotaku has definitely had more than one opening since a few years back. I'm pretty sure they had an opening a couple weeks ago. IGN had one too. Have you applied at all for any of those? How about anything that isn't a website that serves a nation wide audience? Your local paper has an entertainment section. There is probably a local entertainment magazine. They have writers who write about games. Even if those jobs are filled they might want to go on vacation at some point and need someone to fill in for a week or two. Get to know them. Game Informer and PC Gamer are both big organizations that take in unknown names. Most print magazines are, so get in while those dinosaurs still exist.

Honestly, I've been too discouraged until recently to think about giving things another go. It sounds dumb, but it's just the way I've been in the past.

#71 Posted by masterpaperlink (1831 posts) -

@humanity said:

@musai Hey man I feel ya. I have a "blog" on Tumblr with some art I put up once in a while. I will on average get maybe like 12 reblogs or likes on Tumblr for any one thing I put up. Some of these are illustrations that probably took over 15 hrs total to make. Yet I visit some other "established" artist blogs that get thousands upon thousands of hits for any ol' doodle they're bothered to do. I don't think that I'm the Davinci of the modern world, but I think I do above average work that warrants a bit more recognition, alas.

It's a harsh world when you go at it alone.

Wellllll, people who draw have it a little easier in this instance. Illustration is one of the few fields where hard work and skill are actually rewarded, it is easier to measure so recognition comes faster (if you are good).

People pay attention to doodles of established artists because they are the result of thousands of hours of practice (either that or they just drew a lot of fan art). Average work from an average artist gets no attention because they haven't proven they have good taste, the idea that an artist has good taste is enough to elevate any crappy doodle (though if they do infact have good taste or skill it will be evident in a sketch).

#72 Posted by Jesus_Phish (625 posts) -

@musai: If there's funny stories then people will want to hear. Or if there's horrible stories.

Two examples.

Funny - someone had to playtest a pokemon game were you take pictures of pokemon. Her job was to make sure you could never take a picture that would be sexually suggestive. I think she worked for PA later on.

Horrible - someone had to play CoD online endlessly until it was released. He works in the same place I do now.

You might not think they're terribly interesting, but if you can spin it properly people will enjoy it. Look at that dude who writes about his time as a Final Fantasy 11 customer support guy. Such a boring sounding job and most of the time he was just responding to normal requests and tickets, but every once in a while he'd land a gold mine of a story and he could spin it.

#73 Posted by ProfessorEss (7281 posts) -

@clonedzero said:

If there is a guy who's remotely competent but knows people, that guy will get the job instead of you.

...and from where I stand "remotely competent" is a very wide net when it comes to vidjagame journalism.

#74 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2990 posts) -

Maybe you didn't notice but games journalism is on fire.

Start a youtube account. Be on video. Get followers. Play games. Prove people find you naturally interesting. Then you will get hired wherever you want.

Follow the money bro.

#75 Posted by DrDarkStryfe (1096 posts) -

It was said best a few Giant Bomb PAX panels ago; you need to find a niche and own it.

There are thousands of people writing reviews and news pieces in an ever shrinking enthusiast media. There and men and women that have been doing this for years that lose their job because the money to cover games seems to get less and less every year. That means when those positions do open up, there is already a large group of people that have experience and clout that will always get consideration.

You have to offer something that very few do. Simply being a good writer is not good enough at a time when words are cheaper than ever before. There are still many aspects of gaming that are left untouched by the bulk of the enthusiast media. Find one of those facets of the industry, and begin to own the topic.

#76 Posted by Peakborn (55 posts) -

As a writer whose dabbled most forms: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and articles but not really made much headway with any of it (mainly my fault, as I've yet to be happy enough with it to put most of it out there). I find it more discouraging when there are some youtubers, not all, who are being given similar access to games as journalists but whose journalistic skills amount to let's plays with jokes a twelve year old would make.

