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Mail Bag: Getting Into Gaming Journalism

If you've read Game Informer magazine, odds are good that you've seen the Dear GI section, where we respond to reader letters with varying degrees of information and sass. What you don't know, however, is that every email that gets sent to Dear GI lands directly in my inbox. There is no way that we could possibly respond to every letter in the magazine, but I'll make an effort to answer some of the questions that don't make the cut right here on my blog.

I figured the best place to start is with a question that we get several times each day:

Hello there my name is Daniel H. and i just subscribed to gameinfomer and i have to say its awesome. I was wandering if i could ask you a little bit about your jobs if you dont mind me taking a little of your time? Im a huge videogame fan and have been since I was old enough to hold the controller and in my opinion you guys are living the dream. So i just wanted to ask how exactly you got into your type of work?

 

Every person on staff has a different answer to this question. That's because there isn't a formalized, guaranteed path that lands you a job as a video game journalist. There is no sure thing; we all come from different backgrounds with different kinds of training. I can only speak to my own experience...I'll leave the other editors to tell their stories if they want to.

I think the most common misconception is that all you need is a love for video games. While that is certainly a prerequisite, it isn't enough. Gaming is growing as a form of entertainment, with millions of gamers out there already and more joining the ranks every day. With that much enthusiasm surrounding the hobby, it isn't difficult to find people who enjoy video games. If you want to write video game reviews, you must be able to clearly articulate your thoughts and feelings about games in writing.

Here's how it all came together for me. I graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in English. While most of my academic pursuits were focused on reading and writing, I spent an equivalent amount of effort playing games in my free time. Gaming was my favorite hobby, but I never thought that I could make a career out of it.

I was planning on being an English teacher; I was even licensed to teach in MN for a few years. Even though I was excited about that, I had a secret dream job that I hardly mentioned to anyone: I wanted to write about video games. I remember being jealous of Dan Birlew specifically, because he got to write the official strategy guides for Final Fantasy games. Of course, I also wanted to be in the shoes of the GI staff, but that seemed like a dream as distant as playing professional sports is for many college students.

I had a love of games, as well as training in writing. What I didn't have was an opportunity. This is where things get complicated; even if you have the qualifications to be a game journalist, you still need to be in the right place at the right time in order to have a shot. In my case, I found out about a job opening at Game Informer through the friend of a friend. I frantically whipped up some writing samples and sent them in, and things turned out well. The details are boring, but I will say that when you're interviewing for a job and the guys conducting the interview say "Hey, do you want to go grab a drink?" there is only one kind of person who says "no" in that situation: the person who doesn't get the job.

How it all came together for me is just one way things can happen. From my experience, my advice for landing a gaming journalism job is this: Keep playing games, go to college, refine your writing, and stay on top of what jobs are available.

On the subject of that last item, keep on eye on the Jobs and Internships tab of our contact page, where we post information about opportunities at Game Informer. We don't currently have any openings, but that won't always be the case. Best of luck!



To see your letter in the magazine or in this column, send an email to feedback@gameinformer.com

 

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