So you want to be a games journalist, eh?
The first thing you have to do is to write a guide on how to be a games journalist. Because if you’ve written a guide on it, you must be one! Write your guide with the help of these five easy steps!
1) The first part of your guide has to be blatantly obvious! Make sure you ask your reader to check if they
a) Like games and know about them
b) Know how to write words in order, so they make sentences (like this one!)
Because you’d be gob-smacked to find out just how many illiterate people with a passion and knowledge about deep sea fishing, or crochet or something, end up being games journalists because they’d never read a guide on being a games journalist and just fell into the job!
You may also want to explain what a games journalist is, because people who want to be one often have no idea what it even is! (This is how they trick people into being sewage technicians.)
You could go into a bit of a discussion as to how “games journalists” could in many cases be called “games critics” (at least in North American vernacular) because they usually just sit around playing games before then saying what they think about them, rather than, you know, running out and doing hard news coverage, but frankly we all rather like the prestige of a job title that includes the word “journalist”, even though we all know the word “game” in front ruins it.
2) Once you’ve got all that pesky explanation out of the way, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty of telling people how to “be” Goro (a games journalist!) To do this, just make up any old rubbish off the top of your head!
The most important thing is the format. You can make this bit a FAQ, like this:
“Q: Do I need a degree?
A: Yes! Having a degree (particularly in journalism!) will mean you are a full three weeks ahead of anyone else starting work at a magazine! You’ll also probably know how to do shorthand, which looks impressive!
But better than that, you’ll already be thousands of pounds in debt! This is a way you must become used to living, because even with a degree you’ll be paid peanuts!”
Or you can make it a loosely connected step-by-step plan for becoming a games journalist:
“1. Beat Ninja Gaiden with your eyes closed and broken thumbs (get an adult to help you with this bit)
2. Read some books and learn what a semicolon does (protip: it semi-poos!)
3. Get a job as a games journalist! To do this bit, apply for jobs, dress nice for the interview and don’t be a repulsive idiot! It may surprise you, you see, but just because you want to be a games journalist doesn’t mean that you should be one! The likelihood is that you’re a disgusting little internet troll who thinks that being able to beat Ninja Gaiden and knowing what a semicolon does means you’re cut out to be a writer. No. The horror the interviewers are likely to feel should be a sign that you should go back to crying and wanking (please wait until you’ve got home first, though.)”
If you can’t be bothered to structure your piece, just throw down the facts in any old order! But make sure you use headings! (This is how you break up your article so people know what they’re reading about before they even read it! But you already knew that, because we got rid of all the illiterates in step one!)
Becoming a games journalist is as simple as applying for a job if you want to work for a games magazine/website on-site. Being a freelancer is harder and probably would be the type of thing that really needs a specific guide if, you know, there weren’t like a million guides to freelance journalism already. But here’s one anyway!
Email is your best friend. Email publications to ask them if they want your writing. Email PR to ask them if they can send you games. If you can’t write a polite e-mail you can’t write. Stop trying to be a games journalist.
Write as many articles and reviews as you can for free for the shortest possible amount of time. And not on your blog. If you aren’t good enough to write for a website that won’t even pay you, you can’t write. Stop trying to be a games journalist.
Free games do not count as payment. Money does.
Learn how to live below the poverty line, as you’re ‘winning’ if you’re being paid at all and can live on the money you make, even if you’re eating only three meals a week. Maybe have a three year plan and if you don’t start to live comfortably by then, give up. [Editor’s note: The author is a year and a half in and is still sick of cup ramen.]”
3) So now you’ve written most of your guide! You should now write a conclusion. This is the bit of an article that ends it by summing everything up, and in a guide on how to be a games journalist, you don’t really even need to bother doing that! Just write some self congratulatory nonsense to lead up to your short bio (“biography”!) at the bottom, because, as you’re writing a guide on how to be a successful games journalist, no one reading it will have heard of you, so they’ll need to find out all about you and your illustrious career from it!
4) Some things you should never mention include:
“New” games journalism! Because describing games as experiences rather than checklists of graphics, “gameplay” and sound is a stupid load of old bollocks!
Needing a reason to be a games journalist! It’s just a job people do after reading about doing it from a guide or something, not a calling! It’s not like I’m basically starving here because the only thing I want to do is write about games but no one pays a living wage!
Any other sorts of journalism! People are only one type of journalist! Games journalism isn’t basically exactly the same as most consumer journalism, and the skills are totally not transferable!
That people shouldn’t become games journalists, because it’ll take away work from you (as you’re a struggling games journalist) and instead they should go back to being illiterate deep sea fishermen! Because that wouldn’t be nice!
5) You’re now a successful games journalist! Congratulations!
Still to come, Part Two: Eating shoes! Old timey folks like Laurel and Hardy were always eating their shoes when starving to death; is this a viable solution for struggling freelance journalists? We get the lowdown on the tastiest heels!
This is a piece written for a Kieron Gillen/Tim Edwards conceived “thing” in which as many games journalists as they could think of all wrote a “So You Want to Be a Games Journalist” piece (en large, to respond to this piece written by Aaron McKenna for CMP’s Game Career Guide Website.) Here are the others: