Posted by regularassmilk (1431 posts) -

I've spent a lot of time thinking that I wanted to be a writer of fiction. Ultimately, my body of work consists of the same autobiographical-fiction story I've re-wrote and attempted to write like fifteen times. I wrote a lot of pseudo-poetry in high school, too, but that's all garbage. I do think I have writing talent, and today I had a professor give me an A on my final despite not conforming to the rubric in really any way. He said their was something "unmistakably brilliant" in my writing, and I felt validated enough to write this blog post if nothing else.

As I got really back into games last year and this year, it dawned on me that maybe I wanted to go into games journalism. I wrote that off, though, until this past month. Mashable was looking for freelancers last week who were "knowledgable about gaming" so I sent along a few clips, and the three articles I wrote to send (a re-writing of a blog post about being a gamer dad/ gamer son, a piece on digital distribution, and a Rogue Legacy review) came with extreme ease. Chelsea Stark said she really enjoyed my personal essay! Hooray!

When I thought I wanted to write fictional stories, I would hear other writers say "Oh, god writing is just the greatest. I write and everything melts away, I just flow and flow and its meditation". I didn't feel this, and it was disheartening.

When I wrote about games (etc), that feeling came over me for the first time. It was all fairly natural, and I was really proud of the things I had said and the way I had said them. So, for the time being, the reality is this: I want to be a game journalist. I know that the written word is sort of dying if not just taking a backseat to video content across the industry, but I'm also totally alright with that. I love filming, editing, I love making videos. I love talking to people. I love the people in the industry.

With that, does anybody know how to get into game journalism? All of the people I like on the scene have been a part of it forever. Jeff went to CES when he was sixteen. It's like he was born into game journalism.

I could start taking journalism classes at college, but that somehow doesn't seem right? The degree I'm working on is English as it is.

How do I get moving towards game journalism?

EDIT: I suppose I should have written this post differently, because I assume that the actual writing aspect as a kind of minor function to all of the content I'd be involved with the production with. If I had came here and said that I wanted to work in games so I could do stuff like quick looks and UPF, I feel like I would've sounded like an idiot.

I do have editing/prod skills though, so maybe I will make some videos. That actually sounds great.

As far as working a 9-5 to support my dream, I'm already doing that. I'm a father and a husband. I'm going to college to teach, and I've thought about things like a career in games as a secondary, more elaborate goal. As far as journalism vs personality driven opinion pieces, all of the things I have written have basically been those. The concept that this website thrives on, "personality-based journalism/content" is what drove me to it, because I hate writing under standard journalism guidelines.

#1 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1652 posts) -

I don't mean this in any kind of rude way. Really, but, is this an industry that people are still capable of breaking into through writing? I could understand it if you start by making games, or being a youtube star to gain notoriety. I'm just not sure if writing is possible. If you do, I'm really happy for you, and I hope you're successful.

#2 Posted by csl316 (9527 posts) -

First things first, keep in mind that it's super hard to get a full time gig and jobs in the industry don't seem secure at all. It's constantly changing, so who knows where things will be in ten years.

But what people usually say is build a portfolio. Game writing jobs always ask for samples. Write for a school paper, be good on camera, find a way to stand out. That seems more important than a degree in a lot of cases.

#3 Posted by dudeglove (8319 posts) -
#4 Posted by Stealthmaster86 (683 posts) -

Keep writing and keep looking for work. At first you will NOT get paid for your work, no matter how much effort you put into it, but the experience will help you in the long run. If you see something that says, "Writers Wanted" check out the website to see if it's something you want to be a part of. If so, contact them with an audition piece. If they like your work, they are likely to contact you. It is possible to never hear from them again, but keep looking. A bit of luck goes a long way as well.

#5 Posted by Relkin (173 posts) -

It has already been said by @alwaysbebombing, but getting into the industry with just writing is becoming harder and harder; video content has become the most popular format. I'm not suggesting that you don't try, but perhaps you should start fiddling around with recording/editing video and audio.

There will always be an audience for pure text(I'm part of it), and considering the recent...kerfuffle involving "journalistic integrity", I'm sure folks are looking for someone who takes the concept of journalism seriously. Someone who avoids sensationalist nonsense and the like.

My suggestion on how to "break" into games journalism is to just start doing it. Write stories. Some IP change hands? A company goes under/massive layoffs? Write about it. Keep the facts and your own personal analysis clearly separate and defined. Then post it somewhere. Put your work and yourself out there, and see what happens. Good luck!

#6 Posted by Bollard (5870 posts) -

He said their was something "unmistakably brilliant" in my writing, and I felt validated enough to write this blog post if nothing else.

