How Not to Get a Job as a Game Journalist

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How Not to Get a Job as a Game Journalist

Five easy ways to blow your first impression.

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As someone whose only experience in the "games writing" industry is scoring jobs almost entirely via a combination of luck and charm, I fully agree with everything Susan has said here, but would also like to add one final point:

Sleeping your way to the top -- Did you really think it was just a gross metaphor? Oh hell no. All I'll say is you attract more flies with an awesome handjob than you do with vinegar.

Earnest Cavalli:
As someone whose only experience in the "games writing" industry is scoring jobs almost entirely via a combination of luck and charm, I fully agree with everything Susan has said here, but would also like to add one final point:

Sleeping your way to the top -- Did you really think it was just a gross metaphor? Oh hell no. All I'll say is you attract more flies with an awesome handjob than you do with vinegar.

You disgust me.

Awesome article, I'm always nervous about sending potential employers writing samples because too many times I've been told not to include too many attachments. Honestly, I just need to get around to setting up a portfolio site for myself.

Yep, spellcheckers aren't everything.

Lvl 64 Klutz:
Awesome article, I'm always nervous about sending potential employers writing samples because too many times I've been told not to include too many attachments. Honestly, I just need to get around to setting up a portfolio site for myself.

If attaching samples, three is the maximum I'd advise. Portfolio sites are great, of course, but not everyone has enough material to justify one.

Even a link to your personal blog can suffice as a writing sample. I got a lot of early attention based on my blog at 1Up.

Earnest Cavalli:

Earnest Cavalli:
As someone whose only experience in the "games writing" industry is scoring jobs almost entirely via a combination of luck and charm, I fully agree with everything Susan has said here, but would also like to add one final point:

Sleeping your way to the top -- Did you really think it was just a gross metaphor? Oh hell no. All I'll say is you attract more flies with an awesome handjob than you do with vinegar.

You disgust me.

I'm glad I know you, Nex.

Just for the record.

On topic! There is nothing in this piece that is wrong in the least. Just because games journalism is a pretty awesome job doesn't mean you should treat it any less professionally trying to get hired.

Fantastic article! Every gamer should read this!

The internet is teeming with wannabe, -sorry-, want-to-be game journalists, and amazingly enough, most of them are still clueless. It's nice to see someone (i.e.- an actual game journalist) set some standards for the web to behold. I hope that this article can change a few things.

Also another tip: If the site you're applying to has community functions, building a presence there is one of the best ways to catch their attention.

Oh, and make soft copies of all your major pieces for any website you DO end up writing for. If it's not a huge site you never know when *fingers crossed* it might go belly up. Then all the reviews and features you've written go down with the servers.

Also, if you shift jobs, sometimes the application process requires an attached sample, rather than a blog link, so that would make it easier.

Thanks Susan,
I made a forum topic with this theme,
this was like getting a reply from a member of the dev team.

And that rhymed.

unangbangkay:
Also another tip: If the site you're applying to has community functions, building a presence there is one of the best ways to catch their attention.

Oh, and make soft copies of all your major pieces for any website you DO end up writing for. If it's not a huge site you never know when *fingers crossed* it might go belly up. Then all the reviews and features you've written go down with the servers.

Also, if you shift jobs, sometimes the application process requires an attached sample, rather than a blog link, so that would make it easier.

Sigh...testify. Five years of my work is gone because the site I wrote for no longer exists. I have some of it as Word docs, but not all of it.

Earnest Cavalli:

Earnest Cavalli:
As someone whose only experience in the "games writing" industry is scoring jobs almost entirely via a combination of luck and charm, I fully agree with everything Susan has said here, but would also like to add one final point:

Sleeping your way to the top -- Did you really think it was just a gross metaphor? Oh hell no. All I'll say is you attract more flies with an awesome handjob than you do with vinegar.

You disgust me.

DOUBLE POS- oh, it's just split personality disorder.

Great advice, most of it should be common sense but common sense is a rare commodity these days. But the #1 tip I took from that being a prospective writer myself is that emails to the editor are actually read, and not just trashed. Thanks Susan!

