What do you feel makes games journalism different from other kinds of journalism?
In my experience, games journalism differs from other kinds of journalism in that the majority of the time, journalism is not an accurate term to describe it. Most of a [gaming] journalist’s job is PR approved interviews, writing up news stories from PR approved press releases, and reviews of content that is provided by PR. Most game critics are more accurately described as reporters and critics [rather] than journalists. Games journalism at the moment has a real issue in how PR controlled it is, and as such … it is [hard] to do any kind of investigative or expository work.
What are some of the most challenging aspects of the job that you have encountered?
For me, the two most challenging aspects are (a) getting noticed in a field full of ambitious [and enthusiastic] writers, and (b) walking the line between PR mouthpiece and hard-hitting critic. In terms of getting noticed, there are so many teenagers willing to write about video games just for a free copy of a new release that it can be a real challenge to turn writing about games into a reliable living. A lot of that comes down to building a personal brand that [is] memorable and making connections with [known] writers and editors. In terms of the balance between PR and journalism, there’s a constant battle to know when it’s worth jeopardising a PR connection to break a story that’s of importance to readers. It’s always a case-by-case basis, but hopefully over the next few years this problem will slowly lessen.
You’re involved in a lot of podcasts. How did you start podcasting?
I first got into podcasting almost two years ago as a way to get over a fear of public speaking. [A few months earlier] I had launched a website called IndieHaven.com and wanted an excuse to interview game developers on a regular basis. Podcasts are quick to make and produce, as well as being a great source of audience interaction and personality building. I enjoyed my first few podcasts so much that I launched a couple of other podcasts with different niches, allowing my readers to get a better idea of what I was like as a person, building up my personal brand.
You’ve recently become the UK editor at Destructoid.com. What does this mean for your career?
For me, writing for Destructoid is a fantastic chance to work with some big-name writers on a site with a very active readership who are open to experimentation with content and the format that writing is done in. I find [that] writing for Destructoid is a nice way to write news for an audience that is eager to interact with the author of the work, as well as a place with a large audience to test new [ways to go] forward.
Do you have any advice for aspiring games journalists?
Persevere, even if you feel like you’ve been working your socks off and you’re not getting anywhere. It took me the best part of three years to get [to] where I am now, writing every morning before work and every night when I got home for no pay and very little reward. It’s an incredibly tough field to get into, but if you keep pushing for it you’ll get there eventually