Yeah, I'm waiting for a review game to download and thought an AMA might be sorta interesting. I've worked at various small to mid-range outlets, and have had contact with bigger ones. AMA about games "journalism" and I'll do my best to answer.

Obviously, this account is throwaway because I'm currently employed and would really love to not have that jeopardized by anything I say here.

EDIT: Proof sent to mods. Obviously don't want to say anything too obvious here.

Comments: 211 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

grizzlyking61 karma

Why does everyone in SEO hate reddit?

throwawaygamejourno44 karma

"And basically, Reddit's audience (especially r/gaming and r/games) is incredibly intellegent and can tell when someone is trying to market their own work, which they don't look too kindly on. So, you guys are all too smart for our social baiting, basically, be proud.

Of course, this can backfire sometimes. I've had stuff submitted by people completely unconnected to me or my outlet that is downvoted to oblivion because [1] /r/gaming assumed it was self-submitted. That was funny."

Answered below.

Legal-Eagle52 karma

Too intelligent...really...sounds like they haven't been on /r/gaming lately. It's just a massive circlejerk most of the time!

throwawaygamejourno8 karma

Oh god damn totally. It's a massive circle-jerk, but they can tell when your advertising to them, and think that's a bad thing for some reason.

dakho3 karma

I doubt that, people on Etsy do that all the damn time on r/gaming and they eat that shit up.

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

Maybe, this is just from unfortunate personal experiences and stories from peers and management.

Roy_G_Biv1 karma


throwawaygamejourno1 karma

That's not really the same thing, right?

Roy_G_Biv3 karma


throwawaygamejourno3 karma

Submitting an article I'm proud of to Reddit isn't the same as trying to gawk another company's product. Further, it isn't costing you any money. I can see why people find the practice shady, but that's not a good metaphor.

Roy_G_Biv2 karma


throwawaygamejourno1 karma

If you look at my Reddit and N4G account, it's a pretty equal mix of stories I like and specific stories I wrote and really am proud of. I think self-promotion is an important way to build audiences, and have stopped using it as I've gotten to work with bigger sites.

Askura8 karma

The hell are you on about. That isn't SEO.

throwawaygamejourno0 karma

All the drugs, thanks for asking.

stopmotionporn8 karma

And basically, Reddit's audience (especially r/gaming and r/games) is incredibly intellegent


Oh wait you were serious? Let me laugh even harder. HAHAHAHAHA

Kalulosu2 karma

No one said their tactics targeted clever people. Reddit's audience is just intelligent enough to counter them. From then, make a deduction.

throwawaygamejourno1 karma


Innundator39 karma

So I googled SEO and are you referring to search engine optimization? If so, I don't understand how that relates to video game reviews. If not, I still don't know what you're talking about.

throwawaygamejourno16 karma

Okay, fine, I mean SEO as the blanket term for "promoting stuff on the internet". We just always call it that, I totally forget it has a specific meaning sometimes.

michfreak45 karma

As a web developer, please don't do this with your web guys. It can really make them annoyed. You'll want to have an SEO talk, they'll get in and look at how all of the meta data is generating, research your Google results and stuff, and then you'll talk about a marketing campaign.

I mean, maybe not you specifically. Maybe your responsibilities don't include that. But if they do, then please don't call it that. It can be frustrating.

radicalearl12 karma

Agree. i don't think i've ever heard SEO used as a broad term like that.

edit: Also, how can you forget that it has a specific meaning? The acronym itself is the meaning.

dctucker11 karma

Hence, the qualifier "semi-successful"...

throwawaygamejourno4 karma

My inability to understand acronyms have kept me from achieving anything in my life.

throwawaygamejourno3 karma


throwawaygamejourno1 karma

Our web guy calls it that too! Really sorry about the misuse though.

brownboy1315 karma

How much time do you spend actually playing a game? How much of a game do you play before you make a decision?

throwawaygamejourno17 karma

I mean, this really varies with the type of game and what I'm trying to accomplish. If I'm just trying to be part of the conversation about the game, I'll play it until I have a coherent opinion.

