Top 5 Reasons Why You Never Want To Be a Game Critic

First of all, let’s clarify the headline:

Video game critics are not generally well liked. In fact, in the world of entertainment criticism, they might be the most hated. Why? Oh, a variety of reasons, most of which are, as one might expect, immature and ignorant. But of course, there’s one big reason why many heavily dislike game critics: Jealousy.

Whether they choose to admit it or not, many hardcore gamers would love to get paid to play games. It’s hardly uncommon. We’d all love to make a living out of our favorite hobbies; that way, getting up and going to “work” would feel like play all day, right? Well, we’ve already addressed this notion in a recent editorial and if you remember, there’s a gigantic potential downside to combining work and leisure.

At any rate, let’s return to the concept of “getting paid to play.” This has caused all sorts of wild theories among the gaming public, and few of them are accurate. It’s time to set the record straight. Here are a few points that should shock you back into reality:

The fastest way to go into debt is to dive into game journalism or criticism.

The fastest way to go into debt is to dive into game journalism or criticism.

1. The vast majority of game critics are poorly compensated for their efforts.

Most work on a part-time or even voluntary basis, and the full-time salary is, on average, downright pitiful. Bottom line? Most reviews you read on a daily basis are written by people who cannot survive on being a game critic alone.

2. You have to play everything that comes your way, not just what you want to play.

Think this is no big deal? Think that your worst day with a video game is still better than your best day in a “normal” job? Think again. After you’ve been forced to play a dozen crap-ass games in a row, and then write about each one, you may reconsider the idea that playing games is “always fun.”

3. The “fringe benefits” aren’t what you think.

Yes, some critics do get review copies of games, along with other promotional materials. But this doesn’t amount to much. Contrary to what you might think, critics are not cavorting about with industry bigwigs and high-profile developers, accepting invitations to yacht parties and participating in secret play tests.

Sometimes, at the end of a long day, this is all critics want to do.

Sometimes, at the end of a long day, this is all critics want to do.

4. The rewards are pathetically slim.

As we’ve already stated, the financial compensation usually isn’t enough to pay simple, everyday bills, but beyond that, you’re not exactly recognized for your efforts. In fact, you’re often roundly hated by one of the most immature groups of fans on earth. You spend your day playing a game you’re forced to play, writing an analysis for people who honestly believe they could all do a better job than you, and then wondering if any of it is really worthwhile.

5. You’re never only a critic. There’s more to these gigs, ya know.

Yeah, we know.  You think critics are just critics. But if you’re working for a website or publication, that’s typically not your only job. You might have to do some boring daily news, maybe you’ll have to do a newsletter, or perhaps there’s some tedious database work that needs to be done. The critics at VGRHQ have never spent the majority of their time reviewing games when operating as journalists.

In summation, these reasons contributed to our decision to start VGRHQ. Critics get paid like sh**, get treated like sh**, and very often, their days are sh***. Might as well toss a little recognition their way every now and then, right?

6 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons Why You Never Want To Be a Game Critic”

Got no interest in being a game critic. None. Zero.

I knew a lot of this already. It always shocks me when gamers I meet think basically the exact opposite, that all critics are making zillions of dollars (mostly from publishers paying them). It’s just sad that ANYONE believes this.

^^ I second this.

I still think some of it would be cool, and you have to admit it beats working at a gas station or something. 😉

But there are a lot of important points raised in this article that people need to understand. There’s a lot of completely over-the-top misassumptions out there.

I’m sure it beats working at a gas station but from what I’ve heard, working full-time at a gas station can actually earn you more money. As sad as that sounds. 🙁

That’s actually a pretty depressing read…

Lot of whining going on from people who are paid to play all day.


j/k 😉

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