Gameskinny Internship: A perspective

Alternate title: Jesus Christ how many page views?

Oh boy… here we go.

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So, for those of you who frequent the GameSkinny boards (really super sorry for the Xbox article) you are probably noticing the influx of ‘MY LIFE AS AN INTERN YAY’ posts up on the front page. A lot of people seemed to have either been rather calm and collected throughout their time here, or high in the clouds soaring along the world of gaming journalism, elated to be putting their word out there on their own.

Me? I’ll be honest with you, I still don’t know where I lie. Maybe if I try to trace things back from the beginning I’ll understand where I am a little better.

I applied to the beta phase of their internship with my head full of hope. I have never been a good enough writer to get things on paper, so I figured ‘hey, if I get to writing something down for once instead of just wishing I could, maybe I’ll get better’. I even got super lucky when Katy, the queen of interns, gave me my preferred position as a writer (really glad I didn’t get post promoter or Team leader, by the way).

However, after joining team Delta, a few problems started to show – first of all, we were all in very different timezones. Our team leader was West coast US, the editor and I were in the UK, our other writer was all the way in Australia, and, since I don’t think I managed to be online the same time as our promoter, I suspect he existed on the Doctor’s TARDIS bouncing through time and space.

Fortunately, Katy, being the queen that she was, gave us an extra bonus: 48 hour deadlines on posting time. This definitely worked for me in more ways than one because when you’re juggling two jobs and trying to get back into university to study something new, you could do with the longer times.

My other issue was that everyone was required to write an article, not just the writers. Had I been told I was churning out three articles a day, I would have balked, but had to soldier on. If I quit because of it, then I wasn’t good enough. I just didn’t see why the others had to do it too, and made my point (quite harshly I might add) to Katy–which she addressed the problem, sorted out my issues, made sure I was clear, then utterly shut me the hell down like the queen boss that she was. Seriously, you should have seen it. I saved screen shots for later in life. I deserved it though, so no biggie.

Now, when I started, I sort of hoped I would get more feedback from my posts, such as how my writing style could be improved, what I should focus on, how verbose I could go for, but for the most part, the beta phase seemed more focused on page views than content. But this is something all the interns had come to understand, so we went with it. Hell, team Omegacron absolutely kills with close to 2000 views on their articles a week.

The first few weeks were tough – as I suspected, it took awhile to get into the phases. Late work times would mean I would miss the office hours of the staff, and get my articles out the next morning. Cool if it was a weekday, but terrible if you didn’t get it in before Saturday night, because it just sits in the Lobby till Monday.

Also, something I noticed at the start of the phase, woe to you who gets your post in before the other interns do a big article dump around 1600 GMT, because it is about to get buried for all eternity.

Alright, enough of the bad for a while, time for for the good.

The posting page is excellently done. Super easy to add images, quotes, captions, media, the works. It gives you a place to put your source, tags for adding things people would be searching for, a place to check your traffic, an easy to use ‘linking’ system, editor feedback that is separate from the comment area, the works!

It does have a few things that could be tweaked though – the adverts inside the article that show up when you post them could be moved to the sides, as some ad-blockers remove them and leave a giant empty space next to your article. Also it means it won’t be a massive consideration when you try and put pictures inside of your article.

There is an issue that comes from copy/pasting a document from Google Drive into it, but it’s solved by using their ‘paste from word’ button. There is also an issue that there isn’t a group ‘lobby’ where you can send your articles and your team’s editor can edit it better.

As the weeks went on, my team started to fall apart. Our team leader, Captain Rob, has always been keeping up with us, encouraging us, trying to get more out of us. He would write articles if there were people slowing down (myself included), he would get information to us from Katy as soon as he got it, and despite the massive time zone difference, managed to keep the team together for as long as he could.

I blame myself for a number of reasons as to why we went downhill, but the big thing for me was article coverage. If I had time, I would do just one, write it to the best of my ability, and leave it at that. I cannot say I am as good as the others for churning out news, reviews, or tips. My writing always deteriorated if I didn’t know enough about the subject that I was writing about, and it showed very clearly.

More problems developed – work went into double time and I lost a lot of my posting chances. Articles we were assigned to as breaking news would be well and truly old by the time I saw the notice, wrote it out, and got it out of the lobby. Things we were sent to review had been covered by better writers than me (some of them being people here at the Gameskinny page). I still have nightmares about trying to review Star Command having played the game for a total of five minutes.

We lost one of our writers to the ether, and our editor left us after being disgruntled with his writing style after Katy had told him he needed to change it so it was more readable (actually, I will take back my statement from before – in this instance Katy did give us structured feedback).

It probably didn’t help that our page views were always the lowest of the low (God damn you team Omegacron).

This week, being the last week, Katy dropped us a bombshell – that if we did not get our page views up to 1500 we were not allowed in the bastion phase because we could not commit. This hit me rather hard, not because I felt like I had let my team down (my page views are probably the lowest of the interns by miles), but because Captain Rob was dying to get into the Bastion Phase himself, and from his Skype calls I could already feel his disappointment.

I did my best – I posted a few articles, and focused on getting the word out. Posted up everywhere I could find. It wasn’t good enough. As I check my stuff, I barely have 300 views with everything combined.. I don’t know how many the others have, but if it’s anything like mine, we’re not going to make it.

So I will not be in the bastion phase, and neither will my team. We will probably get replaced with some new hopefuls who are looking for a chance to shine (who will also probably be better at this than I am).

So here we are, back at the question. How do I feel about the internship, and how much did it change me?

The truth is, some part of me (that I fiercely deny by the way), enjoyed the hell out of it.

Yes it sometimes felt like, as my editor put it, ‘corporate’. Yes it didn’t get me as much help with my article writing as I would have hoped. Yes the only real aid I ended up using from the advice Katy gave was to read a rather interesting book and make my posts more personal. And yes, for a very long time instructions as to what they expected from was wasn’t even remotely clear. But it was exciting to be putting words on paper, displaying them for the world to see.

I like working to deadlines (I don’t like missing them though). I enjoyed the banter my team had when we got on (well, when me my editor and team leader got on. I am beginning to suspect the other two did not exist).

The premise of Gameskinny is, to me, a place to provide people who just want to write about games and show their opinion to the world. And they have that in the bag. They need a giant influx of people willing to want to post on their webpage (which they get with the interns working their asses off for page views). They may also need to put some kind of writing clause in so people don’t post really defamatory comments about EA, but that’s up to them. Hell, maybe even remove the option for people to have to log in to post a comment if you really want more views. It will boost your views something amazing.

It’s been a weird month, but you know what? It’s been an experience. I may never get another chance to do an internship like this again, so thank you Gameskinny for the opportunity.

Keep in touch.

Apologies to my team leader, Captain Rob. I am sorry I wasn’t good enough to get you in. If I could sacrifice myself to the Gameskinny Gods to get you in the next phase, I would. I know you loved doing this, and I know you gave it your best. I’m sorry I let you down man.


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Author
Image of Lloyd Gyan
Lloyd Gyan
Just your average, fairly kooky man trying to take a different perspective when it comes to video games. And hoping to bring you along for the ride. Like, or disagree with something that I wrote? Just pop down a comment saying so!