John Walker's Electronic House

So You Want To Be A Games Journalist

by on Oct.30, 2006, under The Rest

by John Walker


This is the first in a seventeen thousand part series on becoming a games journalist. In this part we will explore what writing about games journalism is, and the “easy” way to enter the anus of the industry. In the following sixteen thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine parts we will explore why I am so important. Some would recommend that you not read this, and instead get on with what must be the most painfully obvious job of all time, but they are stupid and wrong. Read on to find out why I am the greatest ever, ever, ever.

Mark Blowhard gave a very complicated view of the profession of games journalism in his introduction to the games industry, “Who Am I Again?”. In the spirit of not thinking for myself, I’ll quote it hear as it saves me doing any work:

“The games journalist is someone who plays videogames and then writes down if they’re good or not.”

Why I Am Great

I’ve met over seven people in my life, and of the four that would speak to me, two of them wanted to be involved in games journalism – that’s at least 50% of the population of the world. No career is more coveted, not even being an astronaut or the president of an incredibly important company. Simply put, I am one, and you are not, and it is important that you note this. I play games for a living, while you probably have to put things on shelves, or even use a mop. You poor things, you must so desperately want to be me. I play games for a living.

But don’t think it’s simple to play games and then write down if they’re good or not! Oh no! It’s incredibly difficult.

And don’t even get me started on what it’s like to have to go to America for free and stay in a hotel for free and play games at a conference for free while getting free food and all the alcohol you can drink for free because sometimes you have to queue up for stuff, which is way too awful to even think about. Could you cope with all this? I doubt it, but I can.

If you thought I wasn’t amazing yet, and that you could possibly be a games journalist, you haven’t even thought about “deadlines”. See, because when you do games journalism you don’t just get to do it when you like, but you have to get the work done by a certain time! Some people actually die because this is so hard. I don’t. For example, one time I had to stay up an hour past my bedtime to get a review finished before the “deadline”, and it was incredibly tiring.

what Will it Take to Make me Go away?

To be like me and a games journalist who plays games for a living while you don’t, there are some things you have to be able to do that you wouldn’t have thought of if I didn’t tell you.

1) You have to have a computer or a console machine.

2) You have to have at least one hand.

3) You have to be able to write as good as I.

You wouldn’t believe how many rubbish idiots think they could do the job I do but can’t because they write stuff that’s just rubbish. This does not mean, however, comma, that if your grasp on the language in which you will be writing is tenuous at best and at worst that the least at which you’ll have will be that you will never be a games journalist.

And on and on it goes. How sick I am of these guides to “getting in”, as if being a games journalist is some insurmountable achievement, beyond the possibility of all but the Grand Few, and only accessible once one has followed the prescribed route of another. It’s so ridiculous – this industry, with its head so far up its arse that it patronises all outside with the belief that they must surely want in, but couldn’t possibly fathom it for themselves.

Here’s how I got started: I sent some writing to a games magazine, and they liked it so they gave me work.

And that’s true of everyone I know in the industry, whether they were spotted on a forum (you young flibbertigibbets) or submitted spec pieces on paper by mule. There’s no great secret, no moronic 12-step programme to follow. If you can write, and care passionately about your writing, then you’ll get work. You’re not getting work? Then you probably can’t write, or don’t care.

The only piece of wisdom I feel willing to give is this: If you want to have a job that’s all about playing games, then give up. If you want to have a job that’s all about writing, and you have a particular interest in games, then keep going.

It’s a bloody excellent job, though not well paid for most involved. I never stop feeling incredibly lucky, and incredibly scared. Er, that’s it. Apart from this lot:

Affectionate Diary
Cobbett’s peculiarly helpful one
Kieron going sensible
The Triforce
Tracker Bill
Mathew Kumar
Bill Harris
Stuart Campbell
Tim Edwards
And this one.

1 Comment for this entry

8 Trackbacks / Pingbacks for this entry