Okay, first of all I would like to apologize for the guest speaker himself! Unfortunately, due to unforeseen events (which I’m sure you can understand we’re out of my control), Tony Mott couldn’t make the lecture, he was replaced by the next best thing:
The Features Editor, Jason Killingsworth.
With the bad news out the way (although that’s a little disrespectful!), both questions got answered, so lets dig in.
I’ll begin with BlindMango’s question:
I am always interested in how people got their start in journalism and how they moved up from there, would you mind sharing a little bit of your story?
As I expected, the lecture was pretty much devoted to how he got to where he was today, whilst also providing some hints and tips on how to get our feet in the doors.
So first of all, he explained how he got into the industry: interestingly, he actually started reviewing music on his blog (unpaid, obviously). Because he was passionate about music, and as he had no qualifications (and even if he did, there was no jobs anyway); he decided he would do it just because he enjoyed it.
Eventually getting noticed for his hard work, he got a job for a music magazine (I can’t remember the name, apologies). Soon after, he got a call from Nintendo, they explained that they are releasing a new game, and feel that a music reviewer would do the game some justice, a game most of you have probably heard of: Donkey Konga.
Being a gamer, he toke the chance and impressed. Fast forward a couple of years, Jason was unemployed, and looking for any game journalism job. He applied for EDGE as a Games Editor, never expecting to get the job. I’m sure your all aware of the outcome of that interview if you’ve read thus far!
Instead of the Games Editor job, he was transferred to Features Editor; a job he’s been doing for 2 years now.
So that pretty much answers BlindMango’s question I think, I’ll bullet point some of the other tidbits:
- Twitter is a great place to get noticed, if you use it maturely. He described it as ‘The best way to get to know an interviewee’ and ten times more useful than a CV.
- Working for EDGE: A job title means nothing: you can review a game even if your title isn’t a reviewer!
- If you want a Journalism job, give yourself a job. Write a blog, write reviews, it really is the best way to get seen.
- Never refer to yourself as ‘new’, ‘aspiring’ or a ‘student’, if your writing material, your a journalist just like them! You should never disrespect your work by saying your new.
- You can be the best writer in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got anything to say. Read and explore ideas, read a range of topics, not just games.
- Be opinionated, don’t just report. 7 years ago that was fine, but with social media nowadays, news is reported instantly, just reporting news isn’t enough anymore.
- If you’ve got a good piece, pitch it! But pitch something new and interesting. Not just your opinion on something everyone else has already written. (By pitch, he means email!)
- One last thing I thought was interesting: Jason was asked if there’s ever any pressure from publishers to give a game a good review. He obviously said no, never! But did say they regularly get “gifts” from publishers, the most recent example being Halo 4; Microsoft sent them some cupcakes! He insisted that never, ever is there any pressure, just ‘nice gestures’.
- He thinks Microsoft will be announcing something in a few weeks, when asked about next-gen.
So… On to the second question asked by Legit_Elite:
My question for him is, with gamers and developers attempting [to] grow the industry to become more mature and acceptable in society, what is a journalists’ role to help with this. Also should they?
Jason’s response: He said he believes the industry is maturing because the people that make them are also maturing. The maturation is a byproduct of designers themselves. But it’s not just them, it’s everyone. Journalists are also ageing you know! He used Cliff Bleszinski as an example. Cliff said he didn’t wanna be known for a ‘cheeseburger games legacy’ and that it made him feel embarrassed; hence leaving Epic to try something new.
So there you have it people! I hope you all enjoyed that, thanks for the questions and apologises for the delay in posting this, it toke longer than I expected!
Again, this is the last one of the Academic Year but I’ll be back next year for a full season!
I look forward to conversing in the comments,