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July 3, 2014

Game Journalist FAQ: Just the Basics

Always wanted to write about video games but had no clue how to start? Get practical advice on being a video game journalist along with answers to some of the most frequently asked game journalism questions. Then head back to the main page and start searching for game reviewing jobs! Woo!

How do I get started in video game journalism?
Getting started is easy, but turning it into a career is difficult. Thanks to the internet, anyone can fire up a blog and start writing. Only the dedicated writers will survive, though, and it takes a lot of work to move beyond “blogger” to actual paid writer. The trick is to just start writing. Create a blog, update it at least three times a week, and keep at it for several months. Over time you’ll develop your own writing style and voice and can use that to leverage writing gigs that will eventually turn into paid jobs.

Do I need a journalism degree?
Nope. Sticking the tag “journalism” after the words “video game” is a very loose practice. We aren’t journalists in the traditional sense (some less so than others), but there are a lot of journalism-like aspects of our job. You won’t need a journalism degree to start your career or even land a day job writing for a magazine. It doesn’t hurt, however, and proves to prospective employers that you’re committed. The main thing editors want to see is that you’re reliable and can actually string together a sentence or two. Published clips and a personal blog prove that and often speak louder than a journalism or a writing degree. If you’re interested in pursuing the degree outside of game writing, go for it. But don’t force it on yourself.

How do I find video game writing gigs?
Well, Video Game Journalism Jobs is a good start! Many high traffic sites post writing job openings on their own site, so if there’s a publication you’d love to work for, keep an eye out for the “we’re hiring game writers!” post.

Do I have to start as a freelancer?
Not really, but you’d have a heck of a time starting out in this field if you didn’t. Most game journalism jobs these days are freelance, and the market is much wider when you can cast your net across the globe. There are only a few print publications that can hire you 9-5, so being self-employed and finding your own gigs is easier, faster, and better.

What are my chances of landing a great job?
That depends on how dedicated you are. You won’t retire rich any time soon, and since freelance writing is a difficult career path, you’ll put in a lot of work for every bit of cash you earn. Once you get established, your chances of getting a good video game writing job are better. Just stick with it, keep writing, keep sending out query letters, and soon you’ll catch a big one.

Do I have to live in California/New York/London?
Nope. Most major gaming news/reviews sites are online, and since print magazines are rapidly dying out, your best bet to land a writing job is online. While it can help to be in major areas like those listed above (attending expos, being near major game studios), it’s certainly not a requirement.

Should I be a video game journalist?
The first question you should really ask yourself is this: do I love writing more than I love gaming? If so, that’s a good start. If not, or if you like the idea of free games or think you’ll get to sit around playing Xbox One all day, you’re on the wrong site. Being a game journalist is work, and when playing a video game turns into a job, you’ll find it’s just as annoying as any career out there. There are deadlines, bad games you’ll have to play, demanding editors, unforgiving trolls, and so on, making the whole “I get to play games for a living” the very last thing on the “my job is cool because” list. With that said, though, if you enjoy writing and have a love of gaming, you’ll definitely love being a game journalist.

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