I always finish the games I review, though. Always.*

*Unless it's an MMO. But that's a whole different question.

brownboy133 karma

So for something like skyrim, would you play through the main quest entirely? Or stop partway and make a call?

throwawaygamejourno13 karma

If I was reviewing it, I'd play through the main quest and a ton of sidequests before I'd start writing the review.

I'd probably be comfortable talking about the game on Twitter or on a podcast after a hour or so. Sometimes way less, but Skyrim starts pretty slow.

BrainsOut_EU10 karma

How many reviews did write before being published? How did you feel about doing them before having a breakthrough?

Did you give any consideration to going on your own on youtube?

throwawaygamejourno15 karma

I had a small blog that I wrote on for my own amusement. From there, I started writing stuff on Bitmob, a brilliant little crowd-sourced website Dan Hsu used to run. Using some of my better stuff from those two sites, I applied to a small outlet and got brought on in an unpaid position. From there, I've been slowly clawing upward.

Video is really cool, and I'm super interested in it. I currently go to film school, so I already have the technical interest. Sadly, I'm not good at public speaking and feel completely unsuited to hosting video reviews. Maybe in a behind-the-scenes role though, I've definitely been experimenting with video in my current job.

melted_plasteel1 karma

I used to regularly get promoted to the front of Bitmob. Loved that site.

throwawaygamejourno0 karma

Right? It got bought by Venturebeat and now it's their gaming section. So cool to see.

Team_Braniel0 karma

Without giving too much away, what film school?

PauliEffect0 karma

Without giving too much away, let me just put in the tip.

throwawaygamejourno1 karma


Torgard8 karma


throwawaygamejourno30 karma

  1. I think that, more than anything, Microsoft is failing miserably to communicate why we should accept these new limitations and how they benefit the consumer at all. Until they get specific about the powers of the cloud computing they plan to offer, people have a right to be pissed and a right to jump ship. Microsoft seems to have an incredible sense of arrogance, it honestly seems like they feel they don't have to explain their decisions to the media and certainly not to the consumer.

  2. I really feel like the Wii U's future is another Nintendo first party box. It's not powerful enough to get ports of next-gen games, and I've heard things about third party games preforming abysmally. I just don't know why that console is what it is, it feels reactionary to the iPad three years too late.

  3. I don't know. Sony's in the best position going into the next generation, but I've given up on predicting a console-generation winner after the Playstation came out above the Saturn.

wildcatsnbacon0 karma


throwawaygamejourno-1 karma

Metro is already dead.

Draiko0 karma

Do a cost analysis of how much Microsoft and their partners have to pay the BDA for licensing the discs and drives. Combine with the pressure from game studios to reduce piracy and used game sales. Add in the projected sales increases brought on by an online store that allows game/content purchases 24/7. Throw in the efficacy (or lack thereof) of gamer backlash over the last few years.

You'll gain a better understanding of why Microsoft is doing what they're doing and why they seem so arrogant. They want discs to die. They want to make sure their Xbox One users are online and have decent connections before they move away from discs. Gamer backlash historically has a low impact on actual sales.

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

Fine, but it looks remarkably bad to just about everyone when they A. don't explain it and B. are the only ones doing it.

Draiko1 karma

"We have to pay Sony a fee to use Blu Ray discs and drives. We don't want to keep doing that so we're going to kill the disc in a few years and move to download-only." wouldn't go over very well.

"We're moving away from big on-disc 40-hour games to MMOs and episodic gaming delivered in smaller downloadable chunks via the cloud" would also not go over very well.

"We're going to do once-a-day checks" has the lowest impact and highest chances of getting their foot in the door since, historically speaking, Gamer backlash against online checks almost never impacts actual sales.

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

I think it's going too this time.

