Game journalism-age: being in-between jobs is not fun :(

Status
Not open for further replies.
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#1
Let me preface this by saying I've been a game journalist for 2+ years. I've written for only three publications in this time but I have a fair amount of experience under my belt having written many reviews, news articles, etc. Now, as you could guess from the title, I am in-between jobs. Well, sort of. You could say that I currently write for Siliconera but I am rarely commissioned by my editor for articles and he rarely replies when I propose an idea for an article myself. So I consider that more of a side job.

Anyway, for those GAFfers who work in game journalism, how do you go about getting gigs? I know a lot of it is about connections and I do have a lot of connections including N'Gai Croal whom I know as a result of my dad (who used to be his coworker) introducing me to him. However, I mainly ask for their advice when seeking critique on an article I've written.

So, do any of you have advice? I've tried contacting tons of sites over the months but I've never gotten a reply back. One of my former bosses did put in a good word for me at his current gig with GameShark so hopefully that goes through. I should probably end this by saying that game journalism is my desired career and I'm very determined to become a well-known game journalist some day.

BTW, if anyone wants, I could provide some work samples. Just say the word.
 

GDJustin

stuck my tongue deep inside Atlus' cookies
Jun 7, 2004
15,451
8
0
San Francisco
#3
If you're freelance you just need to hustle hustle hustle.

With so many publications shuttering, the talent pool is quite a bit bigger than the available work... that's all there is to it. Some people are just going to lose out, sadly.

So if you don't want to be one of those people you'll need to work every single lead you ever met. Try to introduce yourself to eeeeeeeevvvverry editor of every mag and website out there, big or small.
 

McBacon

SHOOTY McRAD DICK
Mar 7, 2006
13,312
0
0
United Kingdom
#4
Yeah, I'm in a similar situation over here in the UK. I've got the experience, but I'm not sure where to go from here.

I'm not sure where to look for positions either: any suggestions?
 
Dec 12, 2006
13,626
0
0
#10
Yeah like Segata said, aren't you like 16 years old?

Just keep on keeping on, especially as a freelancer. Never phone it in and do your best to get your name out there.
 
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#11
tim1138 said:
Yeah like Segata said, aren't you like 16 years old?

Just keep on keeping on, especially as a freelancer. Never phone it in and do your best to get your name out there.
There's a four year difference between 16 and 12.

Yeah, thanks. I've never even considered throwing in the towel. :)
 
Jun 6, 2006
8,823
0
0
#12
JSnake said:
There's a four year difference between 16 and 12.

Yeah, thanks. I've never even considered throwing in the towel. :)
All the more reason to go ahead and start your own site. Here I was thinking that you needed to pay the rent off your journalism wages. Get some good stuff up on your own .com, maybe milking some of the contacts you do have to get a link here or there.
 
Dec 12, 2006
13,626
0
0
#13
JSnake said:
There's a four year difference between 16 and 12.

Yeah, thanks. I've never even considered throwing in the towel. :)
Well either way, and I mean no offense by this, you have plenty of time create a solid body of work and get your stuff out there.
 
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#14
platypotamus said:
All the more reason to go ahead and start your own site. Here I was thinking that you needed to pay the rent off your journalism wages. Get some good stuff up on your own .com, maybe milking some of the contacts you do have to get a link here or there.
I could do content for my own site. Everything else, though...

Oh and server bills.
 
Oct 15, 2004
2,156
0
0
#17
I'm interested in gaming journalism myself (I'm currently in college studying journalism). I would like a sample of your work if you want to pm it to me. I'll give you a thorough response with time.
 
Nov 1, 2007
5,537
0
0
San Antonio, Tx
#18
JSnake said:
I am focused on school "and stuff". And my mom's fine with it. Encourages it actually. As does my father.

edit: I'm homeschooled btw.
1. Homeschooled
2. Mom works for gaming company
3. Your complaining about no work and your 16?


REALLY? You made it seem like it was a real job in real life for you, as in paying rent/car/ins/phone/food/bills to survive. Wow :lol
 
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#19
oneHeero said:
1. Homeschooled
2. Mom works for gaming company
3. Your complaining about no work and your 16?


REALLY? You made it seem like it was a real job in real life for you, as in paying rent/car/ins/phone/food/bills to survive. Wow :lol
Yeah, I'm complaining about no work, so what? I enjoy what I do and it's important to me. C'mon man, seriously.
 

arne

Member
Sep 13, 2005
5,576
0
1,135
Santa Monica, CA
www.arnemeyer.com
#21
Dude, you're young and you're in an enviable position in that you can afford to write for free even if that isn't preferred. Don't tell potential employers that though. I mean, start a site, write an insightful blog with all the story ideas Siliconera shoots down -- anything to be generating quality content on a consistent basis. That will all benefit you in the long run.

