(The following is an excerpt from the e-book Getting Started in Freelance Video Game Journalism)
The number one misconception about video game journalists is that we bathe in free games sunup to sundown. Copies of all the latest blockbusters are stacked in the corners of our home offices because, hey, we’re game writers. Gotta have games to write about!
While it’s true that getting free games does happen in game journalism, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Putting the sometimes questionable ethics of the “freebies practice” aside, it’s not like publishers are lining up to hand out games to every writer on the ‘net. More often than not, press copies are only obtained by direct e-mails with publishing companies. Begging, in other words. Even then it’s not like you get to take your free game and run.
Games to a journalist represent one thing: work. Yes, you get to play them, but you’re not paid to play, you’re paid to write. When you end up with a freebie you’re obligated to do something with it, namely playing it through and writing a review. That’s fine when it’s a game you enjoy, but you don’t always get to pick the games you write about. Think a cheesy Wheel of Fortune game will never be on your assignment list? You just wait. You… just… wait!
Turning gaming into a job carries the threat of making you hate games as a whole. Who wants to play a new Mario game when you’ll have to write a review when you’re done? Your brain will stay busy making notes about the gameplay or mentally evaluating the graphics, not giggling each time Mario squeals as he slides down the flagpole. You’re not guaranteed to learn to loathe games, but it’s a possibility. Turning your passion into a career always carries that risk.
Like what you see? There’s plenty more in the complete e-book. Check it out!