John Walker's Electronic House

And Unpaid “Internships” Aren’t Okay Either

by on Feb.06, 2012, under Rants

Oh my goodness, I’m boiling over with rage. Yet another gaming site is trying to deceive young writers into believing their work is worthless, and the only way they can get anywhere in this job is to work for free. (You can read my previous rant here.)

Pocket Gamer, who until now I’d always naively thought of as quite a cheery site, are offering three month unpaid “internships”. Which means they take their writing, publish it on their advertising-emblazoned site, and then keep all the money that article generates for themselves. The author gets the magical treat of “experience”, and we’re all to thank the publisher for their charitable efforts.

What’s made me quite so angry this evening is the realisation that I would FAR prefer the editors/publishers of such a site just admit that they’re taking advantage of a culture where young writers are easy to screw over. But instead we get told these ridiculous stories about how it’s for the exploited writer’s own benefit, that it’s to help them, and most of all, that they’d never get paid work without doing unpaid first.

That is a LIE. An absolute lie. And it’s a ridiculous one at that. Never mind that most the writers I know never did any prolonged stints of unpaid work. Never mind that I wrote for PC Gamer for a decade, and saw lots of young writers with no paid experience being given a chance with paid-for work in the magazine. Never mind that RPS hired the extraordinary Adam Smith despite his never having had any published games journalism experience at all. Nor that we’re not requiring it for our next hire. But because the lie is usually backed up with the stupidest logic imaginable. “I did unpaid work to get into this industry, and I’d never have got here if I hadn’t.”

Presumably people willing to make this argument are also aware of every other of the billions upon trillions of alternate paths their lives could have taken should they have turned left at the lights rather than right, or left the house on time rather than five minutes late. The capacity to contain the eventualities of every possible version of their existence must be the thing that exhausts them enough to be of a frame of mind where they believe published writers shouldn’t get paid. It’s such a monumentally lazy thing to say, to believe that because they did one thing – that they were personally exploited – that no other pathway was open to them. It’s illogical nonsense, and that it’s people’s best defense for the morally bankrupt practice is a touch problematic.

It’s not ambiguous. If your website makes money, and you publish someone’s article, you pay them for it. Otherwise you’re making money from their work and giving them nothing, which is exploitation.

It’s important to note that I don’t know what Pocket Gamer plans to do beyond that stated in their post, that they plan to not pay their interns. Keith Andrew’s arguments below are his own, not theirs. I don’t say that to protect anyone, but rather just to make it clear.

In this evening’s argument with’s News Editor, Keith Andrew, he argued that unpaid internships are justifiable, because they’re for people who aren’t yet good enough at writing in their current state. His opening argument was that the copy they produce is lots of work for an editor to work into a publishable form, and thus it shouldn’t be paid for. Ignoring that editing work so it’s publishable is an editor’s job, this logic seems even more gross to me. You take someone and openly tell them they’re not good enough to make money without your help, and then have them write for you for a quarter of a year for “a few hours a day” without paying them a single penny, assured that their self-confidence is destroyed such that they’ll not think they’re worth being paid. What a great system.

The culture that doesn’t pay for content is self-perpetuating. Not just because it has produced a generation of writers who say, “I worked for free and it didn’t do me any harm”, ignoring how much better their lives would have been if they had been paid for that time, but because it (as I’ve previously argued) resets the value of words on gaming sites to zero. If a starting salary in this industry is no salary at all, then how much easier is it to not only convince the gullible, naive or desperate that this is good enough, but to underpay writers for the rest of their careers?

(There’s little doubt this is effective. Imagine Publishing pays some of the worst rates I’ve ever heard of, and their boss was recently boasting about how much profit the company was making, and was too cowardly to respond to anyone’s suggestions that he pay his staff more/at all in response.)