Also, say with Siliconera -- try to find out why your story ideas aren't being picked up. Try to find out if there's a particular angle or type of story they want you to be writing. See if there's any constructive criticism -- maybe you're proposing stories they don't feel will resonate well with their readership. etc.


You've got plenty of time, don't sweat the lulls like this. Just a minor setback.
 
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#22
The thing with Siliconera is that my editor has a track record for not responding to emails. He's a nice guy and all, but he still hasn't replied to one of my friend's resignation letters from forever ago. :lol

Thanks for your other advice though. :)
 
Feb 17, 2006
12,579
1
0
#26
oneHeero said:
REALLY? You made it seem like it was a real job in real life for you, as in paying rent/car/ins/phone/food/bills to survive. Wow :lol
that's what i thought.

yeah just saw that. How is it at all relevant?
I think it's to do with how you're fretting over not getting much writing work when you're sixteen, homeschooled, live with yopur parents, and have no financial obligations to speak of. I mean, jeez, just compare that to the plight of all those out of work Gamespot, GFW and soon EGM writers.
 
Nov 9, 2004
271
0
0
#35
seriously, kid...be lucky that you've gotten this far with your hobby and enjoy life as a 16-year old.

You'll learn more valuable life skills from a part-time job at the mall food-court Sbarro, real talk.
 
Sep 11, 2006
3,655
0
0
#36
JSnake said:
Yeah, I'm complaining about no work, so what? I enjoy what I do and it's important to me. C'mon man, seriously.
Well, I wouldn't hire you. Even if you were a good writer, which you may well be.

Put it this way, in your opening post above, we find out about:

- Your dad
- Your step-mom
- A former boss

These people seem to represent your hope for more work. You don't mention your writing, what you're interested in, what you are hoping to achieve as a writer (except for more). Instead, these three people seem to have to put in good words for you, pull strings in order for you to get work.

You also publically, on one of the internet's biggest gaming forums, bitch about one of your employers (Siliconera). If he doesn't respond to your emails, that is between you and him unless he owes you money. (For example, Gamespot Australia owe me money, for reviews I did which they never paid me for.)

None of this is a problem, and you seem like a nice kid, but if you mentioned anything about any of these elements in an email - that parents pull strings for you, or that you get surly when not replied to - I would hit 'delete', honestly, as an editor. You have to present as reliable, easy-going, resourceful, indepedent and above all, fast.
 
Mar 22, 2007
24
0
0
#38
I've been in journalism both professionally and non-professionally for a while now. It's not easy getting a break since there are so many trying to get through into this market. One way of making your way is by going from strength to strength and not being afraid to try new things.

For instance, I started writing anime reviews for this teenage magazine. Once I was asked to cover some games and soon I was taking on both of those sections. When I went to University, I was section editor for games. This year, I've jumpstarted a proper gaming magazine that gets released per term/semester. At the same time, I'm trying to branch out into news and other media. During this time, my attempts at fiction turned out nicely as I was able to take part in a book compilation.

What this helps create, in a way, is a portfolio of material that I can show. And by not just one type of writing but a variety.

So basically, start doing other stuff. If you say your dad works in the UN or worked previously at Newsweek, trying doing something for them. Having your work in printed form far supersedes seeing it online where it can easily be lost in vast reaches of the Internet.

Also, reiterating what everyone's said: rely on your own strengths and don't worry if people say 'no'. That's how the world works. I wanted to expand the gaming section on my teenage magazine and created a bunch of material which got rejected because they couldn't justify using it because of severe space restrictions. A year later, I applied those ideas and we came out with our own magazine. So seriously, just keep trying.
 
Apr 6, 2007
8,223
0
0
#39
JSnake said:
It's a job if you get paid right?
Sure, but as someone who aims to make a living by the written word, surely you're aware that "in-between jobs" implies that you've lost your meal ticket - not that your hobby has hit a bit of a lull.
 
Dec 7, 2008
656
0
0
#40
No_Style said:
Start a blog like the rest of the world.
This. If you truly are doing it because you respect the process and find it fun, create an account on blogspot. If you want complete control over the whole viewing experience, just start your own site. Selling one freelance article would probably pay a year's domain and hosting fees.

