> Journal Entry 18
I talk about my job quite often and I’ve come to realize that some people don’t even fully understand what I do, even though they know what video games and writing are. I thought it’s about time I tell you what I do in detail. Maybe not too much detail, otherwise you’ll be all critical and shit next time you see me. The surface stuff at least is nice to hear though, so let’s go with those.
This is my “work” story.
So, if you are one of my blog readers, you may already know that I work for IGN. IGN Greece in particular. I started off as an author at CowboyTV which was the go-to website for eSports in Greece and when the company purchased the IGN rights, I got invited to work for IGN Greece. I started there as an author again, writing news on a daily basis (3 to even 10 a day) as well as some reviews here and there. I was always an avid video gamer and even a competitive one at some point (I think I’ve mentioned quite a few of my accomplishments in that field in one of my previous articles) but that didn’t necessarily qualify me to be a games journalist / writer / whatever you wanna call it.
Being a writer means you can also write. Write better than 90% of the people out there. Being a writer means that you can use words in order to make images in the reader’s head. Bring a feeling that the reader did not expect to have. Relate words with situations and use adjectives as your weapon in all the metaphors that you so beautifully bring to your readers (punny).
I did not believe I had that. I was pretty good at essay writing in Greek, but that doesn’t say much. Despite that, I loved English so much that I felt like I should be writing in English instead of Greek. If anything, if you wanna make money someday, you can’t expect to be a Greek-only writer. But being a multilingual writer creates even more issues. You need to be good and up to speed with both languages at the same time and that means more time in practicing both. I did not have an issue with doing that, but the fact that I didn’t find equal professional opportunities for both played a big role in how things developed later.
So, not to lecture you too much on my past, I basically started taking freelance jobs for SEO and creative Ghostwriting through websites like elance and freelancer.com and I worked for people that paid me bits of grain compared to what a real writer should be getting paid. Gotta start somewhere though right? Soon enough, I was at the point where I was able to understand how I needed to write articles to make them more or less appealing, depending on what was needed in each situation. I learned how to blog, how to make my own stuff interesting and how to attract the right people for my kind of articles. It’s knowledge that I rarely use for my own blog, since I honestly don’t care that much about how many people I attract, but something that has helped me nail some pretty great gigs from time to time that made me some good money.
I have a problem. I write long sentences. I write like I speak some times. Worse actually. I am beginning to speak the way I write which is kind of weird if I started by writing the way I speak. Ok, I’m getting confused now.
So on with the story and it’s a sunny day (not sure if it really was) in Greece. I am looking at my facebook feed when a weird girl (Yiota) likes a picture that I posted in a Star Wars group on facebook. I start talking with her because we had some common friends and it turns out she was the chief editor of CBTV. Couple months later and I am already writing for CBTV, reviewing games and writing for whatever the heck I want around indie games. Even though without payment, it was a great gig since I got my first chance at writing for a major gaming website in my country. I wrote for Noizy.gr before where I did music reviewing so I had some experience about writing Greek on a major Greek entertainment-related website.
Some more months later and CBTV gets to run IGN’s first attempt of invading Greece with its content. With a great roster of people getting it ready, IGN was sure to have a great start and so it did. I was invited to come on board to supply the website with my niche knowledge on the indie industry and so I’ve done ever since I started working for them.
But what does being an author and indies press correspondent at IGN Greece mean really? Is it gaming all day and writing a couple articles? I wish it was.
Being an author at IGN Greece means that you get to write about basically anything you want in your given field, as long as you write by the rules of the website. Apart from that though, if you want to be considered a member of the team, you need to contribute in some way or another. If you are new, the only way to do that is write news. Lots and lots of news. I am not saying that in a spiteful way though since it’s just a requirement for you to earn the team’s trust. I have about 500 news articles published on IGN Greece under my belt but I know people that have written double that amount in the same time as I have been there.
It was after a certain point that I got tired of waiting for someone to give me a key in order to provide press coverage for a game that I liked so I took it upon me to earn the trust of the website runners and get a position that would allow me to find those things on my own. Soon enough, the awesome people of IGN Greece promoted me to the press correspondent for indie companies and I started using the hell out of my corporate e-mail address. I’ve been doing this for just about 5 months and I’ve already done press coverage for more than 150 indie games, I’ve visited Gamescom and made 47 interviews in 5 days, and last but not least, I’ve written a heck ton of reviews and previews.
It was always my goal to try making people appreciate the art that indie studios create, but it soon became more than that. It wasn’t just about talking about my own experience playing a game, but also about being able to assimilate all those experiences for myself as well. Being able to play about 2 to 3 different and beautiful games every day is a blessing for me. I believe that the little kid that was watching his brothers play Monkey Island would be very much proud of his older self.
I am not writing this to brag though. I’m writing this to explain what this job means.
