Why Would You Want to be a Video Game Journalist; PAX Panel

Some of the challenges overcome by the top of the industry.

At PAX East, we gathered in the Arachnid theater to listen to the challenges of the journalism industry from some of the insiders.

Panelists included: Justin McElroy with Polygon, Dale North with Destructoid, Kyle Orland with Ars Technica, Jason Schreier from Kotaku, Dennis Scimeca as freelance, and Alexander Sliwinski with Joystiq.

How Was Starting Out?

All writers admitted to being dazzled by the industry. Reviewing games before they were released and talking to developers and creators is an extremely exhilarating experience, especially for the newbies. So when reality struck and the trolls began commenting on their work and giving them flak, Sliwinski admitted that the criticism was unexpected.

E3 was a big moment for most of the panelists as the gleeful feeling of being around all these new games and fun toys fades into the feeling of having to try a game first simply because the readers want to know about it, or spending hours in a press room covering breaking news.

All of them hung strongly on the point that this is a business, and most of the time these fun events are work for them.

What is the Biggest Challenge?

The most challenging part of being a video game journalist is "easily the politics. Especially when a really nice carrot comes along, it's easy to fall into a trap."

Speed is another issue where writers want to baby their articles, but breaking news has to go out quickly and not every piece of content can be babied.

Playing bad games, of course, is an awful aspect. "90 minutes in and you're like, 'it's like this the whole time!'"

Fake stories, photoshops, and other false leads are also annoying and challenging, especially when time is spent chasing these leads that go nowhere.

Keeping up with the current news is another challenge. Feeling pressure to play every game and know everything about it is overwhelming.

Questions? Send them a tweet!

Former Staff Editor

whale biologist.

Published Apr. 26th 2013
  • Jamie K
    Featured Contributor
    Mat's comment reminds me of that hoax that happened recently, where an anonymous journalist created a "fake" gaming rumor dubbed "X-Surface". A guy claimed to be working for a company he was not and spammed a fake email to a bunch of well known gaming news sites to see if anyone would take the bait.

    It was an interesting event because there were literally some articles I read where it was pretty obvious the author only cut and pasted the whole thing and added a few choice words.

    On the other hand, there were other articles from smaller companies where it seemed like the hoax genuinely deceived their good intentions towards a valid article.

  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    Yes, yes, yes and yes. As I just start dipping my toe in the pond of video games journalism, it's both encouraging and depressing to know that I've been dealing with the same challenges; particularly the politics and the knowledge level.

    It seems the video games industry is very much about relationships and access to information, but good journalism is about standards and integrity too. I've found these are not always happy bedfellows.

    Pressure to build a depth of knowledge before writing is something I find eats into my time hugely. How much research and investment of time should be devoted to writing about a particular game? There's a degree of integrity at stake, but equally it's not effective use of time to spend an entire day researching a single topic for one news piece.

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