So you want to write about video games? You’ve played them since you were five, know all the different suit iterations of Mario and his plumber brother Luigi and have beaten every Final Fantasy since they first started appearing 20 years ago. You consider yourself a video game nerd and consider that enough to write about the industry and the games thereof. I thought the same thing right off the bat and set to writing dozens of articles about all the things I thought were really cool in the industry. But, you have to remember a few very important things when this is how you set out to write. You’re only one person and no one is paying you to write reviews…yet.
There is a definite market for it, for the writing of video game reviews, right along with movies and music. But, the reality is that if you aren’t already writing for an established publication or have written a dozen or more full featured reviews of your own, you’re probably not going to find the audience you’re looking for at this point.
So, what do you do if you absolutely must be the next big video game writer? Start small, and don’t think too highly of your own opinion. And most of all, don’t expect your articles to find some massive audience right off the bat. It’s a small industry with a limited number of search terms. You won’t reach the top of that pile for a little while yet.
You will want to write those reviews, but make sure you’re fully prepared to do so. Don’t pick a game you beat six months ago and don’t remember all the details of to write about. Either start retro by writing nostalgia pieces about your favorites as a child, games you couldn’t forget the details of if you tried, or pick a brand new game and write a review as you play it. Don’t take the process for granted either. It takes a while to write a full featured video game review. Check Gamespot or IGN. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Each of their major feature reviews is usually a good 2000-3000 words. Aim for that if you can (unless you’re reviewing a bad game).
Throw in some other feature ideas while you write your reviews. Keep in mind, this approach works with all media formats. If you’re reviewing films or albums, don’t just review stuff. Mix it up with features and editorials and commentaries. It shows a range of thinking and overall appreciation for the medium that a single review never could. Write histories of franchises or characters. Do features on industry insiders. Try and get an email interview with a game developer. Think of things that you don’t normally see when you surf the game review websites and try to write something different. I wrote a few A-Z guides that simply took 26 common terms from a franchise or genre and made them into a humorous series of short quips. It was fun and fairly easy and got a lot of exposure.
Look through the gaming websites too and see what kinds of articles and features the editors there are writing. Never steal their ideas, but look at what people are reading (because they wouldn’t publish it if they didn’t think there would be readership). These are the kinds of ideas you should be working with. You’ll want to think outside the traditional reviewing box and try to create a niche for yourself. That said, also try to focus on a particular arena of modern gaming. Pick a single console and focus on games and news from that arena more than others. Handheld gaming, the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, or even retro gaming in general. But, don’t try to write about everything (something I did, and found watered down my articles substantially) or your articles will be too general and non-specific to attract any one single audience.