Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Fighting and journalism


I should have a link soon for another kooky idea I've been hatching. More later.

I’ve expressed my Tekken love before, but the impending release of part five next Friday has been getting me even more worked up than usual. I knew Tekken 1 would be hidden in the game as a bonus, but news just broke that 2 and 3 are also included albeit the arcade versions with none of the home port extras like Tekken bowl. I’m still not sure if this means these are “exact” arcade ports or just the arcade mode portion from the PlayStation games. Yeah, yeah, the arcade hardware that 1 – 3 ran on was basically the same as a PlayStation, but they did have more RAM to work with so there are some visual elements (however minor) that will be different if they are exact arcade ports. I did end up pre-ordering the game because they are offering a free art book with it if you do. Now, it’s not like I REALLY want the art book, but I’m picking up the game day one so I might as well sign up for the freebie.

Much like my moment of clarity in avoiding purchasing the Death by Degrees game, I also talked myself out of getting the Tekken 5 Limited edition with the Hori joystick and collector’s DVD case. The main reason being I already own one of the finest PlayStation joysticks ever made, the Namco arcade stick (pictured above). It has a heavy metal base, Japanese-style clicky stick, buttons raised just enough for prolonged comfort, and another metal case on top for extra support. It was sold in America as the Tekken 2 arcade stick and in Japan as a combo Soul Edge/Tekken stick. I actually won them from Namco in a Soul Edge/Blade tournament, but that is another story for another day. For the times when a stick is too cumbersome, the Nuby Street Fighter pads are among the best controllers of recent memory. They are basically just like the Saturn pads, but the body is a bit bulkier making them a little more comfortable to hold. With the mass discounting I’ve seen on these pads (something like $14.99, down from $29.99), there’s no reason you shouldn’t run out and get one. Of course you could just import these snazzy Saturn PS2 pads Sega just put out. $40 though, and that’s before tax and shipping, ouch.

Game journalism
There seems to always be some blog/forum chatter taking pot shots at pro game magazines and/or websites. Throwing around random and anonymous criticisms is a fixture of teh interweb. A recent entry on the TDMAKM blog and the subsequent talk back on the forums gives you an idea of the type of stuff being thrown around. There are valid points to be made on the subject to be sure, but I wanted to just focus on one for now; the perception of how one gets into the writing side of the industry. Someone on the thread claims that you have to know someone on the inside to have any shot at it. Is this true? I talked before about whether you would want to get in or not, but say you did. Who do you have to know? Here’s a quick rundown of what I can vouch for.

First, myself. I worked at a small, family run (not my family btw), non-corporate backed game shop. One day, the boss asked me to write a 1-page newsletter for the store listing new games and include a coupon. Well, I ran with it, produced a four-page deal complete with my drawings and short write-ups on the games. I liked doing it so much, I make a separate fanzine that was about 16 pages and sold it bi-weekly for $1 at the store and through local classifieds. Chris Gore, then Editor-in-Chief of Videogames magazine walked into the store and we struck up the usual customer/salesman conversation. After I handed him my fanzine and he paged through it, he told me who he was and that if he could keep the mag and get my phone number. I was pretty excited until I realized I totally trashed his magazine in the fanzine. Basically calling it the worst one out there and listing several reasons why. “Oh well, totally blew that chance” I thought. To my surprise, Chris called a week later and told me he agreed with many of my criticisms and wanted me to help make the mag better. I was working professionally (part time at first) another two weeks later. I went to work full time after college and so my tale began. No previous connections to anyone on the “inside”, unless you call working at a game store being on the inside.

Thinking back on everyone I’ve hired, the key element is that they had done work that proved they could do the job. The internet has made it so much easier, all it takes is someone setting up a web page or regularly contributing to a fan site to build up a body of work. Other than interns, there hasn’t been a case I’ve hired anyone cold, meaning no previous experience writing about games. The person either had done something similar on a personal web page or had done some pro work somewhere along the line. Does it give you an advantage if you know someone on the inside? It does guarantee your resume will get looked. Beyond that, it doesn’t get you that much more, at least in my experience. I can recall tons of times (thinking…thinking….I’d say about at least 50 that I can remember for sure) someone handed me the resume of “a friend”, but only once did it turn into an actual job. Posted by Hello

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