Tag Archives: Video Games

So you want to be a video games “journalist”?

Over the last few months, I’ve had people coming to me for advice about wanting to break into the video games industry as a reviewer or journalist. To be entirely honest, I’m not sure I’ve actually gotten into the industry yet but I’ll give you whatever advice I can give. I’ve also asked friends who work in journalism or video games about what advice they’d give people, so that’s thrown in too.

“Video Games Journalism”

Let’s be honest with each other, there aren’t that many legitimate journalists in the video games industry. Not traditional journalists, anyway. A lot of what video games journalism is these days is regurgitating media releases and reporting on rumours. Doing legitimate journalistic work is pretty hard to come by, it’s more editorial work. Not that there work isn’t out there, but it’s probably being done already. You’ll need to prove yourself.

So, the advice I’ve got:

                On writing

It sounds simple enough, but depending on where you want to get into, your writing style needs to suit that style of publication. Read previous reviews of the publication you want to write for and get a feeling of their style. Having a range of writing styles is a great thing to have in your arsenal as a writer.

Write about anything and everything, it’s the only way to improve this utmost vital skill. Find press releases and rewrite them, write fake news stories about the characters in games, write reviews on everything you’ve used, played, seen or read. Start yourself a blog and put your opinions out into the world. You’ll get a range of people looking at your stuff and they’re going to give you their honest opinion. Just remember, all criticism can be useful if you don’t get upset by it.

On video games

Understanding how video games work is probably important if you’re interested in video games. Ask developers what goes into making a game, or take a basic coding course (there are some available online) to give you a greater insight into how what goes into a game. Your passion for video games is what got you interested in this kind of writing, a deeper understanding never hurts.

On industry shows

Go to every event you can get in to. Last year at PAX Australia, I introduced myself to indie developers showing their wares and built relationships with people. A few weeks later, I got an email from one of the guys I’d met asking me to review their game. I took down business cards with my contact details (work email, mobile number, website) and they sent me a copy of their game. Going to industry events is important for networking. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s in your best interest to know everybody.

For stuff you can’t get to (E3, anyone?), streaming and live-tweeting are going to be your friends. Getting involved in hashtags will help you get into the conversation and gauge the reaction of your intended audience.

On the Internet

The Internet is a big, scary place and it’s full of individuals who have strong, conflicting opinions and you’re likely to meet someone who disagrees with you. And maybe, they’ll disagree with you so much they’ll call you nasty names, say horrible things about you to their friends and try to rubbish you so that you don’t get more work. It’s bound to happen. What’s important to remember is that there are people who agree with you, too.

It’s also a vital part of what you want to do. Traditional print doesn’t have much room for video game editorials or reviews (outside of video game publications), so it’s best to make yourself an online presence.

About yourself

Be honest. People will read your work under the impression that you’re being completely honest and transparent in your work. This is especially important when reporting news and writing reviews, even your editorials needs to accurately represent your opinion. If someone pays you to write something; announce it upfront. If you’ve been provided with a product; acknowledge that the product was provided by a company. If you don’t disclose everything, people will find out and you risk your reputation.

Have confidence in yourself, and your writing. If you’re not confident of what you’re writing, it’ll be reflected in your piece. This is something I struggle with time to time, but I have a good circle of support to help me realise that sometimes I write English good (yes, that was intentional.) Find people who are willing to read your work and give you feedback, it’s the only way you’ll learn.

If you’ve got the talent and the drive to be successful, you’ll be successful. People respond to people who are confident in their ability to progress and succeed. With help, I’ve written for Player Attack, been retweeted by PAX Australia and reviewed for ASUS and Walk-Thru Walls. Have the guts to ask for help and send your stuff to everyone. If they reject you, ask for feedback about what you can improve. If you’re accepted, ask what they liked about your piece. Every little bit helps.

 

Thanks to James McGrath, Lauren Grey (and her friend) and Scott Rhodie for their help with this post.