Draiko2 karma

No. It won't. Just watch.

Look at how fast people went from voting EA as the worst company in America (April 2013) to throwing money at them after they announced Mirror's Edge 2 and the new Battlefront.

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

Agree to disagree...

SlimeGuy466 karma

If you aren't freelance, how often are reviews bought, because the game makers paid to advertise on your site and your company wants their business again? On a lighter note, name three of your favorite games.

throwawaygamejourno9 karma

I hear this a lot, but in my experience, it's never really happened. The closest thing I've seen is publishers pushing the embargo for smaller sites back until after the release date, in exchange for a free review copy. I've never seen anyone directly buy a review, though.

And my three favorite games would be Roller Coaster Tycoon 2/3, One Chance, and recently I've been really enjoying State of Decay.

SlimeGuy465 karma

Do the 'grunts' of the company get stuck reviewing the games that obviously suck, or is there indiscriminate distribution/a system to determine who reviews what?

throwawaygamejourno11 karma

You have no idea how goddamned many movie tie-in games I have reviewed.

grant04 karma

Tell me about the best and worst.

throwawaygamejourno15 karma

The Spiderman games have always been pretty decent, and I still love the shit out of some of the old Simpsons games.

Whoever makes Dreamworks games are not very talented or not given enough time. Because god damn those are terrible.

RangerDanger205 karma

I'm curious how much you actual enjoy gaming after making it a career. Does it become a beating like other jobs?

throwawaygamejourno5 karma

I do this as a side-gig, so it doesn't effect me much.

internet_name1 karma

What would it take for you to do it full time? Also, what percentage of reviewers make a decent living off it?

throwawaygamejourno0 karma

Enough money to sustain myself? I kinda like having it be a side-gig though.

Team_Braniel3 karma

I did movie reviews for a local news station, while doing it I found myself not rating the movies but rather comparing them with other films to help them find the right audience.

Do you think this approach could be applied to games instead of a numerical or boolean type rating system?

For example: Shadow Complex on Xbox live will appeal greatly to fans of Metroid/Vania style games but may not interest someone looking for a side scrolling call of duty.

throwawaygamejourno0 karma

I mean, it depends on what your trying to acomplish. If you want to "critique" something, that should be your opinion. If your doing a consumer reports type review, direct comparisons can help.

mysterybkk3 karma

proof please.

and why does everyone in SEO hate reddit?

throwawaygamejourno8 karma

I sent proof to mods, if you can come up with a public verification that won't completely reveal my identity I'm all ears.

And basically, Reddit's audience (especially r/gaming and r/games) is incredibly intellegent and can tell when someone is trying to market their own work, which they don't look too kindly on. So, you guys are all too smart for our social baiting, basically, be proud.

Of course, this can backfire sometimes. I've had stuff submitted by people completely unconnected to me or my outlet that is downvoted to oblivion because /r/gaming assumed it was self-submitted. That was funny.

ReboZooty55 karma

Reddit's audience (especially r/gaming and r/games) is incredibly intellegent

throwawaygamejourno3 karma

They're receptacle to bullshit at least. Maybe intelligent is a stretch.

CMON_GOB3 karma


throwawaygamejourno5 karma

Don't be hyperbolic, and to that point don't be too critical. Formulate an opinion before writing. Detach yourself from any expectations, attachments to the developer, or preview coverage. Don't ever write to a score. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

kelter202 karma

How much time are you given to write a review for a game? Like from the game being put in your hands to a full written review in your editor's hands? Or does that kind of thing depend on the game?

throwawaygamejourno4 karma

It varies. For example, reviewers got Last of Us way before it came out, but everyone had to buy that shitty Star Trek game. It depends on the embargo date, as well as the publishers confidence in their product. Generally we have about a week's lead-time.

kelter206 karma

That doesn't seem like a very long time for something massive like Skyrim or Fallout, but I suppose if your job is literally to play video games and write about them, a week is plenty of time if you play 8 hours a day.

throwawaygamejourno9 karma

Bethesda is usually nice with review copies. They don't reply to my Prey 2 review requests for whatever reason, though...