I'll admit, I did enter this thread expecting to find a recent layoff victim lamenting the state of the economy.
 

Fantastical

Death Prophet
May 3, 2008
20,549
0
0
USA
#44
Salmonax said:
Sure, but as someone who aims to make a living by the written word, surely you're aware that "in-between jobs" implies that you've lost your meal ticket - not that your hobby has hit a bit of a lull.
This is the main problem with the thread. I'm 16, and I would never say I'm "in between jobs".
 
Jun 26, 2004
6,468
0
0
www.blowthecartridge.com
#45
Yeah this is pretty much the #1 reason I got out of games journalism. You're always having to hustle for work and when you're not doing that you're having to hassle people to get paid. Bleh. Overall I took a huge pay cut when changing careers but it was worth it to have a regular reliable paycheck :)

Anyway - here is some advice from someone who did the 'professional' games 'journalism' thing for around 8 or 9 years:

1) You are entirely expendable. That isn't advice, but it's something you need to understand quickly. You provide opinions about luxury items that are valued subjectively. Everyone has opinions and game reviews are getting less and less important as the games industry gets more and more casual.

2) Nobody is ever going to go up and offer you work. NOBODY OWES YOU A JOB IN THE GAMES INDUSTRY. You need to get out there and fight for jobs along with everyone else. This means networking, this means hassling editors, this means writing for free for places and using that as a springboard for the next job. Do you have a public showcase for your work? Are you a member of the gamespress forums? Do you keep in contact with previous editors or fellow writers? Get your name out there as much as possible. Start your own site if you have to just to have a regular place for you to 'work'.

3) Never miss a deadline. Always write quality work. Remember you are being hired by editors to do a piece - they need that piece on time, on spec, and with good quality. If you let your editor down on any of those points they will be less likely to hire you again.

4) Network. Places like GAF are a good place to interact with other pro / amateur / wanna-be games journos, but you need to be proactive in your approach with editors. Submit to everywhere. Look at the house style for different websites and change your approach. Be imaginative and different. There's a million games journalists out there doing the exact same formal IGN clone approach. Be different and get noticed. Use humour, use a specialist insight to a niche topic, use your personality.

5) Never miss a deadline. I'm serious about this one so it bears repeating. I don't care that you've been really busy with the girlfriend or your cat's sick or you've had "writer's block". There is a deadline. You hit that deadline.

6) Stop reading game reviews. Read books. Read plays. Read your mother's cooking book - anything but game reviews. You need to flavour your writing with other styles.

Ugh, I didn't mean to type this much...I could write a book about this.

(Edit) PS: Name dropping gets you nowhere real fast.
 
Jan 23, 2007
4,209
0
0
Virginia
twitter.com
#46
Wolves Evolve said:
Well, I wouldn't hire you. Even if you were a good writer, which you may well be.

Put it this way, in your opening post above, we find out about:

- Your dad
- Your step-mom
- A former boss

These people seem to represent your hope for more work. You don't mention your writing, what you're interested in, what you are hoping to achieve as a writer (except for more). Instead, these three people seem to have to put in good words for you, pull strings in order for you to get work.

You also publically, on one of the internet's biggest gaming forums, bitch about one of your employers (Siliconera). If he doesn't respond to your emails, that is between you and him unless he owes you money. (For example, Gamespot Australia owe me money, for reviews I did which they never paid me for.)

None of this is a problem, and you seem like a nice kid, but if you mentioned anything about any of these elements in an email - that parents pull strings for you, or that you get surly when not replied to - I would hit 'delete', honestly, as an editor. You have to present as reliable, easy-going, resourceful, indepedent and above all, fast.
The OP was never intended to be a job app or even read like one. I would never mention my dad or anyone else in an email, that's just common sense. To be honest, I didn't mention my writing or anything else you talked about because that would seem out of place when posing a simple question on a forum. If this WAS a job app, of course I'd put all that in. It just seemed unnecessary to do that.
 

jay

Member
Oct 25, 2006
9,198
0
0
#47
Can you be in between jobs when you're 16? This means I was unemployed for nearly two decades. My god I'm a failure.
 
May 8, 2006
1,827
0
0
#48
JSnake said:
It's a job if you get paid right? I mean, other kids my age do stuff like baby-sitting, mail routes, and they call those jobs and no one tells them otherwise.
Sure, but you're implying you were actually employed in a real sense of the word. With these harsh economic times your post feels just a tad egocentric.

EDIT:
And considering the tag, gaf agrees.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.