Game Journalists Can’t Get Jobs Outside the Gaming Industry?

The video game journalist isn't a "real" journalist according to most.

The video game journalist isn’t a “real” journalist according to most.

The following is a personal story written by one of our contributors. As always, everyone remains anonymous at VGRHQ but his history stretches back to the PlayStation and Dreamcast days.  He began writing about video games then and has since been an active member of the gaming press for multiple websites.  But he, like many others in the industry today, finds himself in a bind. In his own words:

“My name is Troy and I’ve been a videogame journalist for almost two decades. I want out of the industry for a number of reasons but over the past couple of years, I’ve realized that it’s easier said than done.

I have learned that publications and sources outside gaming don’t even consider “videogame journalist” as something worthy of putting on a resume. I had one interview where I was asked if I had any other experience outside of covering videogames. When I said no, he gave me this pitying look and said: “I’m sorry, but we really need someone with more…applicable experience.” Obviously, he was being diplomatic but he didn’t consider for one second the legitimacy of my career.

Yep, that's what a game journalists often feels like.

Yep, that’s what a game journalists often feels like.

The worst part is that I don’t necessarily blame him. We have major sources in gaming these days, and they require talented reporters. Working for them, you will indeed be a “real” journalist. You’ll track down news and interviews, build a list of contacts, go behind the scenes in the industry, etc. But unfortunately, the majority of those who cover gaming still do so on a part-time or volunteer basis for one of the hundreds of lesser-known amateur sites and blogs.

Now, I have the bigger sources on my resume, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. The consensus in the general media is that game journalists simply don’t have the necessary skills or qualifications to cover anything besides videogames. Movie journalists can jump across to music without much problem, and even those who cover straight news can write the occasional op-ed or entertainment feature. In other words, just because you start off covering one thing in your journalism career hardly means you’re restricted to that field.

But it seems to be that way with game journalists. I have several peers who have – and are – experiencing the same thing. They can’t get journalism jobs in any other field, even though they often have far more overall experience than other applicants. It’s just that “experience” is a very subjective term and obviously, game journalists are on the very bottom rung of the ladder.

Nobody trusts game journalists to have any ability whatsoever.

Nobody trusts game journalists to have any ability whatsoever.

This poses an additional problem because it’s extremely difficult to make a living covering games. The pay is God-awful even if you work for one of the larger sites and as I said, the overwhelming majority of gigs are part-time or pro bono. So, when people in the industry get older and start to have more responsibilities and expenses, they find it almost impossible to remain a game journalist. They have to do something else and unfortunately, it rarely has anything to do with journalism. It’s like you have to start an entirely new career.

This is a fair warning to all those who are thinking about a career in game journalism. I would diversify immediately if I were you. If I could go back in time, I certainly would.

6 thoughts on “Game Journalists Can’t Get Jobs Outside the Gaming Industry?”

I’m not even a little surprised. Frankly, if I was a game journalist right now, I’d feel completely trapped. I KNOW what other industries think of our professionals.

Actually, if you asked them, they’d definitely put “professionals” in quotes.

I still remember thinking this would be my dream job.

I tried it.

…….it’s not.

I never wanted to try it. I guess I just foresaw all this crap.

Either that or I knew it would never make me any money. 😀

I think a lot of this will change in the coming years. You have to feel bad for people who can only say they wrote for Nintendo Power and some early magazines, because really, to journalists today, that just doesn’t count. I understand.

But gaming is starting to demand actual credentials to be a journalist in the field. So it has to change eventually.

As far as I can tell, being a video game journalist might be one of the worst jobs in the world.

I’m only basing this on a few friends but they say it’s just AWFUL. Crap ass pay, ridiculous hours, and a community that basically treats you like hell 24/7.

Yeah, sounds like a blast.

I’m pro-GamerGate and I don’t like games journos as a category being held collectively guilty for what some of them have done, but the problem is that most games journos are not doing many attempts to look like professionals or to clean up house. If you want games journalism to be worth mentioning in your CV, then make it a real profession rather than something akin to the average politicized clickbait site. Starting embracing ethical standards, behave like professionals and shun clickbait and sensationalism. Without professionalism and ethical conduct, being a game journo is no different than being a tumblr blogger.

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