Spikemaw3 karma

PREY 2????? Oh shit, I loved the hell out of Prey, but almost no one even knows it exists... It was really pioneering, using semi-portal tech before Portal, gravity switching, etc. I'd be looking for a review copy of that too.

hagge2 karma

Favorite games information channel for you? Ie where do you look for new games you want to play non-professionally?

I haven't had time to play much games the last 1.5 years, what gems have I missed?

Thanks :)

throwawaygamejourno8 karma

I love, LOVE Giant Bomb. Funniest and most intelligent group of critics covering any medium in my opinion. So worth the subscription I pay for premium.

And off the top of my head, some must-plays you missed are Bioshock: Infinite, Last of Us, State of Decay, Hotline Miami, The Walking Dead, Far Cry 3, and Papers Please. Have fun catching up!

internetpizza1 karma

yessss giant bomb owns

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

This guy knows the deal

John_Walker1 karma

When he says the walking dead, he means the decision based arcade game. For the love of god, don't buy that Dixon bros fps

throwawaygamejourno1 karma


Khalku1 karma

What does premium do?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

Extra videos, but I mostly do it because I want to support them directly.

nprovein2 karma

Do you think Ubuntu/Linux will ever become a strong contender in the gaming segment?

throwawaygamejourno3 karma

It depends on what this Steambox ends up being. If anyone can make Linux relevant, it's Valve.

BrainsOut_EU2 karma

How big sense of a community is there in your branch? Are people at major outlets or like Angry Joe very popular among you?

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

We're definitely fans of some outlets more than others. I in particular really like the work of Giant Bomb, Polygon (when they aren't making documentaries about how awesome they are), and Rev3Games. Angry Joe is kinda a dick though.

BrainsOut_EU1 karma

I kinda suspected that, do you have some stories about him?

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

I've never personally met him, but I've heard stories about him being pretty rude to people. He certainly comes off that way in videos. I dunno, the whole "I'M ANGRY" schtick seems to work with very few people (Yatzhe and Jim Sterling pull it off pretty well)

notnowlewis2 karma

I'm an indie developer with a game in development. When it's ready, what's the best way to get guys like you to review it?

throwawaygamejourno4 karma

Honestly, hit us up on Twitter. I'd definitely respond. If that fails, look for the outlet's "tips" email address and send info there. Good luck with your game!

Bonesnapcall1 karma

When you request a review copy, do they actually check out who you are or do some companies just send them out to whoever asks?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

I dunno, my editors generally handle that stuff. You need to have some credentials, though, I'd imagine.

fbenn71 karma

What's your pay?

throwawaygamejourno3 karma

Currently, it's by CPM. So, veryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryvery little.

I don't think I said very enough times.

preske4 karma

so where does the successful come in to play then?

throwawaygamejourno15 karma

I get paid (no matter how tiny) to write about my favorite hobby. And I get video games before anyone else. I see it as pretty successful.

throwawaygamejourno7 karma

It's a side-gig, too, so I don't worry about money all that much. Just having fun.

metroknome1 karma

Why are games for Wii never reviewed in most of the mainstream print mags, like Stuff and T3, Home Theater, Sound & Vision, you know, like the gadget/entertainment type mags. I realize the console is getting pretty old, but even before Wii U I don't think I ever saw a review for a Wii game.

throwawaygamejourno7 karma

I mean, Home Theater magazine doesn't really traditionally cover video games, right? Lots of gaming sites like IGN, Gamespot, and Leviathyn still cover Wii games, so maybe check them out?

metroknome4 karma

That's true. I'm a casual gamer, and I only ever think about buying a new game if I see an item in a magazine I usually read, or happen to be in an electronics store.