My unpaid experience amounts to writing a handful of articles for a paper, it was the Uni paper but we still suffered from the constraints of printed media. when I was attempting an English literature degree. It was a fairly different experience to most as I was the lone person attempting features so I'd pitch an idea and it was likely to be accepted. Sadly that ended due to some "differences" shortly before I quit the course all together half way through the year, the pieces are still out there on the paper's website

I ran a gaming radio show too but I've never really counted either as experience due to the fact it was at Uni and can easily be discounted. I will say that, as had been previously said, current games journalism on a whole is more that just a writing job and it has a lot more parallel media skills of video and audio. Even if it's not production skills it still pays to show a familiarity with both.

I'd also say that for first submissions you always need a finished piece or a completed draft. It's the same with all written mediums and editors/publishers will only accept ideas from writers they know will get the job done and to a standard/style they expect.

@musai said:

@dudeglove said:

2. You said you spent 5 years as a QA? I highly suggest that you head on over to Cracked's writer's workshop and pitch an article on something to do with that knowledge you accumulated over the years.

I'm having a hard time believing that anyone would like to hear about QA at all, honestly. It's just drudgery.

You would be surprised. The Trenches, a comic by the people at Penny Arcade, has a running column called Tales from the Trenches that is nothing but stories from qa people. And i believe that feature has been running for over a year now.

I concur with this though. People are always interested in the odd and rough tales from inside the gaming industry(hence the phantom shitter) and it could provide a strong basis for humour, satire and injecting your own personality into your writing if you're really worried about falling into an essay style. Personality and unique writing style can be the strongest selling point for writers these days.

#77 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

I'd also like to add this, in regards to comments about Kotaku (and Gawker media in general) as well as the general climate surrounding writing for a living these days.

#78 Edited by Video_Game_King (36090 posts) -

@veektarius said:

Wanting to write about games as a journalist is a lot like wanting to be a movie critic or a food critic. It is a job that inherently involves spending time doing something enjoyable.

Because all movies and all food is always enjoyable always forever. Plus clacking words together is so easy that it doesn't count as work or a skill or anything like that. And what the fuck does that matter, anyway? So what if you spend your time doing what you enjoy? Isn't that how you should lead your life?

#79 Posted by Aaron_G (1611 posts) -

Sadly, a lot of jobs are like this. I am political science major and trying to find a job in a government office or on a campaign boils down to, "Well know so-and-so and you will get the job." Having connections is half the battle and people are more likely to hire people they know and trust, it's just a sick part of the real world.

#80 Edited by Veektarius (4639 posts) -

@video_game_king: You're misrepresenting what I said. I made a clear statement regarding the relative abundance of that skill relative to technical skills that are currently in high demand. The guy's given doing what he enjoys a shot and is having financial difficulty. I tried that too, once. For some people it works out, other people have to be practical, and being practical means thinking about market realities. It doesn't automatically mean you'll suffer through life, believe me.

#81 Posted by JJBSterling (169 posts) -

@sargus: This thread was really starting to be a downer so I'm glad there's a success story to read, thanks for sharing!

#82 Posted by dudeglove (7688 posts) -

@musai said:

@dudeglove said:

2. You said you spent 5 years as a QA? I highly suggest that you head on over to Cracked's writer's workshop and pitch an article on something to do with that knowledge you accumulated over the years.

I'm having a hard time believing that anyone would like to hear about QA at all, honestly. It's just drudgery.

You really haven't read much of cracked then. You don't have to pigeonhole yourself either.

#83 Edited by mixedupzombies (90 posts) -

@brodehouse: Last time I checked slavery is not a choice. You are a form of property which entirely livelihood is up to someone's else. So yes I am.

@musai: Its fine just seemed out of place and if your trying to get into the industry be on your fucking best behavior you fuck

/sarcasm. As in how Susan Arendt describes it the market is overflowing with people who want the job and if anyone can get a reason not to hire you they will.

I echo alot of what @joshwent said and having a portfolio is not recommended it is necessary for the kind of sites you name.