Mmmmmmmmm. Homonomnomnomonyms.

Also, good luck!

#7 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

Breaking in to this industry with just writing seems like an increasing impossibility in the modern day. It seems like the majority of writing positions in the industry are being filled and refilled with the same established writers as the number of overall jobs decreases. Getting paid a livable wage for your writing seems even harder. As a result, I think building a video following is likely your best bet for breaking in. Just know that no one is going to pay you for a while, if at all, and that you will be competing with a ton of people from all over the place for the few openings that happen. Putting out regular quality pieces is a great place to start and the longer you keep at it the better your chances. I've been doing the produce content/ keep at it thing for a few months now and I haven't had much luck, but then again I am not applying to every outlet imaginable.

Edit: I actually wrote a blog post on the topic of games writing that got a pretty good discussion going about the state of writing jobs in the industry.

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#8 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1652 posts) -

Isn't this also an industry that doesn't actually have journalistic reporting, but personality driving opinion pieces?

#9 Posted by FLStyle (4927 posts) -

Are you fucking kidding me? Where have you been for the last 18 months?

Have you seen how many lay-offs there have been in the past few years? IGN, GameSpot, CVG, the list goes on. The written article is dead.

There are people who used to have full time jobs writing in video game journalism who are looking for jobs now because there isn't enough to go around as it is and you'd be competing against them.

If you don't have on-screen video presenting, editing or production skills, you've no chance. You'd be better off trying to become a gaming YouTube celebrity.

Take a look at the facts:

http://ign.theresumator.com/ - How many writer jobs do you see? None. How many video jobs do you see? Many.

#10 Posted by GiantLizardKing (570 posts) -

There is no career in games journalism in the way there was when Jeff was 16. Back then there were a dozen popular gaming mags in the US that were mainstays and always new ones popping up. People were doing dumb shit with multimedia, and the internet was a thing for the first time ever in the games journalism space. Now there is a fraction of that opportunity in any sort of organized way.

If you want to start writing about games there is nothing stopping you. You can start your own blog for practically free. Now trying to get a job at one of the few remaining outlets that actually pays people to write about games? That seems like a fools errand. If your writing is worth reading start a blog and people will show up to read it. There are methods for generating revenue independently (ads, patreon etc.). If you don't think you could ever write content on your own that would be interesting enough to support yourself then there is no reason to think that an employer has any reason to support you long term to do the same for them.

There is so much opportunity for people willing to go out and do it on their own and figure out new markets. People like piedipie and totalbiscuit may be horrible but they are like bazillionaires. I'd be trying to do what they are doing instead of what all the people getting laid off did.

#11 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@giantlizardking: But how many people can be supported by pandering to kids and teens on the internet? I mean the people at Extra Credits and PBS Ideas channel make high quality content that appeals to adults and enthusiasts, but they get 1/10 the support on their most popular videos that people like TotalBiscuit and PewDiePie get for a random thing they throw up on a Thursday. Now that a hand full of streamers/lets play people are entrenched it seems like the pander to internet outrage career pipeline is filling up too.

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#12 Edited by GiantLizardKing (570 posts) -

@giantlizardking: But how many people can be supported by pandering to kids and teens on the internet? I mean the people at Extra Credits and PBS Ideas channel make high quality content that appeals to adults and enthusiasts, but they get 1/10 the support on their most popular videos that people like TotalBiscuit and PewDiePie get for a random thing they throw up on a Thursday. Now that a hand full of streamers/lets play people are entrenched it seems like the pander to internet outrage career pipeline is filling up too.

Yeah I agree. My point isn't to do exactly what those guys are doing my point is that you should look at other outlets as those guys have. I'm sure when they started they would have given anything to be in somebody like Greg Miller's shoes. Now I would be willing to bet the shoe is on the other foot. There is no need for him to try and land a gig at an escapist, IGN, Gamespot etc, when he can do his own thing like those guys do. You are right that one may make 1/10th of what they make, but something tells me that may even be enough to live on, especially if one has other income streams set up (paypal donations, podcast adverts, videos etc). I guess my main point is that one doesn't have to hitch their wagon to anybody else anymore. Or if he really loves writing about games he can do whatever he has to do for your nine to five and then write about games on the side. I don't go into a zen like passion induced trance when I'm at my 9 to 5 either. But I don't hate it and it pays the fuck out of my bills.