For all that’s wrong with Future, they were a company who – in my experience – treated unknown writers with the same dignity as established veterans. If you filled a page of the magazine, you were paid the full page rate. Experience wasn’t taken into consideration, and certainly no one was ever printed without being paid. The notion would have been horrendous.

Andrew’s second argument is that these writers are not good enough, and through this internship process they are given a chance to hone their skills and become better writers, until they presumably reach the level at which their words become worth money. There is so much wrong with this I’m going to forget something here, but here’s the list:

– Giving work to someone who isn’t good enough is taking away work from someone who is, and thus would have been paid. It’s screwing over the unpaid writer, and the freelancer who would otherwise have received the work.

– If you’re advertising internships to an audience of young writers desperate to succeed and enculturated by the notion that writing for free is necessary, you’re going to get good writers applying. Are you going to reject those in favour of crappy writers you can “help improve”? No, of course not. You’re going to grab the good writer and wring him/her dry for no money for as long as you can, hoping all your talk about the need for this process will prevent him/her from realising that they could get paid elsewhere.

– No matter what standard the writing may be judged to be, publishing it on your ad-driven site is making you money – money you’re not passing onto the author, which is disgraceful and exploitative.

– Someone who has the spark of a good writer can be recognised through the fog of any issues, and you can help them get their work to a publishable standard and then pay them for it. It’s not an impossible process, and I know this because it’s how I got started, and how PC Gamer and RPS operate with new young writers. Sometimes they don’t improve and you stop using them, other times they do and you’ve invested in a great writer. And of COURSE they get paid for everything that’s printed.

– There isn’t a Goodness-o-Meter on which someone’s writing can be measured until it dings the pay bracket. Either they’re words you want in your site/mag, or they’re not, and you pay if they are no matter how much work it is for you to sub/edit it.

Yes, this happens in other industries, of course it does. That this is used as an argument to justify it is beyond stupid. It’s wrong wherever it happens, and people should stand up to say so. I work in games journalism, so I stand up to say so here. And it doesn’t matter how many writers went through the same crap to get their jobs, that doesn’t justify it either. I don’t care if someone thinks it was fine for them – it wasn’t. They were being ripped off, no matter how naive/entrenched in the wretched system they are not to realise/admit that. Ripping others off isn’t a reasonable response. Let alone how utterly soul-destroying it is that people don’t see it as an opportunity to make things better than they were for them.

PS: I want to be completely clear about this. RPS, in its current form, pays all our writers (apart from one who refuses to be paid). When we started, Jim, Kieron, Alec and I were all writing in our spare time, for free, on the site we owned, and occasionally others volunteered their help too. Some people wrote for us on the understanding that they could advertise their own site in return, etc. We spent two years without being paid anything other than pocket money (I remember when the day came when it was paying half my quarter of the rent – it was so exciting), because we owned the business and were investing our own time into it. As it started to make money, so did we, and so did anyone else who wrote for us. Now we are a profitable business, with our revenue coming from our advertising, so we pay everyone who writes for us no matter their experience, and we pay over the UK industry norm.

I do not expect sites that don’t make any money to pay writers, and I don’t have any problem with young writers getting their words out there on non-profit sites. That’s great, it’s done in their own time, and no one is making money from their efforts.


35 Comments for this entry

  • PG

    Pocket Gamer was my first writing gig years ago – I got it off the back of having some of my (unpaid, personal) writing seen by one of the editors (I have no reason to believe this still would not be possible, despite Keith’s comments earlier). They were insistent on paying people, and my editor at the time was especially forceful about this. They were proud that they were taking on brand new writers and paying them, allowing them to hone their craft (which was helped by the excellent editorial feedback I received).

    It’s a real shame to see this happen, but the site has changed an awful lot over the years.

  • RevStu

    Yes. That stuff you just said. Yes. That.

  • sinister agent

    If you like wages so much, why don’t you go live there?

