5 Tips: Breaking Into Freelance Games Journalism

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I’ve been working steady as a games journalist for better than two years now, and occasionally I’m asked about how to get into the industry. There are no hard and fast rules, unfortunately — nor is breaking into the industry at all easy for anyone. I wound up here by a confluence of lucky circumstances and persistence.

However, it’s definitely possible to get work as a freelancer, in any segment of journalism. But freelance work is as much about playing salesperson as it is writing, and you have to be able to handle both in most circumstances. The bad news is that being your own salesman as well as writer kind of sucks. The good news is, you can distinguish yourself if you’re a little bit savvy and willing to work for it.

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How I wound up a video game industry journalist

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Occasionally I get asked about how I wound up doing what I primarily do for a living, which is working as a freelance games journalist at GameFront.com, as well as how others might make their way into the industry. I know quite a few people who’d like to find a way to do what I do, so I figured a series of posts to that end would be useful. Here’s the first.

Mine’s not a particularly inspiring story, except perhaps for how mundane it is — it carries an air of “I’m a games journalist, and so can you!” So I mean to impart the tale and a few tips along the way maybe, though it’s probably not an experiment that can be replicated.

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Looking to the Gaming Community for New Stories

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Something you learn quickly when working at a small video gaming website like the one for which I work, GameFront.com, is that access of any kind is really hard to come by.

Quickly, it becomes really difficult to execute what you might call “journalism” in other circles. Doing research and getting interviews with the people who actually make the games you’re writing about is notoriously difficult, and the entire industry is under tight controls by public relations companies. The game-making industry controls the message as best as it can, whenever it can, regardless of what the message is. Innocuous questions go unanswered all the time because information control is power in this industry, and publishers wield it. It’s hard to blame them, really.

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In need of a power-up for my brain

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Allow me to pimp my latest Top 10 list for FileFront: the 10 Greatest Game Power-Ups to Have in Real Life.

I’m extremely proud of the list – I think it’s the funniest thing I’ve yet written as a freelancer for the video game website. So you should go read it, especially because it took me almost two weeks to make it happen. And it almost didn’t.
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Hornshaw’s Comic Con coverage

So one of the big benefits of living in Los Angeles: the mecca of all nerddom, the San Diego Comic Con, is about as far away from me as my alma mater was from my parents’ house.

What’s more, my freelancery at FileFront means I’ll be doing some news coverage from the event when I hop up there Saturday with hetero life mate Nick Hurwitch. Not only will I be enjoying it, I’ll be getting paid to enjoy it.

It is now all the more enjoyable.

So here’s a quick post about where you can see all kinds of Hornshaw-related Comic Con stuff tomorrow. Here, obviously, will be a few of the more thinkpiece/analysis write-ups I occasionally do about things, so anything that strikes me as interesting enough will probably appear on hornshaw.com on Sunday.

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