There are a lot of people who dream about one day getting paid to write about games.
Luckily, there are also a lot of people who are in these positions, with more opportunities always popping up.
I’m probably not the first to let the secret out, but videogame journalism isn’t a private clubhouse and we’re not rock stars. Those who write about videogames are dedicated, educated and above all, hard working. And while it wouldn’t be right to say it’s an easy industry to get into – this isn’t working for NASA. Communication comes naturally to almost everyone; it is just a process of honing skills and finding where you fit best in the process. Don’t get discouraged or let the noise of others dissuade you from trying your hand at writing, or being involved in the process of writing about the games.
So, the Process of writing about games – that’s where my first piece of advice stems from. You likely want to be a games writer because you want to be involved with an industry you feel attached to, right? Well, the unfortunate part is that you’re part of an entire generation of kids, now adults, who feel the same way. But a videogame magazine, website or television show isn’t made up of a crew of 25 people who just want to write about games. There are a huge number of elements that go into making a piece of videogame related media publishable, and with so many people who want to be writers there are always gaps left in production for people who have other skills to lend to the process. Scroll through the masthead of any videogame publication and you’ll see a very long list of people that are all as involved in the actual ‘writing’ about games as the author. From working in the art department, with production, photography, and illustration to the corporate and advertising spectrum – there are many ways to remove yourself from a very large pool of competition. Try working yourself into more specialized areas. The goal is to find out what you can do better than other people. If what you can do better than everyone else is truly writing – then you will likely get ahead on that alone, and you can just skip ahead. For everyone else – it’s important to look outside of the typical image of the soloist ‘videogame journalist’, because behind that writer’s byline there are anywhere from five to ten people who put him on that page. Find out what your strengths are and work with them, not against them.
Find out what your strengths are and work with them, not against them.Next comes actually being good at what you’ve realized you have a talent for. Simply put, there is almost no better place to do this than school. I feel you can’t go wrong with journalism school for getting the most rounded education in media production. You’ll learn how to tell stories with words, how to tell stories with pictures, and how to teach other people to tell stories. You’ll get a practical education so you can enter the workforce with a deep understanding of what needs to be done and how to do it. There are also much more specialized schooling you can do from public relation degrees to illustration and media design. Whether you go broad or specialized in your educational path – be educated. Take school for all it is worth while you’re there and treat it like a real job, because for the most part it is.
Lastly after all this prep work to make yourself employable, there is the seemingly insurmountable issue of finding a job. Well luckily all your legwork in school has made you surer of your skills and place in the industry. Aim high and send out resumes, and offer yourself for internships. You’re not trying to get hired under a potentially false pretense of talent anyway; so let the employer ‘try before they buy’. Also, please be a team player, don’t say no to anything (within reason), and work for the betterment of yourself and the product. Being easy to work with is almost as important being good at what you do. Show the company your worth, and work yourself into a position where without you, it will look like a piece of the puzzle that made the company whole is missing. With the right attitude, there is definite possibility of working in the videogame media field. Barring finding a job with an established outlet – make your own. The power of the blogoshpere is overwhelming, and you will make real world connections that will only help you as your career starts taking off.
Many people get disheartened from the idea that there isn’t any place for the new guy in the field. Some are convinced that there is a glass ceiling on videogame journalism arena to anyone that doesn’t have 5,000 followers on Twitter or a legacy of articles on a major gaming site. None of that is true. There is always a place for hard working and talented individuals.