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Two Games Down, 98 More To Go…

In the month since I started the Steam Challenge, I’ve felt quite overwhelmed. Realising how much time and effort this will require, the size of my list, what I can finish and what I can’t; it’s all a lot to think about!

Some of the pressure has been relieved, thankfully, when this week I finished two games. I know it’s only two games, but it’s a start and sometimes that’s all you need.

This week I finished Mass Effect 2 (no plans to finish Mass Effect 3 since it isn’t in my Steam list, but I’ll probably import my character and actually finish Mass Effect 3… eventually) and a texty-point-and-clicky RPG called Monsters Love You.

My Mum asked me about this challenge recently. I explained to her the basic rules and regulations I’ve imposed on myself and what I’ll be doing. Her second question was “How many games do you need to play?”

“Well, I’ve got 100 games in my list and I’ve figured that I can play at least half of them before I have to start looking at games that I can’t actually finish.”

While my Mum doesn’t necessarily understand my work, her interest in it (or feigning of) is nice, too. Hopefully with the coming months and more games being completed, she’ll be my own personal cheer-squad.

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YouTube Starts Widespread Copyright Notices on Gaming Material

A lot of YouTubers are reporting wide-spread copyright infringements on videos that include video game material, according to several news outlets including Polygon.

To some, this comes as little surprise after the TotalBiscuit saga where John Bain (better known as the Cynical Brit) had a video removed by WildGameStudios who are responsible for Day One: Garry’s Incident. (They have since apologized and removed their claim.) However, this practice of using the copyright system against YouTubers to remove videos is becoming worrying more prevalent.

It appears that in the last week, YouTube has started scanning Let’s Play and Review channels for so-called “copyright” material and issuing warnings or infringements on accounts. Channels as large as TheRadBrad and Machinima are having their inboxes flooded with warning notices.

My YouTube channel is incredibly small (24 subscribes, heeeeeeeyoooooo!) and I’ve had copyright notices sent to my account, but not since August when my last Let’s Play went live. As a small channel and an unknown reviewer, the complex copyright laws which exist in the US (where YouTube and company owner Google operate) scare the Hell out of me. Even the laws here in Australia tend to work against anyone wanting to use material under “Fair Use”.

Some publishers are notorious for issuing warnings against YouTubers for even mentioning their material in games, but others like Blizzard and Capcom are telling users to challenge any infringement notices.

The issue is sticky. Copyright laws vary from country to country and no-one understands why YouTube are suddenly on the warpath for potentially infringing material. YouTubers are responding appropriately, though:

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Double Fine Developer Leaves.

Ron Gilbert, best known for his games Manic Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island revealed that he would be leaving the quirky director via his blog earlier today.

After development on “The Cave” finished, he decided it was time for him to move on.

Now that The Cave is done and unleashed on an unsuspecting world (ok, we did do a bunch of PR, so it wasn’t exactly unsuspecting), it’s time for me to move on from Double Fine and plot my next move.

This raises a question: What’s happening with the incredibly successful Kickstarter that Schafer started last year? If one of his lead developers is leaving, what on Earth is going on?

I, unfortunately, haven’t had the pleasure of playing any of Gilbert’s games but from what I’ve heard, they’re great fun. I should probably invest in a copy of Monkey Island…

Anyone wanna add that to my list?

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Replay Value

I was thinking about the mountain of games I have yet to finish, but all I wanted to do was replay BioShock. My love for BioShock isn’t disguised by any means and this sparked a question, “Why, after finishing BioShock 4 or 5 times, do I want to play it AGAIN when I have a plethora of games waiting to even be unwrapped?”

Replay value is a tricky thing to talk about as it varies from player to player. My friend, Aimee (Hi, Aimee!) has replayed Mass Effect a few times and I don’t see the appeal but she doesn’t see my almost orgasmic desire to replay Bioshock. She’s also said that her favourite game to replay is Dragon Age, another RPG, with what she’s described as clunky controls.

The desire is quite bizarre since Bioshock is a linear game with only two real endings and RPG’s like the ones mentioned are fairly repetitive with some missions.

