I read this article yesterday and was going to “review” it, but it’s just too good. If you love the concept of storytelling and exceptional writing in video games, you have to go read Susan O’Connor’s take on it. Who cares about Susan O’Connor? Oh, I dunno, she wrote some of the best video game plots of the past 10 years including Tomb Raider, Far Cry 2, and BioShock. She also headed up the Games Writers Conference. So yeah. READ IT. Then come back and talk to me about it 😀
Here’s the thing: I’d love to write about the great games I played at PAX, but I’m too busy implementing the awesome knowledge I got at PAX. For example, I’ve applied to about a billion jobs tonight. That may or may not be hyperbole. The point is, I didn’t review games like I was supposed to tonight because I’m trying to do what all the geniuses at PAX panels told me to do. Here’s what they told me, that I am now going to share with you all:
- First I went to the Destructoid panel on Friday morning. I had zero idea of what to expect, but things started off on the right foot when a Destructoid employee randomly handed me a Razer Taipan mouse. Sweet! I’m now an insta-fan. The biggest piece of advice I got was to post like crazy on sites internal blogging systems. For example, I blogged a lot on that IGN system when I was trying to get to E3, but apparently I shouldn’t have stopped. Sites that have internal bloggers like to hire from that pool. I didn’t get a chance to ask if they wanted original content or if it didn’t matter, but because I’ve already invested money and time into this blog, I’m going to double post from here to IGN to Destructoid to BitMob, to any other place I can find.
- I went to what was called the PC Gamer Mega Panel as well that had Notch, Dean Hall, Sean Vanaman, a guy I should know who is a big wig with that new XCOM game coming out, and another guy I should REALLY know because he was big time involved with Bastion at SuperGiant games. Man, ultimate fail with names right now. Anyway, it was mainly just fascinating to hear these guys talk about storytelling in video games (the subject of the panel), primarily because they had two true developer-created stories in The Walking Dead and Bastion, and XCOM to a certain extent, but then it was juxtaposed against the player-created worlds of DayZ and Minecraft. Just really incredible to listen to and contemplate. Put that in your brain basket and chew on it for awhile. Leave comments with awesome insights. One great insight in my notes that I wrote down was “Create real loss in games,” ala DayZ. Another post with more thoughts on this forthcoming.
- Friday night I got the best advice of my life from Chris Kohler, from Wired. I asked the panel if I should give up my writing job because it wasn’t in video games, or keep it because it was writing, and the advice didn’t exactly match my question. But one of the panelists mentioned that her fiance just happened to be a gaming journalist and I could talk to him afterwards, and of course I did that. So I got to ask him my question and he said “Well if you really don’t care where you end up, script writing or journalism [which I don’t] then you should just get into the industry by any means then work your way towards writing.” BOOM. DONE, CHRIS KOHLER. Finally a definite answer to something I’ve been puzzling over for months now. So, I’ve been applying to all kinds of jobs tonight. Mainly SEO, writing, and PR stuff, things that I think I would still enjoy doing if I were actually hired and have a minute amount of experience in, but man . . . very time consuming. Also, it should be noted that that is not an absolute direct quote from Chris Kohler. That was the gist of what he said to me, personally. I don’t want to get in trouble with Chris Kohler for a misquote or something. Chris Kohler.
Saturday’s panels were less helpful to me, but somethings that might help you:
- These are great tools to use to start actually making games with little to no programming knowledge: Construct 2, Game Salad, Game Maker, Unity. Even though the panelists of the “Breaking into the Industry” panel weren’t writers, many of them started making games on their own to then work their way into a company and to get where they wanted.
- The number one advice in the “How Not to Write a Game Review” panel was to be specific and to not use cliches. For example, don’t say something was good or bad, but make sure you mention specifics and if you reference a past game or different game in comparison, you gotta explain that to. THIS was the panel that I got Evan Lahti’s card from PCGamer.com. BOOM. Small victory.
Long. Lots of text. Nothing to funny or exciting. But I know the majority of anyone reading this blog post is someone who like me is blogging for fun and trying to get somewhere. So I thought maybe I could let you benefit from my experiences. To close, I’ll share the inspiring story from Niero Gonzalez, founder of Destructoid, that I hadn’t heard before.
He started a a gaming blog all on his own. He would get up early to schedule blog posts about gaming news throughout his day while he was at his day job, he would then sneak onto his blog to post and write during his day job, and then he would stay up late to write more content to auto-post the next day while he was at work. In his first year, he published 2,000 blog posts. And when he saw PAX was coming up, he called to see how he could get there with a media badge and they said all he had to do was show them his professional website. So with his minimal knowledge of web design, he made his site look as professional as he could, PAX bought it, and he got a media badge to go cover his first PAX. He posted mostly humor, and just about anything he could find in his first year, and that’s how he started his following.
It was kind of intimidating to hear that story, to be honest, but I also found it inspiring. He did it, guys. We can too. It’ll be really hard, but we can. I don’t think that’s naivete, I think it’s hope and hard work. My goal, for the record here, so I can be held accountable to strangers on the internet, is to make it to PAX with a difference badge next year, whether as an exhibitor because I helped write and develop a game or as a media representative because I’m writing for an outlet, or my own blog that I tricked them into thinking was real. I’m not sure how, at the moment, but next year I’m going to PAX as more than an attendee. And you can too!
Two posts in one day? She’s gone mad!
Quite the contrary. I’ve gone focused. And this comes and goes, so who’s to say how long this bout will last but I just applied for a game writer position with a company and I think the mix of it being near my hometown (which I’m quite desperate to get back to) and it being a job listing that didn’t explicitly state that I need five years of game writing experience on AAA titles only has me wanting this one really bad. So bad that I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a more passionate cover letter. It may be over the top, I’m having my personal editor check it out for me (thanks, brother) before I do anything drastic, like submit a first draft, but I figured this raw passion should be remembered somewhere.
I figured the first paragraph had to address some of the specific skills they mention that I believe fall under my particular skill set and previous work experience (like copy writing and editing). Everything after that I thought “what could I write that would make me want to hire me? I would want to see someone who wants this so bad, they’d do anything.” So that’s what I wrote.
I imagine your ideal candidate for this position would be someone with extensive experience in the gaming industry. Luckily, I am just that candidate. I landed on Zebes along with Samus when I played the original Metroid on my brother’s Nintendo Entertainment System. I hunted ducks and stomped goombas and got a sword from an old man because it was too dangerous to go alone. As the years progressed, I lost some rings to Dr. Robotnik, picked up some upgrades from Dr. Light, and I even traveled through time with Crono, Marle, and Lucca. I’ve raced karts, memorized the Konami code, assassinated Templars, and I even defeated some zerg.
I have learned from the best video game writers because I have played some of the best video game narratives. Red Dead Redemption, Ocarina of Time, Portal, and the list could go on and on. I took creative writing courses in college and I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. Given my deep interest and immersion in video games, fiction, and constant writing of my own, I am positive that I can make a powerful contribution to your writing staff.
The closing paragraph went on to say that I’m trying to relocate, not just willing to, and that they should call me because I’m the best, etc. etc. I’ve written a few other cover letters like this, where I try to punch it up with humor and video game references to show that I’m a passionate gamer, not just another schlup looking for a job. But this one felt different somehow. I don’t think I was really trying to be funny, I think it was one of the few times I was trying to yell through paper, without caps or bold or italics or underline or exclamation marks. I am a gamer, I am a real gamer, I have played real games, and I unabashedly say that I love them so much. Let me love what I do everyday. Please.
If one of you doesn’t get me a job soon, you’re just gonna keep getting more posts like this. Ha, see how I put this on you now? Suckers.