Most people aspire for careers involving something they genuinely love. Though, with time, this passionate flair does not always remain–a waiter, for example, likely will not go out to dinner at their workplace a few hours after their shift ends. This embodies just one of the numerous challenges a video game journalist faces. It requires a certain passion, persistence and transitional skills to maintain a healthy divide between the work and fun that video game journalists/editors are confronted with managing regularly.
It is clear in the media industry that the traditional models for magazines and other mediums is on the decline, leaving publishers and staff all over scrambling to accommodate with audiences. Trends continue to fluctuate. “If you said to me in 2005 that when you buy a video game from now on, chances are what you’re bringing home is not the finished product – i would have thought you were crazy,” Game Informer News Editor Mike Futter asserted. “But the advent of downloadable content has changed the purchase of a game,” Futter continued, in regards to gaming industry trends.
Staying up on technological and audience-related trends is a definite essential for any successful video game journalism publication, but is really the bare minimum of what today’s consumers expect. “Multi-tasking is an absolutely essential skill in this line of work, as you’re often juggling multiple projects at the same time,” Game Informer Previews Editor Matthew Miller assured. “Learning how to stay calm and focused with deadlines looming takes practice.”
Successful publications go out of their way and creatively adapt and adjust to the current preferences and demands of the audience and industry. “Even when I’m not working, I’m responsible for keeping an eye on the company…a day doesn’t go by that I’m not checking the site, keeping an eye on twitter, and checking my email, to make sure that any major stories that come in get sheered to the right place…I need to be flexible in the way that I approach work because I can’t control when news breaks.” Futter proudly explained.
The life of a video game journalist can be quite hectic and time consuming, to put it lightly. “At the 20,000 foot level, I’m responsible for setting the vision of how we cover news, and the types of things we want to cover. On any day, I write, at least twelve stories. Features and analysis pieces when warranted… I help manage interns from afar – make sure they’re getting trained up and learning how to write and conform with our style.” claimed Futter. With that said, the position also provides a number of exciting opportunities; many that only a very select few get to experience. This in turn allows Game Informer to break some pretty cool stories and provide it’s audience with the depth necessary to separate them from other magazine publications. “I spend a lot of time on the phone and email talking with developers and publishers about games we’d like to cover,” Miller stated. “For cover stories, we visit the developer and often look at a new game that hasn’t yet been seen by the public…then have detailed interviews with the developers…oftentimes the first time any of our readers will have heard about the project. That process can be very rewarding.” Miller continued.
Constant access to these exclusive interview sources can partially diminish the excitement and experience of buying a just-released game you have never played before. “They’re two very different experiences – you play games in a very different way when your analyzing in a critical sense” Futter reaffirmed.
“When I was younger, nothing would please me more than an opportunity to see a game early… Today, as a person who regularly sees games before they’re finished, and often has stories and gameplay spoiled…I have a different perspective. My favorite way to play a game these days is to wait and play it for the first time when the game is completely finished, and when I’ve never covered the game for work. That sense of discovery of the final product is really enjoyable for me; unfortunately, that rarely happens any more,” recalled Miller.
Unbeknownst to most, Game Informer magazine quietly crept its way up the circulation charts throughout these last few, technologically-dominated decades. For this, Game Informer can thank parent company, GameStop (formerly known as Funco, or Funco Land years ago). As of December 2013, over 7.6 million copies of Game Informer were estimated to have been sold each month, making it the third largest magazine in the United States based on circulation standards.