The relevant portions of the Internet blew up a little bit today over an article that pointed to noted games journalist Geoff Keighley, using an out-of-context photo of him speaking next to a big ad for Halo 4 on one side, a pile of Mountain Dew and Doritos on the other.
The purpose of Rab Florence’s article in Eurogamer, which can be read here, was to point out the troubling relationship much of the gaming press has with the gaming industry. Journalists and PR folks are friends, he notes, and there are plenty in our industry that look like shills for their’s. And this is fundamentally at odds with what your job is supposed to be whenever you practice journalism. It’s akin to fraternizing with the enemy.
I can’t say Florence is wrong, and there was a time when I would have argued just as vehemently the points that he presents in his article. Having worked in this industry for a while, however, I’ve come to be a little more lax in my position on the matter. Much of what makes up the “games journalism industry” isn’t journalism, and to treat it as such, to judge it as such, and to wring your hands over it as such, is a waste of time.
Friend and colleague Phil R. Owen sold a column to gaming site Kotaku earlier this week, and was I was talking to him about the project, he said that advice I had given him had helped in the sale. Namely, that advice was that he should write articles and sell them, rather than rely on pitches of abstract ideas. I’m taking that as an endorsement of the list of tips I posted a while back, which you can find here.
Meanwhile, Phil’s story seems to have really touched a nerve, because the Kotaku story (here) got a fair amount of attention and a lot of positive response from readers.
Phil called me to tell me how excited he was about the story’s success, as he’s lately been trying the route of straight freelance rather than working for a specific games outlet. Getting published on Kotaku, especially with the article he sold (it discusses issues of mental health, namely depression), is a big win in that regard, and he seems to be getting his feet under him, which is great.
It’s not as much fun as you think.
Inevitably, readers on the Internet always seem to subscribe some incredible attributes to games journalists. Usually these have to do with the exorbitant checks we must be receiving from publishers and developers to sway public opinion. I figured today I’d take a minute and clear up a few misconceptions about the glamorous life of playing games for a living, for your edification.
Sometimes, if you just ask for things, you get them.
That’s the case with Stan Lee’s Comikaze, a Los Angeles-based comic convention taking place this weekend. I’m pleased to announce that Nick and I will be taking part in a So You Created a Wormhole panel at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16.
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.
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.
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.