I am a near 30’s male… I have attempted a gaming blog but my own personal mental issues with my writing and the possibility of changing careers whilst getting older makes me feel that I am maybe too late. Do you feel there’s a moment where it might be too late to get into games journalism? I have always enjoyed writing about games and have wanted to do it but with no one in particular ‘marking’ or giving feedback on my pieces I worry that I am not improving and as time ticks on it may be a bit too late to reap benefits from sticking to it?Asked via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve spent my life loving games and would love to work in the industry in any capacity. But I’m getting on in life. To the point where I feel like I’d likely be overlooked for any potential jobs that would traditionally go to a younger, more malleable person worthy of developing into a truly great journo/content creator. Is it too late for me?Asked via email to email@example.com
Both of these questions boil down to the same inquiry: is it too late for me to become a game journalist/content creator? The answer is always no.
Challenges Are Hurdles, Not Dead Ends
Age can be a barrier but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Too many people talk themselves out of their own dreams. As harsh as this sounds, the truth is for a lot of people it’s easier to list how the odds are stacked against them and determine things are impossible than to go for what they want and fail.
I want to be clear that, like in many industries, ageism is a problem. And when combined with sexism it becomes a deadly combination that can hold women back from camera work once they reach 30+, an age that isn’t any semblance of old.
As someone who started making content at 21 and got a full-time staff job at 25, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be an older person breaking into the space.
If Someone Won’t Work With You Because of Your Age, That’s Their Problem
While I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an older writer breaking in but I can tell you that I don’t care how old anyone is. I want folks who can do the work. In fact, I have no idea how old most of our freelancers are. It has never played a role in my feedback, who I recommend for projects, or who I try to bring onto our team. Of course, that’s because I’m not ageist. If someone won’t work with you because “you’re old” that sucks. It’s not fair. But this also isn’t a good person to work with because they’re not a good person, period.
Being young is a privilege in that time is on your side but it’s worth noting that youth also comes with its own set of challenges: such as not being taken seriously by others and having more gaming gaps to fill because you weren’t playing GoldenEye in your college dorm.
Why Don’t I See Older Folks in Games Media?
There’s no single, right answer as to why you don’t typically see older folks in games media but (ageism issues aside) this is what I’ve been told. Many begin in their 20s so by the time they hit their 30s, 40s, and 50s here’s what happens:
- They Burn Out: This industry is brutal and after years of working (and often overworking) people have had their fill and leave.
- They Want Better Pay: This industry is notoriously underpaid. In terms of the white collar world, you can make more money doing a lot of different things. Even in terms of games, writing/content creation is one of the lower paying gigs. Not that game developers are swimming in stability themselves.
- They Just Want to Try New Things: People often romanticize being a game journalist/content creator as the coolest thing you can do and while it is awesome, it’s just a job. And like with all jobs, people leave. Sometimes it’s because things were bad, sometimes they just want a change of pace. People in media/content creation end up seeing a lot of facets of the game world and meeting a lot of people. Piqued interests and new contacts can sometimes lead people to seek out new jobs and new positions. And, of course, there are people who leave games completely and that’s okay too!
Ps. You Need Feedback!
One of the questions listed at the top of this post states, “…with no one in particular ‘marking’ or giving feedback on my pieces I worry that I am not improving and as time ticks on it may be a bit too late to reap benefits from sticking to it?”
It’s not too late but GO GET FEEDBACK. Here are some quick bullet points as to how to get that feedback:
- Get paid to write for outlets. A good editor will always make (suggested) changes to your work or have some form of feedback. This is especially true for reviews, previews, and features. News feedback is a thing too but I find a lot of people hiring news freelancers are looking for people who know how to do that job. I got feedback on my news stories but most of that was when I first started writing news AND was new to a site. TIP: some editors will comment with changes, some will use the suggested changes tool, others will just change it and check with you after. Be sure to always keep a copy of the original so you can compare what you had to what was published and take note of how it was improved and in what ways. Then incorporate those takeaways into your next, first draft!
- If you “can’t” get paid to write for outlets, consider asking for a freelance friend for feedback because you should definitely be posting stuff on your own whether you’re already paid or not. If you don’t have friends who make content, go make friends! (Which will be a whole nother post coming soon).
- You can get feedback from places that won’t pay you but one has to wonder how good the feedback would even be. Also see Should You Work for Free when Starting Out? Spoilers: No.
- And, of course, feedback isn’t the only way to get better. Reading more (games related and other), watching videos, playing more games, and writing a lot will all improve things.
These questions were asked to me via email. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. These FAQ posts will be filed under the Ask Gameonysus Category of my blog. Questions are always kept anonymous.