#84 Posted by Hailinel (23967 posts) -

I agree that the games journalism industry is very insular. I'd actually call it incestuous. Were it not for the occasional journalist leaving writing behind to go into game development, or in the still-rare case of prominent figures just leaving game journalism entirely (see Sessler, Adam), any time that there's a major shift in the prominent ranks of the game journalism field, it invariably leads to already established figures just moving from one publication to another. It is very, very rarely the case that someone on the outside looking in is able to break into the inner circle of the higher echelons.

That being said, the best you can do is really just find a way to build up your resume and your body of work and see if you can grow from there. I actually spent about a year working as an unpaid volunteer writer for a small game news/reviews website. I eventually decided to leave, not out of any conflict with the staff or site direction, but again, it was a volunteer position that I just sort of fell into, and though I enjoyed doing it, keeping up with those responsibilities while also working my actual full-time job was a pretty draining experience. And I wasn't even the hardest working member of the staff, as others did the legwork in trying to secure media contacts with publishers and massaging relationships to the point that they could at least give us the time of day for press releases and other materials and potentially early review copies of games. Some of the staff have even gone to E3 on their own dime to report from there.

But the point is, everyone working at that site is building up a body of work and a reputation. If I'm being fair, I'd say that some are doing better than others (a large portion of the staff are in college or of college age), but they're a group that have taken the task of reporting on the industry into their own hands and trying their best to make the site maintain an audience and potentially grow. If you can get your work out there in some venue for people to read, no matter how small it may be, you stand the chance of building up an audience and reputation of your own. Then, if your body of work is solid enough, if you want to pursue a position in the ranks of one of the larger game journalism sites out there, you stand a better chance.

#85 Edited by AlecOfTheWest (275 posts) -

@joshwent: Idk, the whole " I'm a straight white male, therefore I suck" attitude seems like it would fit in pretty well with modern game journalism.

#86 Edited by jakob187 (21645 posts) -

I cannot say that I have very similar incidents as you, OP. I ran an independent webzine for three years that was recognized by GameRankings, and I had correspondence with a lot of people inside the industry (other sites, PR reps, publishers, developers, etc). I had at least one e-mail conversation that was fairly back and forth with Mr. Gerstmann back when he was at Gamespot, as well as one with Mr. Davis. I'd love to share those conversations (as they were incredibly helpful to me as a start-up writer as well as a games enthusiast), but that e-mail account was tied to its own setup with the site. When the site went down, so did all of those e-mails. In general, though, people at other sites were fairly willing to talk as long as they had the time. I even had freelance offers handed to me (the only one I took was for the now defunct Movies.com, which at the time was owned by Disney...so I actually have a Disney paystub somewhere in all of my old records just to flaunt it - $200 for a list-icle!).

Mind you, when I ran that site, it was back in 2002-2005, so it was quite a different climate than it is today. Dare I say, it was when online gaming sites were still fairly young and learning just exactly how to offer coverage. I think Gamespot had just really started up with their video stuff at the time.

With all of that said, here's the thing: all of those guys that are in gaming journalism at the moment were the ones who basically STARTED it...well, at least the current iterations that we know today. Let's be honest: the old Gamepro in the '90s wasn't exactly hitting hard-edged journalistic points.

When it all comes down to it, I got out of it for a couple of reasons:

  • Ownership issues (I was supposed to technically own the site, but ownership had never transferred over from the previous owner, so I was left with a shutdown site)
  • Burnt out (you can only nitpick games so much before you start kind of hating video games)
  • Shady bullshit (publishers can be great like Atlus...or complete douche assholes like EA...and the latter really got to me after a while)
  • New generation of consoles hit (we were poor and didn't generate a ton of revenue, so we didn't really have the money to get the hardware in order to keep up with the times)

It was fun while it lasted, but behind all of it, there were more headaches than I was ever willing to let on. Publishers essentially bribing you for good scores, and if they weren't doing that, they were making incentives out of their top-tier games being given as review copies if you gave lesser games more favorable reviews. Users would constantly complain about your opinions on something. Forum moderation was annoying as hell. Having to sit down, grind your ass off through a game as hard and fast as possible in order to get a review up by a deadline for the publishers. For me, I also did all of the graphic design for the front page and articles. Communicating with publishers, developers, PR people, advertisers, and everything in between while also finding time to talk with my staff (we were all in different states and countries, so we had our own private forum to discuss things...and phone calls, but that was back before smartphones and all that jazz really happened).