    I’ve got this great image of the person who doesn’t want to be paid recoiling from someone proffering a fistful of banknotes, perhaps wailing. But yes, also, all of the things you said are things that I agree with. It annoys the shit out of me when people attempt to justify mistreating others with “well, I was mistreated, too”. Why not try to make the place you’re in better, rather than perpetuate the parts that you know are bad just because you don’t have to deal with them anymore?

  • mrstrellis

    I’m still waiting for the Daily Mail to pay me for the article they nicked from my blog and published. For both times this happened, in fact.

  • Nick Mailer

    You didn’t pay me for my column in your FREQUENTLY PUBLISHED subscribers’ newsletter. You gave me a sweetie that tasted of evil salt instead.

  • Joe Martin

    If I didn’t type slower than you I would have said exactly the same thing, but less well.

  • John Walker

    The words you insisted on writing despite my not wanting them?

  • Optimaximal

    Nick, next you’ll be telling us he doesn’t pay you for not talking about topics on Rum Doings.

    Tell me it isn’t so!

  • Steve Fulton

    “…Sometimes they don’t improve and you stop using them…”

    I think this is the main reason people start off on unpaid writing gigs. There is a fear of failure, particularly in those of us who are uneducated (not been to Uni, etc), and writing for free takes a fair amount of the worry away. If I don’t get paid for my work, then I wont embarrass myself if it turns out I’m not very good.

    Just my two pennies.

  • Geetoo

    Does this only work for writers? What about people doing work experience at, say, law firms or accountancy firms? Should they refuse to get out of bed unless they are paid too? If not, why not?

  • The_B

    To be fair Nick, they were probably from the bag of Evil Salt Sweets I sent John as payment for one of his newsletters a while ago.

  • Mark

    Always good for the spirits to read something like this after the “free is the way in!” bullshit has been bandied about. Thanks.

  • John Walker

    Steve – uni isn’t relevant, honestly. I always encourage people to do a degree in something they’re interested in before pursuing a writing career, because it’s three years of knowledge, learning and being alive that can only add to your abilities. But it’s not necessary for being a great writer, and now it’s so astronomically expensive I imagine writing is not the job to aim for if you’ve just built up unimaginable debt. And if people want to hone skills without risking loss of work, write a blog. And then contribute to non-profit sites, of which there are very many.

    Geetoo – please actually read the article.

  • Aaron Beyer

    Fantastic rant about an issue very close to all writers hearts.

    Just so you know, I instinctively read this article in an English accent, and now my internal voice is stuck in that same accent.

    Thank you for shedding the light of insight and solution on this subject, and for the +3 Classiness stat boost.

    Fist Bump,

    Devoted Fan of RPS and now this blog,


  • Keith Andrew

    From what I can gauge, the problem you and I had on Twitter – and I thank you for the mention here by the way – was over just what an intern is.

    Your position seems to be that, anyone who writes anything that ends up on the pages of a website with advertiser should be defined as a writer, and as such should be paid. Were that how I defined it, then I’d agree with you.

    My point is, and always was, that many of the interns I’ve had experience with – and I’m speaking for myself here, and not Pocket Gamer – produce work that, even with the eye of an experienced editor cast over it, couldn’t be put live without some serious work. Work that goes well beyond what would be set aside to deal with articles produced by staff.

    Yes, of course, editing is an editors job. But there’s a big difference between editing someone’s work who is on staff and editing that of an intern: it’s no slur to suggest that, in most (but not all), the latter’s takes a lot more work.

    And this is where I draw the line between a writer and an intern.

    We’ve had several of interns who, generally speaking, have been pretty amazing from the word go. It’s no surprise that almost all of those chaps have gone on either to get a job with us, or with other websites and magazines. Likewise, we’ve had interns who are starting from square one: who not only have very little idea about the games industry, but also have a rather loose grasp on how to write even a basic article.

