How do I find work as a gaming journalist?
May 23, 2006 11:40 AM   Subscribe

My two true talents are writing and spending entirely too much time on videogames. Help this flakey fanboy combine his pointless pursuits for profit.

I want to work for a videogame magazine. I believe myself well-qualified for the work, as writing and gaming are two of my most persistant obsessions. I have a fair chunk of English and Journalism education. I worked for a small newspaper for a year. And my independant research of gaming stretches back to the summers I sacrificed to my Sega Master system. I gaming earned degrees, you could call me doctor.

What I don't know is how to break into the business of gaming journalism. I'm looking for the shortest route from entry-level work to the kind I could support myself on. I'd like to obtain submission guidelines from a number of magazines, but I don't know who to ask. Please point this noob in the right direction.

Tell you what - if I get an answer that gets me in, I'll try and sneak the poster into the next E3.
posted by EatTheWeak to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you considered writing reviews for a gamer website or magazine? You might not get paid at first, but you can assemble a bunch of clips, which might help you get paid eventually.

Also, look into ghostwriting. I have been doing this since February and it's working out really well. Check out ads on Craigslist.
posted by urania at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2006


I'd like to obtain submission guidelines from a number of magazines, but I don't know who to ask.

I don't know about gaming magazines specifically, but most magazines post their guidelines on their website.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:53 AM on May 23, 2006


Maybe apply for an intern job at IGN?
posted by lilboo at 11:57 AM on May 23, 2006


I'm not a writer but I play one at parties.
I've got a bunch of friends still at the "writing for free or minimal pay" stage at many, many publications. Although they're mostly doing music journalism/culture stuff, I would imagine the process is the same.
Write to editors and ask about submission/proposal guidelines, if they're not posted on the website. Have some writing samples ready to send in, they'll want them. Do you have any reviews of games or the kind of articles you want to write? Start writing some, for practice. Do you know anyone working for or otherwise writing for any publication you're remotely interested in writing for? Use that connection.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 12:01 PM on May 23, 2006


look into working for a company like Prima Games, who make strategy guides, both print and online. These guides require that the author have an intimate knowledge of the game they're writing about, and could probably be completed on your own for the most part. Hello, telecommuting dream job.
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:02 PM on May 23, 2006


You might be interested in this interview with Che Chou on how he got into videogame journalism.
posted by bobo123 at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2006


You could also try your hand at authoring game guides, you know, the books full of screenshots that walk you through a game and are heavily pushed by sales staff at the chain stores.

Start by authoring guides at gamefaqs.com and move up to paid work once you're recognized and have honed your skills.

As a bonus, if you get established with major publishers, you'll get hands on experience with new games before they're released.
posted by de void at 12:14 PM on May 23, 2006


start your own blog. there are folks who developed enough of a following with their free time game-related blog writing that they were then able to catch the attention of places like gamespot, game informer, etc... either way, it never hurts to have written regularly, even if only self published, and be able to say to someone "Here's a portfolio of material that I write on a weekly/daily/whateverly basis."
posted by shmegegge at 12:46 PM on May 23, 2006


If you're a really good writer you should start a games blog of your own. Why work for the MAN!?
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2006


I second blog idea. Start your own blog and then maybe apply as a writer for a gaming blog.
posted by freakystyley at 1:21 PM on May 23, 2006


Lots of people want to be a videogame journalist, so getting in is hard. You will need to show you are so excited about game journalism that you already do it on your own time. Start a gaming blog, write some faqs, send reviews to existing gaming blogs on spec, offer to write a gaming column for a local newspaper, and generally get yourself a history of well-written reviews and opinion columns. Ideally you will get yourself a good reputation to trade on, at the very least, you will have lots of material to show in interviews and send as samples. You are unlikely to get a job working on a gaming magazine with no history as a reviewer, so start now and good luck!
posted by Joh at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2006


The blog idea is a great one.

About seven years ago I decided I wanted to write about Linux. I wrote some stuff about Linux for myself on my own site, volunteered for the documentation group for an open source project and let another writer already working in the field know I was looking.

I caught a break after about six months in the form of a freelance gig that turned first into a regular writing assignment, then into a pair of freelance editorships, then into a salaried job and a book contract.

That was all on the strength of a.) demonstrated interest in the content area by doing volunteer work in it and b.) plenty of samples people could go look up.

My interest in Linux eventually waned, but the company I ended up working for as an editor has plenty of other vertical sites and I just moved over to other areas.
posted by mph at 3:44 PM on May 23, 2006


I got into video games journalism by sending a sample review to a magazine and not mentioning my lack of experience. One review an issue became three, became a full-time position. Console-based stuff can be harder than PC gaming because you'll need access to a debug console, so you can't always do it from home, but employers are increasingly using staff who work from home.
A lot of clich├ęs get trotted out about journalism of any kind - how the competition is huge, how it's really difficult to get into and how you have make contacts and slowly work your way up. In my experience, all this has been a bit of an exaggeration. Building up a steady portfolio and slowly garnering experience is probably the most reliable way of getting into the industry, but the main qualification is can you write well? That said, a cursory glance at the quality of reviews on something like Gamespot should make it abundantly clear that a knack good writing is far from mandatory.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:17 PM on May 23, 2006


Weblogs, Inc (Joystiq, PS3 Fanboy, PSP Fanboy, Xbox 360 Fanboy, Wii Fanboy, etc) pays their bloggers.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:55 PM on May 23, 2006


Thank you, everyone, for the time you took answering my question. These are some great answers.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:32 AM on May 24, 2006


You don't mention where you live, but Gamespot.co.uk (UK gaming site) is looking for a gaming news reporter. Job details here.
posted by ingridm at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2006


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