I don't know if this article was a good idea, Susan. Now every snot-nosed kid is going to look professional at a glance. It's going to take a lot longer to weed through the submissions now. You don't know how good you had it. ;-)

in other words, don't be an idiot and your halfway there.

Susan Arendt:
Mistake #3: Using profanity

As laid back and awesome a job as game journalism may be, it is still a job, and your application email should reflect that fact. You probably wouldn't use the word "motherfucking" in an email asking about a position as an accountant or math teacher, so you shouldn't be using it when asking about becoming a game reviewer, either. Before you protest about a certain fast-talking Englishman, there's a difference between your product and your personal communication - especially when you've yet to form a relationship with the person you're emailing.

DARN you addressed Yahtzee, I was about to find a counter-example!

Great list! I found it very informative

Now I'm sad, because I saw something I'd be interested in writing an article for (assuming I could actually focus that long), but the pitch deadline was back in August :(

It's cool that I get to see the way the articles come about though. It's a new insight for me.

A very good read. I'm in the same boat as Lvl 64 Klutz (metaphorically speaking obviously) as in I am nearly always too nervous to send off e-mails to people maybe looking to hire. I have sent letters out before, but they all came back saying basically the same thing : 'Sorry, we have no vacancies available at this time, although when a vacancy is available we will consider your application' I guess getting so many of these letters has dampened my spirits a bit, but you can only look foward and must not dwell on what has happened in the past.

Interesting. But what about people from other countries? I mean, no matter if I'm a mildly successful game journalist with tons of reviews if you can't read any of them, because they're in Hungarian. With that, there goes my credibility since I can't prove my worth or what I've done. Plus, English is not my mother language, so I'm at a certain disadvantage here. Sure, one can learn other languages, but my raging accent is obvious even from my writing, I guess.

Any tips?

This was a very informative article and I, for one, appreciate someone in the field taking the time to fill everyone in on the real situation in Gaming Journalism.

I enjoy writing myself. I used to write a short rant & review column for a gaming community I helped operate in the early 2000s. Much of the material involved Sega and the Dreamcast console but if kind of had to, we were a Phantasy Star Online-centric community. Eventually, I tried to cover whatever big MMORPG was hitting the scene soon after like Final Fantasy XI.

I suppose I tend to go off in a "Yahtzee" style in my material, though I was already sarcastic and unsympathetic in my humor before I discovered his work. Listening to him go only served to fuel my own ranting fire. That's not to say I could not sound professional and more classy in my wit, I just prefer to not beat around the bush. Brutal, uncensored honesty is such an enjoyable trait to have.

Playbahnosh:
Interesting. But what about people from other countries? I mean, no matter if I'm a mildly successful game journalist with tons of reviews if you can't read any of them, because they're in Hungarian. With that, there goes my credibility since I can't prove my worth or what I've done. Plus, English is not my mother language, so I'm at a certain disadvantage here. Sure, one can learn other languages, but my raging accent is obvious even from my writing, I guess.

Any tips?

First thing is to be up front about English not being your first language. While it may not give you a pass if you really garble your English, it'll likely get you off the hook for minor errors or inconsistencies. If most of your work is in something I can't read, then write a sample or two in English.

Anyone seriously wanting to pursue games journalism should read this and take it to heart.

Simply put, this is how I got hired.

Susan Arendt:

Playbahnosh:
Interesting. But what about people from other countries? I mean, no matter if I'm a mildly successful game journalist with tons of reviews if you can't read any of them, because they're in Hungarian. With that, there goes my credibility since I can't prove my worth or what I've done. Plus, English is not my mother language, so I'm at a certain disadvantage here. Sure, one can learn other languages, but my raging accent is obvious even from my writing, I guess.

Any tips?

First thing is to be up front about English not being your first language. While it may not give you a pass if you really garble your English, it'll likely get you off the hook for minor errors or inconsistencies. If most of your work is in something I can't read, then write a sample or two in English.

Thank you! Well, if anyone at The Escapist speaks Hungarian, I can supply a truckload of reviews, previews, guides and blog entries all the way back to ten years ago. I even wrote some game guides and walkthroughs in English for gamefaqs and other sites years ago, when my English was still horrible, but most of them are long gone though. I guess I'll write some reviews in English, see how that turns out. Maybe I'm the next big thing, maybe not :)

Susan Arendt:
Susan Arendt got her very first paid job as a game journalist because she was a fan of America's Next Top Model. True story.