    That’s not intended as a criticism – indeed, plenty of these have gone on to pick up jobs later on too. Rather, this is intended to prove my point: the internship isn’t for established writers who haven’t got a break yet. It’s for those literally just starting out, who want what amounts to training. As a result, almost all of the interns I’ve seen come into PG during my time at the site have left far better writers because of it.

    So yes, their work ends up published on the site, but I would never ever suggest they’d been in any way exploited. I’d like to think that the vast majority who have been through our internship would agree with that assessment, too.

    This isn’t a case of taking on anybody for three months and having them work for us for free and then saying bye bye. As the site has expanded, the internship scheme has been another route into the PG family for those that have wanted to stay on and take up paid positions. For the anonymous person who posted the first reply to this entry, this system hasn’t replaced standard talent spotting either: PG still takes on new writers in paid positions, just as it always has.

    One does not cancel out the other.

    Your initial tweets seem to suggest, however, that it was the length of time that was bothering you. The 3 month period is not an attempt to stretch out their run on the site. Indeed, I’m relatively confident that, if internships at PG were just a week or two long, we’d be able to fill them: I have nothing to do with the program and even I get plenty of people contacting me asking for a spot.

    The three month period, in fact, is for their benefit, as arsey as it sounds. I’ve seen the internship in action from the sidelines and there’s a genuine knack to it, and those three months produce better writers at the end of the process than 1 month or less would.

    So, that’s my distinction. I don’t expect any established, ‘finished article’ writers with experience to apply for an internship on PG. I expect them to apply for writing or editorial positions. This is not an attempt to do away with paid positions. And, likewise, if someone with no experience whatsoever applies for a job but is clearly brimming with talent, then – as would be the case with any website or magazine – there’s a good chance they can walk straight into a job.

    It’s not so easy for everyone, though. The internship is one of the many options for new lads and lasses starting out looking for a route in. In an ideal world, they’d all be paid, I’d get a massive pay rise and would live in a swanky apartment with a swimming pool indulging in regular orgies with half the Man City squad.

    In reality, however – and I’m not in charge of the money for PG or any other site, so this is just an ‘educated guess’, if you will – internships are possible because the site in question doesn’t have to risk what tend to be extremely tight budgets to give people a chance. If they did, there’s a high chance the positions would dry up.

    So that’s my view. Internship offers training. The positions aren’t replacements for paid writers.

    Not intending to kick up a fuss, generate a reply or cause an argument: just wanted to clarify my thoughts in full, given you’d gone to the trouble of citing my tweets.

  • John Walker

    You’ve restated your position, and all my arguments above still stand in response to it.

    I’d also point out that your belief that no decent writers will apply is somewhat contradicted by beginning by saying you’ve had “pretty amazing” interns in the past.

    But most seriously, this “ideal world” bullshit is another part of the lie. It requires no fantasy land of unicorns and perfection to pay your bloody writers. Pretending it does is all part of this deception that’s necessary for this exploitative culture to exist, and it’s my goal to fight against this as much as I am able.

  • Derek K.

    Doesn’t eveyone get better at their job while doing it, though? That, or get fired. Isn’t that how this works? I don’t expect call center agents to work for free until they’re trained, or the like. What makes creatives different? Can I refuse to pay for a video game until I decide it’s good enough, because it’s a lot of work to enjoy it? No, wait, that’s piracy.

    I understand the “it lets us use new writers we couldn’t pay” argument, but if they’re good, they make you money. ROI.

    If they’re bad, someone good will be a betted choice. While you may occasionally polish a rough diamond, why? Take a shiny diamond. If you’re there to teach, open a free writer’s academy….

  • Keith Andrew


    You’re right in one sense. Internship or no internship, bad writers lose their jobs. PG wouldn’t lose out, because there are always good writers eager to take the place of bad writers on any website or magazine.

    So, if any of the interns were lucky enough to score a job instead – and, in this case, let’s say it’s one of the inexperienced ones – chances are they’d lose their job pretty quickly.

    And then they’re back to square one.