With experience in many forms of art, specifically visual and audio, I was already at a very good spot for reviewing anything, be it a movie, a song or even a video game. A video game though, is a collection of all those things and in order to understand it, let alone criticize it, you need to be accustomed to many things. I was lucky enough to have brothers that were into photography and sketching. Both of them ended up being amazingly talented experts of their fields and one of them actually is even working for the French Cartoon Network right now, which is something that makes me feel really proud about him. Both masters of photoshop and both really eager to learn more about the art they love, they never stopped reading books and watching tutorials on everything. Not just photoshop, fuck photoshop. I have seen so much sketching and animation software that I can barely remember half of it. All of those things played a major role for me since I was very often part of them. Just standing behind one of my brothers, watching what they are doing, learning something very important without realizing it.
I know how rigs work. I know how animation works. I know how photography is taken care of in movies. I know how to make music blend with a certain background. I know how to produce, mix and compose sounds. I know how storyboards work. I know how to even create one.
I know how to see things from a different perspective. But that isn’t enough. I need to be able to write about it too.
My brother always reads my reviews, since he is a gamer himself and quite the critic too. He sometimes messages me saying “You know you can use words other than beautiful and great right? There are so many fuckin’ words and you keep using the same unimaginative ones…”. I love it and hate it at the same time, because he is right. I even blocked him once because he really pissed me off. It may not be easy, but at least I’m trying. I’m trying my hardest and when I read other people’s reviews I find myself to be overjoyed with how shitty that other guy’s review looks when compared to mine.
Websites like IGN though don’t want a fully artistic judgement when it comes to reviewing an indie game. Heck, I even ask of indie companies to include giveaway keys with the coverage so that we can attract a few more people to the article. Otherwise, who knows if anyone will even read it. People click on IGN so that they can see the “top 10 deaths in video games” and not how “Aviary Attorney is the most witty adventure game I’ve played in the past year.”
The world is full of shitty readers. Uneducated ones. Just because you know things, doesn’t mean your writing and judgement will be appreciated it.
I had the same experience when I worked as a composer for various indie companies and I would find myself, time and again, fighting with people as to why what I am suggesting is something worth doing. People think that just because they have this idea of artistically beautiful in their heads, it is also the correct one. It’s really not.
Imagine a reader that is about 16 years old right now. When I was 16, I had seen games like Monkey Island and Doom but I had also experienced Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. Now take the guy that is 16 right now. Despite the amount of games that are at his disposal for trying out, he is constantly bombarded with League of Legends and Call of Duty advertisements. When he visits IGN, I won’t blame him for clicking on the “Top 10 sexy video game babes of 2015” and I won’t blame IGN for posting that either (since it’s the best click-bait article you can ever have).
You can see why that reader won’t ever truly appreciate indie game articles though. I am not whining here, I’m just stating the obvious. Even with the current education that gets people learning about indie companies more than ever, it still feels like we are in the same stale situation of never expanding beyond what we know. We say we are open minded and yet we can’t even accept people sharing their opinion about games. Don’t even get me started as to why video game journalism has a bad name though. Many things come into play for that and one of those is gender equality, something that women game journalists have managed to fuck up themselves actually. As much as I grew to respect them, that much they managed to make me despise them after becoming what they are now. Click-baits.
My job consists of sending 20 to 30 e-mails and then reviewing games for a month straight. You can imagine that writing that many reviews can’t be that easy, especially when you want each one to feel different than the previous one. I kind of hate myself every time I end up using the same words, but I don’t know anyone that could do any better at it considering the requirements. I enjoy it nonetheless and I do consider myself really lucky for being able to do it. That doesn’t mean it’s the most relaxing and easy job in the world though. Playing and reviewing that huge amount of games within a single week (or even day sometimes) is not easy when you want to deliver a good review that explains every aspect of the game thoroughly through words that you haven’t repeated in 10 other reviews before that. First and foremost, I have respect for the companies that have allowed me to play their game for free in order to provide some press coverage. You can’t go goofing around and writing bullcrap when it comes to serious business like that.
IGN is basically my hub for writing reviews and a few features. I was recently re-employed at smashpipe.com where I enjoy writing features in English that are very much like my vitriolic blog articles here, so you should definitely look forward to those. (Check out my first article for 2016 on smashpipe that has to do with the Oculus VR price reveal. Clicky-click-bait!)
Not every little bitch that plays a video game and has an opinion about it, should be entitled to writing things about it and be called a journalist. One should have expertise in various fields and even then should pick a genre to specialize in. I feel like I can write about anything, but very often I am proven wrong. Same thing applies to video game journalism.
So there you have it, that’s my story. It sure is a long one, but I hope you have a better understanding of what video game journalism entails. It’s more than just playing games and writing “awesome graphics, 10/10.” It’s a blessing to be working at IGN Greece and as a freelance writer. I strongly believe that if I didn’t have to attend my shitty uni study (to just get a shitty bachelor paper) I would have more time and thus would be writing way more descriptive reviews about every game I play.
I really look forward to that time.
-Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis