Just how lucrative is gaming journalism in USA anyway?
November 25, 2004 11:19 AM   Subscribe

My younger brother is doing a Bacherlor's degree in journalism and is acing his course so far. But what he really wants to do is "gaming journalism" (yes, he's nuts.) Well, you could call him a "hardcore gamer". Just how lucrative is gaming journalism in USA anyway (figures?) [some more important health packs and armour inside...]

Right... a minor detail: I live in India, so that's where "here" is. The gaming journalism business here is non-existant, just for the record.

So he reckons that if he did a master's in journalism and mass communication from a good University in USA, he'd find it easier to get a job in the business there.

Is this a good idea? Is gaming journalism really a career? How do you get hired in the biz?
posted by madman to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I have absolutely no idea, but I know people who want to get into sports journalism, and at least they have the chance to hone their skills and paycheck on crappy high school football matches. Eventually, they'll win the lottery and get into a respectable newspaper.

I'm not sure if that opportunity exists for gaming journalism, other than joining into a gaming community or just starting a blog and reviewing games on your own. I think if your brother began writing reviews or commentary on a blog, he may get noticed, and at the very least, get better at it. Who knows, he may get picked up by a gaming site to write for them.

And I think gaming journalism is an oasis not unlike professional video game bugtester.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:33 AM on November 25, 2004

Best answer: I've found you can do anything with some practice and the sooner you get some experience under your belt, the better job you'll do. I'd say he should start a blog about gaming industry stuff. At first, he could just skim the news and tease out all the interesting stories that have something to do with gaming. He could also in a sense start the gaming journalism market in India by creating it. He could find programmers working on games and interview them, or cover whatever news he hears about it. Heck, he could just write about how games are being handled in India. Do people like fighting games? adventure games? sports games?

Look at me -- I'm some dork that nearly failed every english class I ever took, but after a years of blogging, I started a blog about tivo all on my own and just a couple days ago I taped an interview with CNN about some tivo news. If I had a journalism degree, I'm sure it would have come easier but if I could do it, I think anyone could with enough practice.
posted by mathowie at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2004

Word of advice from someone with a B.A. in Journalism who's living with a J-school grad student: Major in something outside of journalism!

Instead, look at a major that touches on something he's wanting to write about - the writers that get hired are, more often than not, experts in a field, people who have worked directly with science or politics or have been doing graduate-level historic research... Magazines would rather have people with *practical* experience who can write.

Also: the freelance market is *choked* with writers right now. It's intensely competitive, with thousands of writers and very, very few jobs. Most freelancers - he would have to start as a freelancer, make connections, keep busy with various forms of writing - wind up doing something OTHER than writing to make ends meet. It's not a luxurious lifestyle.
It's hard to find the experience with just a J-school degree.
While you'll get the basics, the how-to about writing and constructing and supporting a newspaper/magazine/news broad cast in J-school, it's not going to help a person much to land a writing job.

Unless he wants to teach journalism, there's no real reason to get a Master's.

My advice? Have him look at the computer science/MIS/Informatics programs, as knowledge of computer technology and programs will lend great credibility and understanding to his writing.
posted by salsamander at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2004

Evil Avatar's website is a sort of MonkeyFilter for the gaming community; it often has some engaging threads on press ethics. Some of the better meta-discussions to examine are the threads concerning magazine coverage and how to actually review games.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2004

I'm with Matt about the blogging idea as it's wound me up in some pretty freaky places as well. Being in India may definitely be a niche he can use to his advantage and it doesn't take much to start.

It's extremely low investment, good practice, good portfolio material, can lead to a lot of interesting things and it also helps you figure out if you can maintain the stamina and interest in the subject you've chosen. After a month or two of blogging gaming journalism and not getting much attention he'll know if it's really something he wants to pursue.
posted by frenetic at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2004

I'm working on a project that started life within a gamer-focused mag. It's not about games, but draws from the economic practices of the gamer mag. The pay is quite abysmal; the only journalistic entertainment-industry field I know of that pays less is covering comics.

That said, the market is growing, certainly. But since the field, like film or music, draws fanatical devotees who really really want to write about what matters most to them, it's probably a hard place to earn a living.

He should, I think, look around and find more than just the one subject to cover. Software would be a great, closely-related field, for example.
posted by mwhybark at 12:18 PM on November 25, 2004

What mathowie said. I have a friend who is now regularly interviewed on television and radio about two completely different subjects he has no degree in, simply because he started two serious blogs, churned out quality work week after week, and earned respect as the "go to" guy for good writing on those subjects.
posted by 4easypayments at 2:06 PM on November 25, 2004

I agree with the blogging angle from mathowie. I would recommend that he blog, stay current with the industry, go to conventions, start developing contacts if possible, but also work hard on the fundamentals of journalism. A good J-school background can be invaluable, particularly if it's coupled with a wealth of specific knowledge about a given field.
posted by Vidiot at 2:11 PM on November 25, 2004

J-school graduate here. Don't go.

Your friend should just start writing reviews and pestering every possible editor with them, in an extremely persistent manner. And start a nice website, too.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2004

This question is probably better posted on the forums at Quarter To Three, which is where a ton of real game journalists and game creators hang out and post. They've actually answered the question a few times from what I've seen, so do a search in their forum archives.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2004

I'm doing my B.A. in Journalism (well, "Media and Communications"), and I was ready to jump ship at the first sign of the course having no practical value in my future career. But so far I've gotten a fair few connections to writers, editors, maintainers of online journals, etc. through the course. Most Journalism courses should be able to hook their students up with at least one internship, no? Does he have a course adviser or someone similar to whom he could speak about getting an internship at a gaming magazine? That could give him industry experience, as well as something good to put on his resume.

Also, I second the "major in something that is not journalism" statement. Although I'm majoring in Linguistics, so I don't know how far that'll get me.
posted by fricative at 7:40 PM on November 25, 2004

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