A video game journalist discusses the dedication, work, and joy of the industry.
This editorial is non-game specific and solely based on insights and opinions from its author.
One comment I receive a lot when I explain my job to others is "That's awesome! How do I get into doing that?!" There is no perfect answer to this query, and despite how awesome working in this industry sounds and really is, it's hard work and not quite as glamorous as you may be envisioning in your head.
Working on a gaming fan/press site requires a lot of dedication outside of game(s). We don't actually spend most of our day playing these games for hours on end (unless we're working on a review). Often, we find that there's only a handful of time to spend in-game while dedicating the majority of our workday to emails, writing breaking news about games we may or may not actually play, writing guides, participating in social media, and so on. It doesn’t matter if you’re the editor-in-chief or a contributing writer; as a friend succinctly told me, “Everyone in the gaming press has to wear multiple hats, from the smallest fan site to the largest press operation.”
It's hard work, but there's many upsides to the industry. Experiencing some awesome games and genres that we may not have normally considered playing. Running into fans of your site, giving the chance to further connect with the gaming community and hear their feedback (I've made lists of both positive and negative feedback at conventions). Meeting some amazing co-workers, producers, developers, community reps, and public relations folks. Peeking behind-the-doors at upcoming development and content. Being entrusted by those companies that you'll not only honor time-sensitive info, but also treat their games objectively and constructively.
My story is 6.5 years in the making, and though I now pen the final page of my epilogue at ZAM, there are always opportunities out in the gaming world. This goes back to that question about how to get into this line of work. Assuming you just wanted to be a writer, then contribute on your favorite gaming community's forums, add to wikis, and write blog posts. If you prefer livestreaming and videos, then produce that content and share it on social media and forums. Go to a convention, meet some developers, say hello to other gamers. Always look for an opening that fits your style.
The most important thing is to be involved. You could be a paid employee for some big-name press site, a freelancer submitting a few reviews in their spare time, or just a respected member of the community. What's essential is that you are doing something you love and your voice is reaching others who share that passion.
That's all I ever wanted to do, and it's what I will continue to do. *mic drop*