Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? Are you someone who buys the latest console when it’s out, hooking it up online and playing with friends? Can you recite the spec differences between a PlayStation and an Xbox?
If the answer to these questions is “yes” and you also have a knack for writing, then you may want to consider working as a video game journalist. Video game journalism jobs are available both for those looking to make a full-time career switch and freelance writers interested in working part-time to make some extra money.
Despite the popularity of video games, many freelancers aren’t as aware of the availability of video game writing jobs as compared to, say, writing opportunities in the financial industry. But they’re out there if you know where to look. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about video game journalism jobs so that you can determine whether it’s a viable gig worth pursuing.
What Is Video Game Journalism?
Video game journalism is a subsection of journalism focused explicitly on the gaming industry. Video game journalism involves aspects such as reporting on new releases and providing game reviews. Writing about the video game industry typically consists of three principles:
- Revealing — Announcing breaking gaming news
- Previewing — Providing a first-hand look at new releases
- Reviewing — Offering your opinions about a new release
Several years ago, writing jobs were only offered by media companies. You’d have to be a full-fledged games journalist if you wished to make it in the industry, committing to work for one company as a staff writer.
Now, thanks to the rise of the internet, new jobs are more accessible than ever. Outlets like online publications, blogs, and social media have made it possible for practically anyone to work as a journalist, specializing in their subject of choice.
How Much Can Video Game Journalists Make?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average video game journalism job pays $48,916 per year. Salaries can range anywhere between $16,500 and $126,50. This is a bit under the average pay for freelance writers, which Glassdoor says is $52,807 per year.
Much of your earnings as a video game journalist will depend on how much work you produce. Experienced full-time journalists could potentially make more than six figures working in the industry. On the other hand, someone looking to write part-time should expect to receive around $15,000-$20,000 per year.
Instead of an hourly rate, as a freelancer, you may earn per piece. Obviously the more you write, the more you’ll earn. So, in that sense, you’re in control of your earnings.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Work as a Journalist?
The requirements to start writing as a video game journalist are not nearly as stringent as they would be if you were working as a journalist for The New York Times.
In fact, you technically don’t need any formal schooling or training to become a video game journalist. This is especially the case if you’re working as a freelancer. You’ll probably need to provide writing samples and a portfolio of your work, but you won’t need to show that you graduated from college.
However, if you’re working with large companies, your employer may want you to have a bachelor’s degree in English or a similar field. These requirements are often limited to full-time positions, though, so if you’re not interested in a full-time role, you may not need to worry as much about the educational requirements.
Even if a degree isn’t required, you may want to consider taking an online training program or securing a certificate to help boost your standing. These courses will not only make you more attractive to hiring managers, but they should also improve your writing skills as well. Many colleges offer journalism certificates that could help boost your career.
A course or two could be especially beneficial if you are completely new to the industry. For instance, you may be well-versed and knowledgeable when it comes to video games, but you may need to learn more about writing.
The cost can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. Research your options, keeping in mind that they can pay dividends down the road in terms of your marketability. And don’t forget — these professional development courses are tax write-offs that could reduce your taxable income.
The Pros and Cons of Video Game Journalism Jobs
Wondering whether a career as a video game journalist is worth it? Consider some of these pros and cons.
What makes video journalism jobs so unique? Below are some of the most prominent benefits that you’ll find when working as a video game journalist.
Flexibility in Your Schedule
This may not be the case as much if you work as a full-time company employee. But if you are freelancing, then one of the things that will stand out the most is the flexibility that you’ll have in your schedule.
You can adjust your schedule so you can work from wherever you want, whenever you want — so long as you complete the work on time. Have a doctor’s appointment in the morning? No problem. Going on a cross-country plane trip? Feel free to keep working.
Work in an Exciting Industry
Another perk about video game journalism is the fact that you work in such a fun industry. As a video game enthusiast, you’ll find yourself writing about what you already know and love.
You’ll also communicate with other like-minded individuals who share your passion for video games. You may find yourself afforded the opportunity to attend networking events and conferences as well. What better way to “nerd out” on your favorite topic?
Preview and Review Games
Another noteworthy perk of video game journalism is the fact that you’ll have access to tons of games. Developers may send you games ahead of time so that you can preview and review them. This means that you’ll not only gain access to products before they’re available, but you’ll also get to play them for a living.
Although working as a video game journalist may seem incredibly exciting, there are a few challenges you might run into.
One of the fundamental aspects of journalism is fair, unbiased reporting. However, working as a video game journalist may not afford you such luxuries. Game publishers will often offer advertising revenue or entertainment in return for a favorable review.
As a result, you may find yourself pulled in various directions. You’ll need to learn how to say no to vendors so that you can write an unbiased review. Or you’ll need to indicate at the beginning of your article that you received free products in exchange for the review, which could diminish your credibility.
Although we’ve discussed that the average pay for a video game journalist is reasonable, you won’t make this when first starting out. There is high competition in the journalism industry, and you may find yourself working for below market value as you build your network and your portfolio.
As time goes on and you establish credibility, you may be able to earn more. But it takes time to find stable, high-paying work.
Lack of Job Stability
Journalism, as a whole, can be a volatile industry. This is even more so the case with niche industries like video gaming, where publications may be more heavily impacted by fluctuations in market demand and therefore more likely to fold. Working as a video game journalist could be fun and net you a lot of exposure, but it could also be very unstable. This could be the case for both freelancers and full-time workers.
Where to Find Video Game Journalism Jobs
If you feel that you’re ready to start working as a video game journalist, there are a few places you can begin looking for jobs. First, you can start by thinking about your favorite video game publications and checking out their job postings.
For example, IGN is a popular site for game news. The company maintains a career page that you can reference for potential journalism jobs.
You can also check out general sites like ZipRecruiter for comprehensive listings of available writing jobs in the video game industry. Finally, there are industry-specific job posting boards like gamejournalismjobs.com that also compile potential openings.
Still Interested in Video Game Journalism?
If you love video games and writing, then there may be no better job than working as a video game journalist. Video game journalism has grown over the past couple of years, and it’s now possible for you to find both part-time and full-time jobs.
As exciting as it can be to write about video games, make sure you consider the challenges. The industry can be tough, and it may take a while before you earn what you’re worth. You should also expect volatility in the industry and know that competition is fierce.
However, if you’re just looking to earn a bit of extra money from a side hustle, then you may not have to worry about these issues as much. If you’re ready to write about what you love, start searching online to find a video game journalism job that’s right for you.