Dear Freelance Dude,
With the current economic state in mind, do you think games journalism is (still) a viable career option?
Dear Friend of Furry Virtual Critters,
The Freelance Dude
Oh wait. You probably wanted me to elaborate. Right, sure thing (*cough* *ahem*). Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it. First: the bad news.
The nation’s economy has been playing around on the murky banks of sh*t creek for a while now, taking a moment every so often to lap up those foul waters and splash some on its face for good measure. It’s certainly affecting video game publishers and the publications that cover games. Staff gets downsized. Magazines go under. Freelance budgets get the axe. The past few years have had some major ups and downs, but 2011 was a particularly rough one that saw some amazing writing folks in the industry suddenly without jobs.
IGN did a lot of fat trimming this past year. The company shuttered the excellent parent-focused gaming site What The Play early in the year. Shortly after, it laid off a bunch of editors across its properties, including some excellent people I enjoyed working with. That was hard to stomach.
IDG’s decision to suddenly pull the plug on GamePro’s print and web editions at the end of the year also put a lot of great editors out of work, and nuked a steady source of assignments for quite a few freelancers all in one fell swoop.
Don’t be surprised to see more of this in the coming years as gaming coverage evolves and struggles with its inevitable transition to digital formats. However, there’s good news too.
The video game industry is still booming and expanding. Consumers spent $25.1 billion on games and hardware in 2010 (the most current available data). Video games aren’t going anywhere, and as long as there is a steady stream of games coming out, there will be paying opportunities to cover them. In the wake of reputable outlets shutting down, the launch of promising new media ventures like Vox Games is encouraging.
Whether you’re freelancing or working on-staff on a gaming outlet, there will always be hardships and setbacks to overcome. But the changing media landscape is ripe with new opportunities as well. Is it a viable career? Absolutely, but established writers and newcomers alike will have to continue working hard to carve out new footholds.
The Freelance Dude
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