Aroo? Please tell. Also, nice list.

I've thought about doing a small review of a free online game and posting it on here. Is this method another good way to get this kind of career? Also i like how you said to avoid using profanity, but you put RTFS in the article.

Earnest Cavalli:
All I'll say is you attract more flies with an awesome handjob than you do with vinegar.

*hilarious quip about "vinegar strokes"*

Susan Arendt got her very first paid job as a game journalist because she was a fan of America's Next Top Model. True story.

Care to explain hmm? :)

If I want to be a gaming journalist, buy a media print and sell yourself out to the fan crowd.

Of course the explanations that Miss Arendt pointed out are true. I would try out for gaming journalism but it would require a journalism major out of it. Plus, I suck at grammar.

Ok, a few things. No, you don't need a journalism major to do this job. I don't have one. (My degree is in English, with a minor in Education. I went to school to be an English teacher.)

Secondly, RTFS isn't profanity, I'm not soliciting any of you for a job, and this is my column, so I get to say whatever I like. Which includes the "goddamn" in the first paragraph. When you get your own column, you can swear, too. Until then, it's wise to stay on your best behavior.

As for the America's Next Top Model story...as I mentioned, I used to keep a blog on 1Up, and it attracted the attention of several members of the staff there, including Carrie Shepherd. She liked my writing and read my blog, but didn't get in touch with me personally until she discovered that I, like she, was a fan of ANTM. We chatted from time to time and kept in touch. (Still do, in fact.) She left Ziff and went to Next-Gen, where one year she was put in charge of the Show Daily, the publication that's handed out each day at E3. One of the writers who'd been commissioned to produce some content for the magazine bailed at the last minute, and she thought of me. That was my very first paid gig for writing about games.

Which actually leads to one of my all-time favorite stories about being a game journalist, but perhaps I should save that for another post. :)

Tharticus:

Of course the explanations that Miss Arendt pointed out are true. I would try out for gaming journalism but it would require a journalism major out of it. Plus, I suck at grammar.

At the risk of getting myself fired, I don't have a degree at all, so don't let feelings of being under-educated hold you back.

Oh, and you can learn good grammar if you really want to.

It's nice the Susan can give me hope where the CEO of the company just brings me down with his "We don't need you, stfu" article.

I'll take those messages to heart Miss Arendt, particularly the "sample of your work" part.. the rest was sort of "no duh", but I'm sure this article was required, as I'm sure your inbox probably makes you think you're in Resident Evil and every zombie has an "AWERSOME IDEA FOR SUMFINK THE SITE RELLY NEEDS LIEK SRSLY".

I'd probably turn a gun on myself if I were in your situation.

edit: interesting side note, you (susan) Joined the escapist on my birthday in 07... lemme think what I was doing that day... hrmm... I think that was the year my family didn't say nearly two words to me and unceremoniously handed me a copy of Lost Magazine and said "happy birthday" without turning off the TV.

that makes me a little sad actually, but 2008 and 2009 were much better.

Ive not applied to be a writer because my grammar occasionally fails.

But i love the article though, Very informative.

(9/10)

Please, please, PLEASE tell me that the little "illustration" on the second page wasn't an actual submission. Please. The miniscule amount of faith in humanity I have left depends on it.

Also, though the thought of writing in this sort of venue strikes me from time to time, I usually remember that I have far too many projects I'm not working on already.

paulgruberman:
Yep, spellcheckers aren't everything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OonDPGwAyfQ

Very insightful article, thank you very much.

Although my abilities to write anything coherent are still coming along, this is very useful to know as reviews are something I enjoy writing even if for only 5 people to see.

Oh my gosh! This is actually very useful. I want to have a job in this field, but I know that my grammar skills aren't as great as everyone else's. I also know that I can improve my grammar/writing skills by taking courses, which is something I'm doing.

Thank you very much for the article. It was informative and also answered my previous question on Twitter where I asked how I could get an awesome job like yours. Now I know... and knowing is half the battle. GI JOE!

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