Five Critical Points To Video Game Journalism
Being a part of the GameSkinny internship for almost four months now, I figured it'd be good to take a step back and decide whether I can take what I've learned and turn it into a career. I set about to look at what it would take to be a great video game journalist and this is what I came up with.
- A knowledge of video games in general.
- Getting the facts and making accurate representation.
- Basic writing skills.
- Accept constructive criticism and the willingness to improve.
- Hard work and effort.
Video Game Knowledge
To really talk about video games, you need to understand them. You don't have to go play every video game you want to talk about, but at least playing a few here and there makes the job easier. For example if two people write about the same game, one being a gamer and the other isn't, the gamer will likely have a better grasp on the game as a whole even if they have no interest in the game. So just play a few games and find some you like, it will set you up on a path to talk about games more confidently.
Getting the Facts
Journalism is all about researching information and pushing out the most accurate details you can find. If you are just writing whatever you like, and not backing it up with fact, you aren't a journalist. It's really easy to get lost in information overload, so make sure you check your sources or just go to the official sources from the start. If you do happen to find that your source was bad after you publish an article, make sure you correct your error either by editing it on the site or stating it was wrong. Remember, opinions are good as long as there are substantial facts to support the opinions.
Basic Writing Skills
When writing about anything that you want people to read, you're going to want at least basic writing skills. This is the part I struggle with most myself. Grammar and spelling are big in writing. Nobody will want to read an article written at the proficiency of a fifth grader, so try to polish your articles off before publishing them. It always helps if you have a second person glance over the article once you're finished as well to catch the things you miss.
Accepting Constructive Criticism and a Willingness to Improve
This is a big factor in video game journalism. If you're a columnist for a site or a magazine, you're going to have editors who will review your content before they push it through. If they dislike the content of the article, they will tell you what they dislike and how you should improve upon the content. If you can't accept this feedback as it was intended, a way to help you improve, then this is not the right career path for you.
This goes hand in hand with the constructive criticism--however, the willingness to improve goes above and beyond just accepting feedback. If you really want to improve, you'll look up ways to polish your writing skills, or ask for advice on something you're struggling with. Showing that you actually care about the tasks you're given will catch the eye of those above you, and they will be more willing to work with you when you need something. Just remember a little initiative goes a long way.
Hard Work and Dedication
Video game journalism is a lot of work. Long hours of planning topics, writing them, polishing them, and then promoting them is really daunting. Unless you find that one thing that really pulls in the readers, it will always be an uphill battle. If you're not prepared for this then the road forward will not be an easy one. You really have to give this field your all in order to be successful, which means you may have to sacrifice a lot of your free time. I can't even begin to count the number of times I had to turn down invites to games in order to meet deadlines.
These are the things I find most important when it comes to being a video game journalist. If you agree or disagree with any of the points I've stated above let me know in the comments below.