Is it because Wii is not really a "serious" gaming console?

throwawaygamejourno6 karma

Well, do these magazines typically cover games? Is the Wii particularly excluded?

DangerousPuhson1 karma

Ok, for a person who wants to get a start in gaming journalism: what's step-1 for most people in the business (other than "play a lot of games)?

Start a blog? Apply at a games review website through their "jobs" section? Write a shit-ton of FAQs for Review random shit on Youtube?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

Start a blog/Youtube channel/Twitch stream/Carrier pigeon periodical. Basically, just start doing it.

VideoGameRescue-Kevi1 karma

I currently do video reviews and have been working incredibly hard to have my own style, which is now a very technical review (I dig incredibly deep in to the games I review. Not saying anybody else doesn't, but saying that is my style).

What tips/suggestions would you have for a person like me who is starting out, but wants to get noticed?

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

Tell your friends. Submit your stuff to Reddit, N4G, and other sites like it. Tag your stuff on Youtube. The dirty little secret is that quality doesn't always get discovered, so you have to promote it a little bit.

thecrazydemoman1 karma

For someone new to the idea, is there any outlets that take casual reviewr submissions, and what sort of process is involved in getting to a point where the game developers publishers are willing to send you a copy.

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

The gaming part of Venturebeat takes user submissions, so maybe trying getting prolific on there? A lot of smaller start-up sites post postings on Video Game Journalism Jobs, which is an awesome resource. Good luck!

barrackaobama1 karma

I'm a 17 year old, who fucked up in school and got shitty grades for a while, and I'm looking to be a journalist. I know this is going to be the field I want to go into. I'm not sure if it's going to be in politics, gaming, or just general. What do you think the best majors/minors would be for me to get into journalism? I know journalism would be the most obvious major but is there anything else I should maybe do?

p.s: thanks for doing this ama!

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

If you want to get into gaming journalism, get experience with video hosting and/or production and editing. That's really where everything is moving toward. Just get out there and start doing stuff, even if it's bad you gain more experience. Good luck!

countertrolling1 karma

If you could decide for yourself, would you put a score at the end of a review? If yes, what kind (number, good-bad, etc.)?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

I really like letter grades ala The AV Club and the broader choice they allow. I'd probably use that if I had the choice, but my current site uses a ten point scale.

GoLightLady1 karma

Hey, just want to say a big thank you for actually answering questions. Good responses and many of them. Great AMA, even if I don't understand some of the topics you discuss. :)

throwawaygamejourno2 karma

Sure! It's fun!

frotc9141 karma

  1. Do you see a change in the general console market coming with the XBone? Will Microsoft continue to focus on the "multimedia" aspect of having a console?

  2. Do you see that focus as being viable long term? Will XB eventually get squeezed out as gamers abandon the platform and other consoles and people realize they don't need a "multimedia" console? Or does XB have enough cache to become a powerhouse in both respects?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

The Xbox One seems like a really weird mix of far-future and 2009. I don't think the cable box hook-ins are going to be important as less and less people use cable going forward. Meanwhile, I can see a future where always-online works, just not now. I'm really curious to see how consumers respond to it.

ampap1 karma

How did you get your first job in the industry?

I'm wondering because I'd like to do the same. I'm in college getting a degree in broadcast journalism, and I'm wondering what most people in the industry have as their major?

throwawaygamejourno1 karma

I just started amassing writing samples. If you have a career in broadcast journalism, try starting a Youtube channel or Twitch stream. Everything is going toward video anyway, so you should have a pretty big advantage with that degree.

[deleted]0 karma


throwawaygamejourno2 karma

Proof sent to mods. Thanks for the reminder, robot.

rflyon0 karma


throwawaygamejourno3 karma

Everyone's a critic...

brownboy13-3 karma

Still gonna need some proof.

throwawaygamejourno3 karma

Proof sent to mods!

brownboy132 karma

And verified. Thanks.

throwawaygamejourno3 karma

No problem, man!