Thinking of Getting Back into Gaming Journalism

Gaming graphic design concept by Maciej Duraj
Self-created graphic design

Gaming journalism is a field I was always interested in, but never got into for a number of reasons. For one, I assumed the pay was low due to the supply of writers or journalists wanting to write about their hobby and the low returns in getting into such coverage. However, I have come to realize that gaming is much more than the low hanging fruit of mobile app news and reviews I used to contribute to. In fact, it is a billion-dollar industry and some of the top sites like IGN or Polygon attract millions of readers.

I recently saw an ad for a writing gig at a gaming media, which I finally decided to apply for after like five days:

I also have noticed that here in Warsaw, where I am currently living, some positions have opened up for both a game tester or debugger and for a translator of in-game text, such as dialog. I would love to get involved with these roles as well even though I would prefer to create fresh and unique content myself. Thus, I applied here as well with this company called Testronic.

Even if I do not land any of these positions, I may start to apply across various gaming media and sites in the future. I recently purchased a WiiU and am about to purchase a Playstation 4. I have a nice HDTV at home and want to make good use of it. I also own two 3DS systems (an old-school original and a Mario-edition new 3DS), a gaming PC with both emulators and a large library of native PC games, a Wii with more than 35 games, and a Dreamcast with my favourite series of all time marking its home and this is none other than the Shenmue games.

I do realize that I am more of a retro gamer than a modern gamer and am not as hardcore as some others are when it comes to this hobby or endeavour, i.e. gaming. However, I am a lifelong gamer who has been following gaming news for more than 20 years, have an active steam collection of more than 50 games and counting, have various systems under my belt and do game at least once a day.

Do not get me wrong, I do not mind covering other tech news and am open to other opportunities as well. Translations and editing of online text like website content is really my specialty and bread and butter, particularly from badly edited English (say by a company in a non English-speaking country) or from Polish to English, which I am both native at.

I do like to do journalism though and go in-depth into stories with a different angle of coverage. I like to delve into a story not covered a certain way by asking questions other reporters or media channels did not. Gaming can be great for this as each development and development studio really has a story worth telling and I would say many stories or anecdotes out of that main story.

A story I was thinking of doing is the idea that there is still a place for portable game systems that are pocketable, namely the 3DS, within a world filled with Switches, tablets like the iPad (which I also own and use for gaming), and laptops. I personally usually carry a handbag with me everywhere anyway. Thus, I enjoy the form factor of a tablet or a Switch.

However, there are times I like to have a pocketable device like the 3DS and an example of this is when I go on jogs or do stair runs. I like to get tired from doing say 5 sets of stair runs, then when I rest I sit down at an outdoor bench and play some Mario 3D Land, resuming my run after a while. Having a pocketable device is great for this as I really do not enjoy running with a backpack or carry-on bag on me and want to have to readjust the strap periodically.

I actually pitched this story to Polygon before or the idea of doing something like great uses for the 3DS and Vita today in a world that forgot about the dedicated handheld. However, they rejected it.

With all of that said, I am also continuing to work on my graphic design skills and love inserting such work into stories when I get a chance. I also like to cover events and as you can see from this coverage below, I have covered gaming events in-depth and would love to continue doing so when I get a chance. I interviewed many developers and got a first-hand scoop on many titles during this past event like “State of Mind” that many of us now play regularly before these games were even released.

If you click the story above, you will see all of my own multimedia (including this graphic above) as I interviewed developers, shot video of upcoming titles, took pictures of the event, etc. all using my iPad Pro. I pitched the story for a while to various gaming media, but they all seemed to already have had people at the event or were not interested. Thus, I published it here on this site as an example of the type of coverage I can provide.

Since that time, I also have written various game reviews for Touch Arcade, which is currently the largest mobile gaming site on the Internet. Here are some of these reviews:

Touch Arcade was a good experience, but their editing process was strange. They kept trying to influence or change my views of games and get me to change my scores. It is possible that they were sponsored by some of these mobile game devs to curb their reviews particular ways, but this may just be a hunch. Either that, or they wanted to cave into PR or complaints because I gave this game 2.5 stars instead of 4-5, like they assumed I would. The editors also felt they had to get their two cents in even with very subjective remarks and suggest changes to my writing that went against my style and tone.

Like I said, however, Touch Arcade was a great experience and I have been following their site and podcast for years. I also used to write for other app sites, such as AppAdvice and SlideToPlay. Here is my former AppAdvice profile in case you are curious about some examples of my news coverage related to mobile gaming. This was done under my American name before I moved to Poland and recently after graduating Chico State with a journalism BA:

As you see in my TouchArcade reviews, I used both my real name of Maciej Duraj and my former byline name and Americanized name of Mike Lata, but one is in parenthesis. My first name was different due to cultural and pronounciation differences in the U.S. growing up as a kid (a decision someone else made for this, which I ran with) and my last name was legally changed here in Poland due to family reasons.

To sum it up, I would love to get into a bigger gaming publication like Eurogamer or Polygon or even GVMERS, as the video above shows them looking for writers, but I am open to various endeavours and opportunities. I would not mind even doing some game script writing in the future or work with an actual indy development studio. I have started to work on some script ideas for games before, as you can see here:

I have also covered the nascent media when it comes to gaming known as virtual reality. Here is an example of my coverage of this medium full of immense potential:

I love tech and gaming in particular. It is a medium that is full of artistic flair with each development house being able to reach an audience in a different way. It offers creativity that is unmatched across other media. It has also surpassed (not just in the UK mind the source above) the music and film industry with scope and overall revenue. Whether I land this recent game writing or other high-profile positions, I hope to continue working with gaming-related media and game studios in the future.

img_2137-1
          My Living Room Set-Up

I have also been getting more and more involved with the Epic Store due to how they give out free games periodically. And these games are no slouches either, but some heavy hitters, particularly in the platforming and indy genres. I am playing “The Messenger” as well as “Axiom Verge” right now on my PC, both of which I picked up for free.

I enjoy indy and artistic games because they remind me of the games I grew up in the 1990s with the Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis / Amiga era that later turned into the N64 / PSX generation. They also are games playable across a variety of systems from older consoles to my Macbook Air I have on me often as well as an iPad and portables such as the 3DS. However, there is a time and place for everything and I do enjoy a AAA first-person shooter from time to time as well.

By the way, to those that never took the plunge to the underrated WiiU and are thinking about getting one, do it now as the price is only around $100 online. To those who own one already and it is collecting dust and you have not tried “Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze” yet, do it and you will not regret it. This is bar none, the greatest 2.5D or 2D platformer I have ever played.

Also of note: as I wrote this blog post I decided to go back to some of my previous graphic design work related to game design and came up with this:

My own work or interpretation of a gaming concept

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