I’m a budding journalist in my junior year of college with hopes of getting into the games industry through straight journalism (like IGN, Kotaku, etc.) or PR. I’ve been stressing out as graduation creeps ever closer about what my future may look like… I feel like I’m doing all I can now (I’m an editor at my school’s paper, the president of our Japanese club and an Editor for a video game website called REDACTED) but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Do you have any advice as to what more I could do to try and help myself get a job in the industry post graduation?Question asked via Twitter DMs @Gameonysus
While this question was asked from a college student perspective my answer is the same for everyone and, damn, this is a long list. Here’s everything you could be doing to build a career in video game journalism and content creation.
I’m going to try to present new information and reframe old information in a new way so in the interest of that goal I recommend checking out my older posts on this topic.
- Beginner’s Guide: Going From 0 to 100
- My Biggest Piece of Advice for College Students
- How do you stand out when there are thousands of people going for your same dream?
Get the Most of Your College
- Take classes to build practical skills.
- Seek out career related extra circulars.
- Run/host events on campus.
- Look for journalism jobs in your college town/area.
Self Reflect, Research, and Set Goals
This step will determine how you proceed. Some of what I suggest below may be the last thing you want to do in the world and thus may not apply to you (though I urge you to keep an open mind to every facet of games media).
Think about what you want to do in this industry, what that job entails, and what skills you need for that job. From there, you can start setting goals.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you won’t be able to do everything, all the time. That’s okay. But if you’re looking for more to do there’s probably plenty to do.
Plan Ahead and Keep Up With News/Trends
What are the big games coming out this year? What’s the hottest indie out right now? What’s the news? When’s the next big event to watch (and live Tweet)? Keeping up with all this info will help you plan your gaming and your subsequent content.
Play A Lot of Video Games
- Play the big releases. GOTY watch starts on January first. Good luck!
- Play indies (trending ones and ones you’re just interested in). Try and find indies to highlight and definitely keep up with the ones that get a buzz.
- Fill your gaming gaps. Play major releases you’ve missed. For this I like to prioritize based on which game has an active series (sequel is expected or rumored). So if you didn’t play BOTW, that’s an important one to get to ahead of BOTW 2.
- Play games you love/are interested in. It’s important to still play for fun. Look for games you’re into. Play games just for the joy of gaming. I have a lot of games I should be playing but I’m having fun finally picking Sunset Overdrive back up and playing Man of Medan with my family. Those things are just as important as getting to Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
Make Video Content
- YouTube. Weekly videos are an ideal minimum but I usually start at 2 a month and scale up from there. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to video editing and YouTube in general but doing something is better than nothing so jump into it and learn along the way.
- Twitch. Get to streaming. Make a schedule and commit to it. Don’t worry about streaming at “ideal times.” The best time to stream is the time you can maintain. Besides building the skill(s) and building community, this will bake in some guaranteed play time for you (which can be difficult the more you write about games as ironic as that sounds). Plus, playing with an audience can help you let go of your ego. Being okay with being bad in front of people was a hurdle I’m glad I overcame. Jumping into a game cold and figuring it out on the fly is good practice too.
Make a Podcast
Be sure to put it on YouTube and on podcast platforms. To get another piece of content from it you could stream it live on Twitch first! You can do this podcast by yourself but having guests will build your resume when it comes to hosting. Plus podcasting is a great way to connect with other creators!
Make a Patreon
Making a Patreon will help you build your community (say hello to your super fans!) and make some money along the way. It will also help you learn how to monetize your content effectively. What do people want? What should be free and what should you charge for?
Your Patreon can be tied to whatever you want.
Make a Discord
This Discord can compliment your Twitch, YouTube, and/or Patreon.
Get Active on Social Media
Community building happens on a lot of other platforms too: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Reddit are all good places to start. Don’t JUST self promote and leave. Seek out conversations you’re interested in. Follow people whose work and opinions you enjoy. Join groups where you can talk about games and meet other content creators.
Network and Collab With Others
Social media is a great way to network and build connections. As your community of peers grow you’ll find people to collab with. There’s currently a pandemic but when events return: go to them! Until then, consider checking out online events and mixers.
Write (For Yourself and Others)
Below are the kinds of writing you can do. You’ll want experience in all of these categories.
Learn Key Programs and Tools to Build Versatile Skills
- Adobe Premiere. Get to video editing! If you can’t afford this there are other free tools you can use but this is the ideal one to get familiar with.
- Adobe Photoshop. Start making some dope thumbnails and art for your articles. You can also make promotional images for your other content, socials, etc.
- Google Trends. Learn how google trends works and how it relates to the industry.
- Trello. Some sites you end up writing for may use this so it can be nice to know how it works. So far I’ve written for 2 sites that have used Trello. And good news: it’s free!
- Slack. The same goes for Slack. It’s what most sites use to communicate (discord is also a big one so even if you don’t make your own get used to how it works!). I’ve written for 3 sites that use Slack.
Build [a] Niche[s]
Developing a niche (or several niches) can land you gigs and help you make a name for yourself. Reflect on your interests and consider becoming an expert in a few topics. The less mainstream the better. Here are some examples: racing sims, VR, sports sims. It can be something more popular but, if it is, try to find an angle that separates you from the crowd.
Study the Industry
- Watch documentaries.
- Read books.
- Read articles.
- Watch videos.
Rest, Take Breaks, and Set Boundaries
If you really care about your work you have to care about your rest. You can’t play games and write articles and become this brilliant journalist/content creator if you’re burnt out, injured, and ignoring all your loved ones.
Keep working at things, keep getting better, but know that you can’t just pile on the hours nonstop and expect it to expedite things. Build in days off. Have boundaries. Make plans with family and friends so that you can do something other than work. Exercise. Eat well. And remember to take vacations.
Note: These guides are provided for free because I want everyone to get their industry questions answered. However, if you’d like to support me continuing to create content drop a tip anywhere below:
This question was asked to me via DMs. But you can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions are always kept anonymous.