The Dark Side of Video Games
Will Fairway / Oct 17th, 2002 No Comments
In the last few weeks, I have had many people approach me asking how they can get into the gaming journalism field. Some of these people, I do not know personally, because I have only talked to them through email. Others, I know personally as either personal friends, or as simple acquaintances. One thing I have noticed about all of these young hopefuls though, is that they have many disillusions about the video game writing field. Well, I hate to burst people’s bubble, but this issue simply needs to be addressed.
One large falsehood that almost all of these young protégés share, is that the video game writing field is all wine and roses. That the only thing you have to do is play the games they send you, and write a half-arsed article when you feel like you’ve had enough of the game.
You should see how loud every game writer in the world is laughing right now.
In reality, game writing is anything but glamorous. Sure, it is pretty cool that you get free games, but in order to get noticed in this field you have to do a lot more than just reviews. In my case, I do these editorials weekly aside from doing regular previews and reviews for three other sites. Now don’t get me wrong, I love writing these articles and having my voice be heard by you loyal readers, but it can get quite strenuous.
As I write this, every bone in my body is sore. I have just come back from a football game, and thanks to a rather brutal opposing team, I have dozens upon dozens of cuts and bruises along my skin and body. Aside from that, I am somewhat cloudy from having my bell rung a few times during the football game. All I really want to do right now is take some aspirin, snuggle up in my bed, and go to asleep. Instead, I am here writing this commentary, because I promised a month or so ago to write one of these a week, and that is a promise I am trying to keep.
Do these incidences happen often in the video game journalism field? Yes, they most certainly do. I myself have had numerous incidences where things like homework and organized sports have clashed with my writing time. Even better, are the numerous social events that I have missed, not because I didn’t have the money, not because I didn’t want to attend, but because of a lack of time.
In the long run though, a few missed concerts, movies, and bike rides won’t amount to much. It’s the actual game writing that takes it’s toll on you. Sure, reviewing one game a week may not sound that hard, but when you consider that the average game takes 20+ hours to complete, and that a normal review can take anywhere from 1-10 hours to complete, you have yourself a good 21-30 hours of work there.
I might also add that that’s 21-30 hours you’ll likely only get paid twenty bucks for, that is IF you sell the game back to some retail chain. That $20.00 isn’t always for a certain either. I can remember one specific instance that I brought in a game called Pryzm: Chapter One: The Dark Unicorn, only to find out that the game was only worth $4.00 in trade-in. Needless to say, the Game Crazy guys still get a kick out of the fact that I worked at 20 cents per hour for roughly 20 hours.
Don’t think for a second though that the gaming journalism industry doesn’t have its perks. For one, YOU ARE GETTING PAID, TO GAME. Yes, reread that young hopeful, and recite that every time you are neck-deep in a crappy game you have to review. But the truth is, you are getting paid, however little, to do something you normally would do in the afternoon anyway. You’re writing skills begin to develop in ways that an English class can never teach you. You learn how to transition, make your writing more powerful, make your writing more entertaining, and above all, just how to have fun with a writing assignment. Despite how badly games are looked down upon, a dive into the realm of video game journalism looks great on a résumé, be it for a college or employment.
Possibly the greatest thing about this job though, is being able to brag about getting free games to your friends. Take it from a gaming teenager, every gamer you mention that too will regard in a higher degree than many other gamers. I also love the fact how I’ve prevented people from buying bad games, and have encouraged people to buy better ones, be it through the written or spoken word.
So young hopeful, heed thy warning signs, and traverse into this territory only if motivated for the right reasons. (In English; If you’re going to take a swing at gaming journalism, make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons.)
Anyways, I bid you all farewell, as I have a warm bed that requires my immediate attention. Out.