    There might be more positions out there on more websites and magazines, but there are also a lot more people all around the globe going for those positions. A lot more.

    So, instead of a guaranteed training spot on a website with – dare I say it – talented editors teaching them the trade for a set period, they’d go from job to job likely being filtered out as quickly as they were filtered in, never really learning anything or moving on up.

    Or they might end up on an amateur website, also working for free, being guided by editors not all the much more experienced than them.

    Albeit, that’s an example bent in my favour, but I’m speaking from experience. Corny as it sounds, I’ve seen what the internship can do, and I wouldn’t support it if it was any way exploitative. I’m not bound by anyone to say that – I genuinely believe it.

    I don’t think one size fits all here. Internships are an option. They’re not the only option.

  • devlocke

    Don’t you get college credits for internships? My (non-profit) radio station does a couple of internships every semester (a time period that is three or four months long, incidentally?) for kids at VCU and at local high schools, and they get 3 credit hours towards their degree for it, when they’re college students, and get credit for taking a course when they’re in high school. It’s not ‘paid’ but it’s not ‘uncompensated’ either.

  • Dean

    Keith, I think you make an excellent point on why interns should be paid *less* than staff writers. But in not paying them at all, you are profiting off it.

    I’m quite aware that editing copy from someone inexperienced can be a lot of work (it’s my day job) but it sort of comes down to the maths of it.

    Is the cost of hiring a writer more than the cost of hiring an intern plus the time other staff (mostly editors) spend on training and fixing their copy?

    I’d say the answer is no, and by a somewhat huge margin. Unless you have an editor who is spending 70-80% of his time with the intern for the entire three months, it won’t get anywhere near.

    Or from the intern’s perspective, I’d look at exactly what they’re getting out of that training. Take your starting writer salary. Divide by four to get the three-month salary. Can you honestly, hand-on-heart, say that you’re providing that value in training over the three months? Or put another way, if you did the internship the exact same way but never used anything the intern produced on the site, would you feel comfortable *charging* someone that amount for the experience?

  • Dean

    And of course, when I said ‘no’ I meant ‘yes’.

  • Tyler Jinks

    @devlocke Some internships get credit hours, true. I would say that the credit hours are a completely justified method of payment (because uni’s expensive anyway). I’m fairly certain that the internship needs to be approved by the university, though, which is extremely unlikely to happen for any games journalist internship.

    I did the unpaid thing a while ago. While I don’t regret doing it, I wouldn’t say that it’s exactly helped me get actual paid freelance work. Then again, mine was a special case where the editor went to work for a much larger news place and I got stuck manning the helm by myself. It was interesting, but my writing stagnated in “mediocre” territory and I ended up quitting about six months later.

    I wish that I had gotten better experience from it, but I can’t exactly begrudge them because they were most assuredly losing money on the site in the first place.

  • Rosti

    It’s interesting to see this discussion from the games journalism perspective; I’ve been involved in a few similar conversations over charity internships. In that industry you can more easily attempt to justify not paying your peripheral and inexperienced staff so you can tease the argument out a little longer.

    If unpaying positions in fully-fledged organizations were the only place to get experience then I’d be a lot more willing to sit down and discuss how we could make this a more friendly system but thankfully (as John noted in the last rant) there are other ways to hone talent. Here’s hoping games journalism gravitates to a model that nurtures new writers and brings them into work without all this muckiness.

  • Nick Mailer

    Keith Andrew: “editing is an editors job”

    That’s EDITOR’S ;-)

  • Nick Mailer

    Keith: why not pay those who do work for you, but at a lower intern rate commensurate with the lack of experience they have and the small risk you’re taking in investing in them? Why pay them *nothing*?

  • John Walker

    It’s so important to note that what Keith Andrew is doing is deliberately obfuscating by trying to make this a debate about the value of internship. That’s nothing to do with anything here. No one is arguing against the possibility that an internship might be useful. The simple and only necessary response is: Yes, but also pay them.

  • John Walker

    Devlocke – It’s my understanding that the college credit system in the US is an attempt to bypass the laws put in place to prevent exploitation like Pocket Gamer’s. It became a requirement that interns be paid, so businesses invented a way out of that.

    However, no such system exists in the UK where interns are still free to be exploited.

  • evotech

    This creative businiss seem really cruel. Ive had several jobs where i had to be trained to do my job, but you always get paid. Anything else is exploitation. It’s pretty black and white.

  • Bob

    I have a week organised in Summer involving work experience with PC Gamer. I was really super chuffed that I managed to get it but was it a bad decision to do so? Advice much appreciated!

  • John Walker

    No, a week’s work experience is a very different thing. It’s a chance to find out how a mag works, while doing crummy office jobs.

  • Lewis

    I don’t *necessarily* think that unpaid internships are always 100 percent evil. The problem, though, is absolutely about the definition of ‘internship’. Because surely, an internship is supposed to be about a person learning from those with experience, and a core component of this is being *taught* as the crux of said internship. I know that there are publications who do this, though they might be rare.

    The problem for me is that so many unpaid internships aren’t about that; they’re about ‘experience’ and ‘working alongside professionals’ and all sorts of other wishy-washy nonsense that amounts to this: even if you, as the intern, are benefiting out of the gig, the company you’re interning for has had to put minimal effort into facilitating said benefit. Plus, three months of essentially full-time work for no pay is absolutely ludicrous. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who could reasonably not lose out on that.

    You should never do something for nothing. Write for free if you want, but wherever you’re writing should be giving you something back. Not a space to be published, not experience, because a WordPress blog will do just fine for that. Something tangible: supervision and training, advice, and active insight into the industry. It seems only fair.

    Of course, the level at which this works depends on the size of the publication, but even smaller sites should be able to give something back – and if they can’t, then ‘it’s good experience’ doesn’t stick.

    But yes. Don’t write for free when someone else is profiting. ‘Profiting’ being a crucial word as well. There are many ad-supported sites that don’t profit at all, because those ads don’t even begin to cover the costs of hosting/travel/accommodation/games/general stuff you need to run a website. Resolution made about £40 a year through advertising and cost me about £400 a year to run.

  • Roland Moore-Colyer

    I think John hit the nail of the head with PC Gamer experience. I did a week there and got a good insight into how the magazine is produced, and while I wasn’t given too many skivvy tasks, my writing wasn’t taken an published for free (that could be down to the fact it wasn’t up to standard) and I wasn’t exploited in any way. My only criticism is that I never got the feedback mentioned by Graham Smith, but he was busy that week and I didn’t pursue it enough.

    I also agree with John about paying interns for writing; if work is good enough to be published on a commercial site than it has value and is worth paying for. If an interns work needs so much editing then it is likely to end up being more the editor’s writing not the interns and should be published under the editor’s name, otherwise your encouraging inters to pass off work that is barely theirs, and that too close to plagiarism for my liking.

    If magazines/websites were to offer competitions for a week to a months unpaid/free intensive training that provided interns with a full protfolio and skills to match, then that seems fair. Luring amateur writers in with the promise publication but no pay is pretty insidious.

    In short it’s pretty black an white: pay writers for published work regardless of who they are.

  • Roland Moore-Colyer

    I think things get a bit muddy when you look at unpaid internships with other industries. I’m currently job seeking and virtually every position I look at requires prior experience. Now I can understand that to a certain extent (there are some jobs that look for a years + of work experience for very little pay), jobs are limited, there’s a market saturated with decent graduates, and employers want candidates with more than just a good education and attitude. And, with journalism/writing aside it seems that internships, paid or otherwise, are the only way to get the experience needed.

