Does anybody remember that show? I vaguely do… can’t remember whether it was actually any good or not. It’s a bit hit and miss with kids educational serials, especially nowadays. Anyway – Eurogamer posted up this video yesterday, entitled “How do you become a videogames journalist?” This is a topic that crops up a lot, as I’m sure you can imagine. People like playing games, they see others getting paid to play games… the question of “zomghow?” gets asked pretty often, and every now and then a site will do a bigger feature on the subject.
The Escapist did a round-table on the wider subject a few years back, and people like IGN and OXM have also done pieces. Aside from that, you don’t see the major sites writing about this that often… but then it’s only really something you write about once, and there are only so many ‘high-profile’ sites. GameCareerGuide also did this fairly interesting piece on the subject, and industry veteran Kieron Gillian wrote this on his blog which is the best guide I found so far. It links to many other websites, both big and small, that have something on the subject, so you should check his out at least.
Odd topic for Eurogamer to cover I have to say, but then again it’s part of the ‘Eurogamer Asks’ serial (they seem to be asking themselves in this one. Talking to yourself is still a sign of mental instability, right?) so it was bound to come up at one point, I suppose. Still, these days, if anyone’s going to say anything about Videogames Journalism, it’s how we all suck. Still, it’s a good video, and the medium itself does help ram the points home better than any print article does (sorry guys). A couple of things hit the spot perfectly:
- “It’s about who you know, being in the right place, at the right time… I’ve been very lucky so far” – Sad, but true, this sentiment is probably one of the only unshakeable truths regarding writing about games. There’s a couple of examples of this quoted in the video itself, and I have a couple of personal anecdotes and observations of my own. In a sector that has few openings, but many candidates, the only true defining factor (since there’s really no official skills/qualifications standard at the moment) is who you know, what you’ve done, who you’ve done, who knows what and who you’ve done and why, etc…
- Original Ideas – If the previous point was too depressing, here’s a ray of sunshine – originality. Original features, original ideas can go a long way. With the advent of the internet, it’s created a problem where multiple sites are easily accessed at the same time, and if they all offer the same content, then there’s no real deciding factor as to who’s better. There are exceptions – certain writers will become famous for their opinions, certain sites will have a specific ‘style’ that proves interesting, etc… but in general, one reviewer’s opinion is no different from another. That’s where features/original content comes in. If you’ve got a good idea, you’ll be surprised at how many people will listen to you.
- Start Yesterday – as Kieron so rightly said, if you’re not writing already, then you’re off to a bad start. I may not have been interested enough in videogames to write about them when I was younger, but I WAS writing. Skits, short-stories… and then when I knew I wanted to do Journalism I did opinion pieces, reviews on films, news… and then shortly before my first gig I did a couple of practice reviews. In my own humble opinion, if you even have to ask ‘How?’ you’re off to a bad start. Which makes absolutely no sense, except that (bringing it back to me for a second) I never once asked anyone “How?”. I did a Google search, blagged my way onto a VGJ hub, and applied for the first job I found.
You know in writing this, I think I had a mini panic attack after finding and reading this particular article. I feel sorry for this guy, I really do – something went wrong somewhere, and I really don’t want to end up like him (no offence). In summer this year I will have been doing this for three years… I wonder, how far have I really come? Will I one day be the one giving a talk on a video? Or will I be like Mr. Armchair, ten years and not a hell of a lot to show for it? Only time will tell, but time seems to be marching too quickly for my liking.
I’ll leave you with this slightly harrowing quote from the video, just to emphasise how it’s not all rays of sunshine:
“The main reason people do this job is because they care, and the fact that you care means that someone can then hurt you – that’s the worst thing about the job.”
Until next time.