|Oh, Fox News. You silly.|
Now I'm on this same path. And, sadly, there's a better chance I won't make it because of that seemingly insurmountable challenge of breaking away from the pack. Being a leader instead of playing follow the leader. But ways exist to worm ahead of the competition. That motivation is the driving force behind this guide.
Although I don't have any professional writing experience, I've done my fair share of tireless research and applied practical thinking to create this handy guide for anyone aspiring to enter games writing. Enjoy.
Establishing and maintaining a reputation has become one of the most daunting tasks since the Internet gained prominence. It has that uncanny sense of filtering out the stupid and useless to make way for productive content, and in the freelancing business, the best writers. Millions of blogs exist out there today, which often leads to the destruction of some great sites. Marking a path through the clutter is the first method to making it professionally -- starting a blog.
By creating your own little piece of digital paradise, you can essentially write anything you want. Blogging is perhaps the truest form of limitless creativity online, and it's both free and easily accessible. However, blogging has boundaries in regards to exposure: eventually you'll build an audience and maybe catch the eye of the IGN staff, but this works adversely because it takes times to build that audience. Nothing is instant and success doesn't happen overnight. On my personal blog, Volatile Mode, it took the better part of a year before I saw respectable numbers.
On the other hand, there's the option of writing for a volunteer site. Contributing your time and energy to a non-paying gig may seem demoralizing, and that's why I chose the blogging route. Though, ideally, the site of your choosing already has established its credibility and has a solid following. Additionally, the best prospects have E3 press passes and the means to get there. Given the right circumstances, they'll happily send you along, and the Staples Center in June is a hotbed for writing talent. And, more importantly, several opportunities to network. Be flashy, hand out business cards; whatever it takes to attract attention.
Third, and most annoyingly to actual professionals, is emailing them and asking. This method guarantees direct contact, but the likelihood of them responding isn't good. I'm assuming they receive thousands of messages daily, thus using creativity in the subject line is essential. The title of your email can be as simple as "I need your help", or more eloquently like "If you don't read this email someone you know will get hurt". (I don't advise actually using that.) Keep the message short but include your credentials and links to your work, and you may just get lucky.
Lastly, there's the freelancing route. E-magazines like The Escapist pay heartily for submissions each issue, though only exceptional ideas with great pitches earn consideration. This works partly to familiarize yourself with what it takes to make it, but also works to getting your name out to the loyal readership. Every query letter gets a response and they may just give you the courtesy of explaining why your idea doesn't work.
The games journalism industry is incredibly dynamic, and that dynamism will continue to grow alongside the business. As video games mature and reach a mass audience, more writers will be needed to articulately communicate what's happening, and video game coverage could earn a sense of legitimacy. Or I'm fooling myself and the future looks as dire as ever. But these four ways are, for argument's sake, the best to achieving your dream.