    But, there is a fine line between benefiting and being exploited from an unpaid internship. For example if you studied Law and have been pretty much trained to do a job, and then undertake an unpaid internship to end up doing the same job as another paid worker, then you’re being exploited. If you have a lot to learn and skills to develop through an unpaid position then that’s a bit more acceptable.

    My own experience with unpaid internships is a positive one. As a journalism graduate with no prior experience and lost of competition for few jobs, I (sold out) turned to PR and marketing. I was told I needed more agency experience to secure a paid role (due to more experienced candidates getting jobs I when for) and so I did several short 2 week to a month long placements.

    As someone with little knowledge of PR, I learnt a lot, developed new skills, and was given access to information and clients that I would be able to get outside of the placement. While I was working for free doing a variety of tasks (some good, some dull) I felt that my work was paying for the knowledge and skill I was developing in return. Most of the PR writing that I did was used and forwarded on to the press, but I never felt I deserved to be paid or was being exploited, as 1) I didn’t have the amount of work or duties that work a paid member of staff was required to do,
    2) I wasn’t taking work away from freelancers or plugging a gap the agencies would have otherwise have filled with a paid employee; I felt that my work was lending a helping hand that made life easier for the fully-fledged workers nothing more.

    But coming to the end of my placements I felt that I was beginning to produce the quality and amount of work that would warrant some pay, and I did hear some mumbles from directors that there may be a job for me with the agency in the future. If I was there for much longer I’d start to think I had earned the right to be paid.

    Of course my experience is different to that of many others, I know plenty of interns have been exploited for free labour, while other have just turned up to do the bare minimum to put experience on their Cvs I’m also aware that some sectors of the PR industry, and a vast parts of other industries, are pretty much fuelled by unpaid interns. But if it wasn’t for those internships, where else would we get experience that employers demand?

    All that being said, while I think there is a place for internships and placements, the whole system of no pay, stinks; I’ve also read that some companies expect to be paid to allow interns in to then work for free, which is just sickening. Unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution to this is; universities could work harder to ensure graduates of vocational degrees are work-ready when they leave, and the government could certainly do more for job seekers. Sadly, think at the moment private companies hold all the aces when it comes to paying and helping interns, and what they do with that power will all depend of their moral stances and ethics.

    It’s all a bit of a conundrum.

    But, writers of every level deserved to be paid for published work.

  • Matt Duhamel

    I am super late to this party, but I feet the need to offer my own position. As an aspiring writer, mere months into my journey, this topic is at the core of the decisions that stand before me, and I hope some of you can offer some insight.

    There are several considerations that compete in my mind. Most importantly, I believe people should be paid fairly – I would be livid if I knew my work had made someone a serious amount of money and they chose not to share that with me. At the same time, however, I know how much work it takes to improve one’s writing; and growth comes much more slowly in a vacuum. I know that I need to show people my work to grow as a writer, and those people need to have more skill than I do.

    This takes time, and energy on the part of the people who assist me, and while I have no problem in sending emails or twitter messages to editors I feel comfortable only up to a point. I don’t want to have a reputation as the annoying upstart who is always asking for free help. I want to treat them as fairly as I would want to be treated.

    So what am I to do? Writing in a void seems far less useful than writing to an audience, but getting professional practice through queries and pitches only seems to go so far. It seems like, barring being given a rare opportunity such as writing for RPS, the best way to put my work consistently in front of people who can help me grow is to share my work on sites like Bitmob or Gamasutra Community, or to take an unpaid internship at a place like PocketGamer.

    This is where I am hoping to be given some insight into alternatives. I definitely understand where John Walker is coming from, but I know that leaving my work in a place that no one will read it puts just as much money in my pocket as an unpaid internship and it offers me less value in the form of criticism. I also feel like a bit of a heel demanding fair pay for my work when my experience is near zero. Maybe I am undervaluing my own abilities? I am not sure.

    If anyone would like to chime in and offer me some advice I’d really appreciate it. You can also just message me on twitter (@dualhammers) if you’d prefer.