Question: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Depends on what you’re picturing.
It’s not all fun and games but it’s a lot of fun (in the sense that I love what I do) and a lot of games or rather (because I’m a guides writer) a lot of a few select games. As a goal-oriented nerd who loves the grind, I’m having the time of my life.
But this job is definitely not for everyone. Not just because it’s hard but because you have to love the work itself. Games are very much secondary to that.
Not gonna lie, it’s even better than I imagined.
I’m around some of the best in the industry and they’re also my friends. I love my desk. I take breaks by playing against the AI programmed into this magnetic Pong Machine (here I am playing against it at a convention years prior). I get to interview the people behind some of my favorite franchises of all time. And, the bulk of my job, I get to write guides that genuinely help people. I’ve even gotten DMs, Tweets, and comments from people thanking me for helping them get through a game or finish finding those last few collectibles. It’s a great feeling.
But I don’t love this work because I’m at IGN. I’m at IGN because I love this work.
I remember having a 3 day weekend, as a teacher, and using it to binge my way through Detroit Become Human in one sitting. After a full week of teaching, planning, and grading I’d finally reach the weekend only to be met with video game coverage to take care of and I was happy to do it. It’s what I lived for. As much as I liked teaching (and still have a huge place in my heart for education, hence this blog) any time I spent not working on video game journalism automatically sucked.
I remember going to Midwest Gaming Classic (my first ever convention!) and going to ever single event, panel, and meet-up I could. I was so thrilled to be that focussed on making content. It was a taste of the life I could have that made going back to the life I did have a bit of a disappointment.
It can’t be emphasized enough: I really do love this craft more than anything and that’s why I say it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
I think it’s equally important to emphasize the things that seem less appealing.
- Meeting the hard deadlines that come with embargos.
- Writing guides for games I dislike (this doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s a good 40 – 80 hrs of mediocrity and then another 40 – 80 documenting each step).
- Dealing with negative comments.
- Managing several moving parts every time you do a project in what can only be described as a high stakes pass the baton.
- Aggressively okay pay.
- A slew of tech issues: el gato not working, files not appearing, pages breaking, Adobe Premiere templates disappearing, you name it, I’ve lived it.
- Having to drop everything to tackle an urgent project and feeling the pressure to have a quick turn around (hello Final Fantasy 7 Remake Demo)
- A fundamental change in how you play games. This plays out differently for everyone. For me it’s how infrequently I play games for fun. The vast majority of my playtime is for work (guides, reviews, podcasts, filling gaps, etc).
- It’s almost impossible for me to truly leave work at work. There’s that scene at the end of the first episode of Scrubs where he talks about never truly leaving the Hospital. That’s how I feel.
- A Slack channel for EVERYTHING. To the point where you’re just navigating 27 slacks channels while also working but you have to keep checking them so you don’t miss anything important.
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