In short, running an independent site was a fucking nightmare that had more headaches than rewards.

Now, I can't say that all of this is the same within one of the bigger companies. However, I would imagine that it can be as bad if not worst. In all honesty, if you are a gaming enthusiast and you just want to write about shit, then make a blog and write about it. Hell, these forums give you a good outlet to post your blogs up and let people interact with you. That's one thing that I realized I didn't really get with the site I ran: I didn't want to just review stuff and write news stories, but I wanted to TALK TO OTHERS about that stuff. I'm a talkative guy (as you can see), and I like conversations. I didn't get that, and it was a bummer.

So if you are beating your head against this brick wall trying to make a breakthrough and it isn't happening, maybe that's a sign that it's not where you are supposed to be heading with this degree. Maybe there is another route you should be heading. I hope that my own personal story within the industry has been able to help you understand a little bit of what you could be heading into if this is what you want to do.

#87 Edited by ShadowSkill11 (1783 posts) -

It's a small community where everyone knows your name. Of course it's going to be hard to get your foot in the door. Being a writer is easy, being a journalist is harder, being a games journalist(with a living wage) is really hard. Just like joining the Army is easy, joining the Rangers is harder, and joining Special Forces is hard.

#88 Posted by TheHBK (5466 posts) -

Sounds like sour grapes because there are lots and lots of people trying to get in but already seems to me like way too many games sites.

#89 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

Gaming journalism is competitive because people want an easy ride so they can hang out with people and play video games. If you do get work somewhere they will probably exploit you as an intern. I don't really get why there's unpaid positions because there's not exactly a whole lot to learn. You can gain valuable experience in computing or networking from an intern position, what would I gain from an unpaid internship at IGN? Pretty much nothing. Well, maybe they can teach me how to give bad episodes of The Walking Dead 9/10s.

@shadowskill11 said:

It's a small community where everyone knows your name. Of course it's going to be hard to get your foot in the door. Being a writer is easy, being a journalist is harder, being a games journalist(with a living wage) is really hard. Just like joining the Army is easy, joining the Rangers is harder, and joining Special Forces is hard.

Being a writer doesn't imply having a job so obviously that's easy. Few should even be called journalists when it comes to gaming because it's rarely more than regurgitating press releases and news from somewhere else while occasionally doing interviews. Investigative journalism it is not.

#90 Posted by Cerberus3Dog (327 posts) -

It's not what you know, it's who you know. End of discussion.

As someone trying to get a job in the games industry, this is the de facto standard.

#91 Edited by mixedupzombies (90 posts) -

I can talk and have talked to Klepek when I feel like it, doesn't mean I'm gonna get job. As @sargus said you gotta least have good work and know who writing for or nothing else matters.

#92 Edited by adam1808 (1386 posts) -

@alexw00d said:

You seem to think to highly of yourself dude. To these big companies you wanna write for you're unfortunately a noone, just like the other thousands of kids that want to write for them.

You've either gotta find your own little niche, or schtick or whatever, or, as you say, you've gotta know the right people. It sucks but it's the way of the world.

Kind of this. Admittedly I do agree with the other people in this thread that game journalism is super insular to the point where I sometimes feel there's some serious group-think going on, but in the end a truly original angle on games journalism will get you noticed. And, in the end, we already have an awful lot of people writing about games on the internet and only a fraction of them actually get paid for it. It's not a growth area, and even the death-knell that is youtube gaming channels to conventional games journalism is rapidly approaching the point of over-saturation.

#93 Posted by Rowr (5487 posts) -

Welcome to every Industry ever.

File this one under "facts of life."