Trying to analyse what we find fascinating about games we replay is easy, however. The elements that make us return to our favourite games to relive moments with characters with love and cherish (or despise). I’ve found new areas to explore with more exciting loot. There’s a lot that you can miss during your first play-through of game and with the added encouragement of achievements, there’s enough content to go back.

There are games I’m always going to keep because of replay value. I think that’s a merit to the developers. They’ve created a game that you can be so attached too, that no matter how many times you play it, you’re never bored of it.

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How Will Breaking Street Date Affect Gamers in Australia?

Batman as he was depicted in Batman: The Anima...

In the last two months, three games have broken street date in Australia: Batman, Battlefield 3 and as of today, Skyrim. While most gamers are happy that they don’t have to wait for the release date for games, I’m not entirely pleased with the whole situation. This could have a shocking effect on gaming in Australia.

For those who aren’t familiar, a street date is a date set by the publishers for when a game is released. If the game breaks that, it means that the game is being sold earlier. From the couple of people I know who work in a bricks-and-mortar games shop, this can be a pricey mistake with penalties upwards of AU$20,000 for releasing a game pre-maturely.

Australia seems to be suffering from pre-mature release syndrome and it isn’t just the stores that suffer. Since we have the worst track record for breaking the date with games, what’s stopping publishers from delaying the game even longer and “punish us” persay? Isn’t half the fun of pre-ordering a game or getting the game on the day of release the launch day parties and such? Getting excited for the game with all the marketing and anticipation of going to a midnight launch; seeing all the other people who have been anxious to get their hands on the game. Something about a broken street date makes it seem like a wastes effort. My boyfriend picked up Skyrim today and it doesn’t even unlock till midnight, so what’s the point?

Breaking street date might not hurt us now, but I can see in the future that publishers might not choose to ship certain games to Australia without some kind of iron-clad agreement signed from sellers to say that they’ll accept any penalties for releasing the game early. It’ll be the only way to ensure that publishers get the outcome they want without it being spoiled by retailers.

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How Do You Rate a Games Worth?

I frequent a fairly well-known gaming e-zine/online forum. While I was checking up on a thread I created, I saw a thread about a new Sims 3 Pets Expansions. Since I’m fairly keen on the Sims 3, I entered the thread and found some truly idiotic responses but this was the topper:

MercurySteam: Who gives a crap about The Sims 3 when Gears of fucking War 3 comes out next week?

In other words; no, not really.

Now, this pissed me off to no end. Who is to say that Gears of War is worth more than the Sims 3? Is it because that Gears of Wars is about Über-testosterone and violencing the hell out of every living being?

Let’s analyse this.

Gears Of War: is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios.

The Sims 3: is a 2009 strategic life simulation computer game developed by The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts.

So they’re very different games. One is a sci-fi game and the other is a simulation. They’re obviously not comparable so what makes one better than the other?

Simple answer? Nothing. It’s a matter of opinion. Although, it’s in the opinion of this writer than the Sims 3 is a better game than GoW. At least Sims 3 isn’t a dribbling, brain-dead love song to overly mucho men and how manly they can be.

/rant.

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My Friend Steals my Xbox, Suddenly Converts (Blogspot Post)

Xbox logo

Image via Wikipedia

“Addie, you love me right?”
“May be, why?”
“Can I borrow the Sexbawks for a little while?”
“Why?”
“’cause…”

This is a conversation with my friend, who I’ll call Jerkface to protect his identity. He is on school holidays and has decided this week would be the week that he’d steal my beloved Xbox and play Assassin’s Creed 2.

What’s interesting about this is he’s a PC gamer, and by rights would be my enemy if the platform wars ever decided to break free of the internet. Also, I know he’s got money to buy the game. You know, he probably would if Ubisoft didn’t have that silly “Permanent connection to internet” DRM that’s been rubbing people the wrong way.

Anyway, I think I’m starting to slowly turn him towards way of thinking about console! He even thought about buying an Elite. Not that he’ll ever admit it. If he keeps following my lead, he’ll be swooning like a woman when Nathan Fillon is on Castle.

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