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  • So You Want to Be a Games Journalist: Part One

    [10.19.06]
    - Aaron McKenna
  • Becoming a Games Journalist, Step-by-Step

    Just because I'm a sucker for having an action plan, here's Aaron's Five Step Program to Becoming a Games Journalist the "Easy" Way.

    1.  Be a gamer. (You're already a gamer, right? Why else would you want to be a games journalist?) Play games, read about games, enjoy games.
    2. Be a writer. You are not going to be able to fall out of the bed tomorrow and be a successful games journalist, or any other type of journalist for that matter. Practice writing and read the work of others often. Give your work a critical eye and hone it constantly. There is no other way than practice, practice and practice some more.
    3. Get a degree, if you want to go directly into a staff position. Study whatever you want - most journalists have arty type degrees like English, History, Politics (etc, etc, etc), but it doesn't really matter what you study, so long as you have that magical CV item. Go on, you'll have fun in college anyways, and one of the big things you need to inform your writing beyond technical skill is life experience, and there's plenty of that on a campus.
    4. Do work experience and/or put together a portfolio. A good work experience placement does wonders for your career opportunities at a publishing house. Having a portfolio, published or otherwise, is also essential to showcase your technical abilities and your style as a writer.
    5. Get a job (duh...). If you can get a games job first try, kudos. If not, get a job which will allow you to reposition yourself into a games journalism job at a later date.

    Conclusion

    3,000 words or so later and we arrive at the conclusion. Did I mention the ability to waffle-on as essential to the craft of journalism? Or was that detrimental? I never can remember, but I do hope that by firing all these pieces of minutia (my word for today, find it earlier in the article and win a lollipop) at you in quick succession will leave something sticking to the inside walls of your brain for you to ponder.

    So, we've covered roughly what games journalism is all about, and the fairly straight forward manner in which you can become a games journalist. In the next part I will cover freelancing, a far more complex, but I think also interesting and exciting, way of becoming a games journalist. This part will be of interest to aspiring games journalists and existing staff writers wishing to go freelance alike. Even if you want to go the easy route of degree to a staff position you may find yourself fighting in the freelance trenches for a little while, so stick around.

    In the meantime, feel free to ask me any questions you have on games journalism in the forums.

    Aaron McKenna is the editor ("bastard", if you're a freelancer) of Tom's Hardware Guide UK & Ireland and a former freelance journalist ("urchin", if you're an editor) who specialises in video games and consumer electronics.

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