Sargus's forum posts

#1 Posted by Sargus (704 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.

#2 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

I haven't really decided yet... But PS4 might have the edge in large part because of Remote Play.

#3 Edited by Sargus (704 posts) -

As a member of the press (I'm an editor at The Dallas Morning News, and a freelance writer for several sites including GameSpot and Joystiq), I understandably hear this a lot, and I (hopefully understandably) get sick of it a lot. Most of us hold ourselves to pretty high editorial standards when it comes to the things we publish, and yet no matter what we do there's somebody out there saying we're either paid off or just doing it "for the hits."

But rather than make the same arguments over and over again, I instead wrote a big blog post recently that serves as "my official response" to threads like these. No, video game critics are not corrupt; mostly, anyway

I often do a type of post at the Dallas Morning News similar to what you mentioned Jeff doing: It's a post of impressions, not a "review," that says, "This is how I feel about this game right now, before it's released." That also helps me cover a lot more games, since I'm a one-man game coverage team for the newspaper and I'm strict about finishing a game before reviewing it (most professional critics are).

Bottom line, though? Yeah, stop pre-ordering games. I wouldn't do it in your shoes, unless it's a case where I'm, say, ordering something from Amazon for release day delivery of a game I know is good (most recent example: the latest Professor Layton, which had already been released and reviewed in other parts of the world). The games press doesn't care if you pre-order games or not. We have absolutely no stake in that.

#4 Edited by Sargus (704 posts) -

That looks like the pin Giant Bomb gave out to people who went to their PAX Prime panel last year. Whether he got it there or somewhere else, it's really awesome to see it in such a prominent place on his desk.

#5 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

Since you liked Bravely Default, I'm inclined to say you'd probably like Final Fantasy IX. The earlier games (IV, V, VI in particular) would also be good.

#6 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

Ashley, Miranda, Miranda.

(I'm a big Chuck fan and needed to live out a fantasy, OK?)

#7 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

I hated, HATED the slow PSN speeds of the PS3. They were atrocious, and Xbox 360 downloads were faster every single time.

For me, though, PS4 download speeds have been drastically improved. I'm honestly surprised to see someone complaining about them -- which is why I'd be suspicious that something else is going on. Either continued post-Christmas traffic (which, yeah, shouldn't be a problem, but Nintendo's networks are still down too) or perhaps something with your router settings. The speeds shouldn't be as slow as you're talking about.

#8 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

Are Microsoft able to patch out the dev mode?

I imagine the problem would be that Microsoft has already promised that any retail Xbox One can become a developer console.

#9 Edited by Sargus (704 posts) -

The R-Zone was pretty horrific. And I actually own(ed) one.

Anyone who says the Vita or Wii U is the "worst console ever" has not used very many consoles from the past three decades.

#10 Posted by Sargus (704 posts) -

I have most of the non-sports PS4 launch titles, and I've spent the most time with Assassin's Creed IV and Need for Speed: Rivals. So I'd suggest Need for Speed.

But if you just want power... Maybe Battlefield or Killzone, I guess.