Or to put it more accurately, would I recommend a career in videogames. I’ll get to the other areas of the industry in a bit, but let’s focus on writing about them first. After a chat with Dom, he wrote some thoughts about where he stands on joining the ranks of videogame journalism full time. As he can attest, it can be a fairly tough nut to crack; after all, there are only so many professional magazines and web sites out there. And even if you make it, only a small percentage have a chance at running the show and make decent money. As Dom mentioned, the best he might hope for is a senior editor gig. In almost any other category where crafting words is your bread and butter, a senior editor position is gold. It takes years, perhaps decades before someone ascends to that rank or something equivalent. The difference between other industries and covering the games beat is that the latter is perceived as less valuable. Any kid with a love of games and high school degree could hack it right? Granted there have been “kids” like that running around in the early days, but the majority of editors I know are highly educated folks. The perception is still there and unfortunately the pay scale remains south of the norm. Don’t get things confused though, being a writer in any industry is no ticket to big bucks (unless you’re the writer of Desperate Housewives or are married to one of them). Is it any wonder that three friends, who I think are among the top writers in games, are no longer writing about games? It’s a damn shame.
So, is it still worth trying to write about games? Conditionally, the answer is yes. No matter how much you may think you love games, you have to really love them to play and write about them all the time. It can easily burn you out. Whenever a cherished hobby becomes your job, that’s always a danger. Of course just loving games isn’t enough. You have to write well, be able to function in an office environment, and manage your time wisely. Basically, every requisite of working in a professional capacity applies. You really do need a certain determination to do this job for the long haul. Writing about games in my original fanzine was something I just NEEDED to do and luckily it got me “discovered” allowing me to go pro.
As for what I’ll do next, many have advised me to go into other areas like public relations or game development. There’s more growth there, a tad more security, and certainly a whole lot more money they say. Game development is very exciting, but also very scary. With all the consolidation going down in the industry, I doubt there’s more security in one place over another no matter what you do. Well, I’m leaving the options as open as possible until shrinking finances force my hand. I have high hopes that the future of game journalism is bright. New forms of coverage will not only emerge, but also actually be successful. The internet changed the landscape just a few years ago, but there are still many different ways to cover games in this medium. Maybe I’m too much of an optimist?