#13 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@giantlizardking: I agree. Blazing your own path at this point is a better use of time than pursuing the hand full of jobs that already exist in the industry. If you succeed the payoff is higher and the freedom is much higher. I mean the sites like IGN and Gamespot that have the largest staffs really seem to be chasing the next hot internet fad rather than focusing on editorial content strength. So if you are an honors English student I don't see your talents really being especially valuable at a traditional site anymore. As someone who is trying to follow the same path I have to say that my youtube stuff has a much longer tail than even my best written stuff on GB.

I also cannot emphasize enough how helpful the 9-5 job is for pursuing a games writing career. I would not be able to do half the writing I do if not for the equipment my job paid for and the peace of mind my job affords. I couldn't imagine pursuing my writing goals without that income. Honestly I think of games writing as my passion, but any money that comes from it is a bonus at this point.

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#14 Posted by GunslingerPanda (4860 posts) -

Advertise like a shameless whore.

For example:

Hey guys! I did a video taking a look at a game on Early Access right now called Secret Ponchos. It's a pretty great game and I wanted to share it with you! Check it out here:

#15 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@gunslingerpanda: Just remember to be wary of the GB forum rules about self promotion though...

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#16 Edited by GunslingerPanda (4860 posts) -

@gunslingerpanda: Just remember to be wary of the GB forum rules about self promotion though...

What do you mean? I'm just providing an example. No self promotion was intended on my part.

#17 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@gunslingerpanda: Oh I just meant it as a general word of caution to the OP about promoting on GB. If your post was a stand-alone forum topic it would likely get locked as youtube spam or self-promotion. It kind of makes parlaying a readership at GB into a readership at another site difficult. I totally agree that promoting your stuff is important, you just have to be careful how you do it on these forums specifically.

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#18 Posted by Carryboy (751 posts) -

@regularassmilk:

Those who tell you cant succeed are those who failed themselves.

#19 Edited by Brendan (8180 posts) -

@carryboy: Sometimes true, but there's something to be said for social and economic trends. This isn't like someone trying to break into a healthy industry like Hollywood. The world is shifting away from games writing, regardless of how successful the person saying it is.

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#20 Edited by regularassmilk (1431 posts) -

@thatpinguino: @giantlizardking: @flstyle: @alwaysbebombing:

I suppose I should have written this post differently, because I assume that the actual writing aspect as a kind of minor function to all of the content I'd be involved with the production with. If I had came here and said that I wanted to work in games so I could do stuff like quick looks and UPF, I feel like I would've sounded like an idiot.

I do have editing/prod skills though, so maybe I will make some videos. That actually sounds great.

As far as working a 9-5 to support my dream, I'm already doing that. I'm a father and a husband. I'm going to college to teach, and I've thought about things like a career in games as a secondary, more elaborate goal. As far as journalism vs personality driven opinion pieces, all of the things I have written have basically been those. The concept that this website thrives on, "personality-based journalism/content" is what drove me to it, because I hate writing under standard journalism guidelines.

EDIT: What do you guys look for in video content? What do you want out of it?

#21 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@regularassmilk: If you are doing videos I can't recommend OBS any more strongly. Its free, and got me up and capturing PC games in a day. It only took a few hours to get a pretty good quality to file size ratio as well. I have been doing some Quick Look style videos for the last 3 months and OBS made that a breeze.

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#22 Posted by FLStyle (4927 posts) -

@regularassmilk: That sounds much better, I thought you were going to make a big career mistake!

I don't normally watch your average Youtuber's Let's Play, I'm all about experts. If I want to watch an expert on fighting games, I go to Maximilian's channel, if I want to watch an expert on Dragon Age games, I go to LadyInsanity's channel.

If you're going to do comedy in your videos then look no further than the Giant Bomb staff, I enjoy their humour very much.

#23 Posted by PhoenixDownPillow (151 posts) -

Seems like you have a better chance starting your own website or being a streamer than you do coming in from the bottom with a resume the old fashioned way. At least with the former, there's a chance to strike big success and make real cash money.

#24 Posted by subyman (669 posts) -

Sadly, there isn't really academic writing for games yet, although I could see it popping up in a few years. What matters is what you want out of it. A starting "journalist" will write top-ten lists, paraphrase press releases, and write tag lines for videos. The meat of what you really want to do isn't in journalism, but in personality-driven entertainment. The way you get into the gaming scene now is to run a popular Twitch stream, start developing a Youtube fan base, or create your own website and hire some friends to write a few articles a week. Plopping down into the job you want is for the big name guys that have been at it for 10+ years and practically every game enthusiast already knows their name.

Are you prepared for 5 or more years of writing click-bait waiting for a chance to get on screen and get your name out there? That's what awaits if you try to go the traditional route of getting hired by a media company. IMO, start having fun with Twitch/Youtube and see where that goes.