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Girl With Game

Violent Before Video Games

I was never really the kind of girl who played dollies or dress-up. While other girls were falling in love with soap stars, I was falling in love with gaming. I got lost in Hyrule. I kicked ass in Street Fighter. I had inappropriate dreams about Solid Snake, became obsessed with the gorgeously grim environments of Silent Hill and am still kind of addicted to Guitar Hero.

I’ve grown up with a particular penchant for survival horror, but I’ll turn my hand to pretty much anything. Does that mean I’m a 1337 pro gamer? Um, my kill:death ratio would suggest otherwise. But I firmly believe that you don’t have to have 1337 skills (or even know what 1337 means) to enjoy video games. To me, it’s my passion – or an obsession. Either word suffices.

In addition to running GGS.com I also founded and still run the biggest Silent Hill site/forum in the world, Silenthillheaven.com. I’m also an avid collector of video game tees and Silent Hill memorabilia.

Name-dropped in Silent Hill Book of Memories FTW.

Name-dropped in Silent Hill Book of Memories FTW. This is also why I cannot review a Silent Hill game ever again because ETHICS.

It's my intention to write more about video games on my blog, but if you're not quite getting enough gaming action here at FA.com, you can read my latest thoughts on games and gaming culture over at ggsgamer.com, or check out my daily work at IGN and/or Destructoid. You can also find my words at other places, including GamesRadar, Eurogamer, and Bloody-Disgusting, amongst others. I know. I can't believe people pay me to do this, either.

You can find me on XBL, PSN and Steam as Vixxiie. I also stream irregularly over at Twitch, although I'm trying very hard to be more regular. Honest, guv.

Hey! I wanna write about video games too! How do I do it?

Every writer's journey is different and I don't think there's one set way to succeed. What I offer here is an insight into how I got my break, but that doesn't mean other routes don't work... or this'll definitely work for you.

There are six easy steps:

  1. Read a lot.
  2. Write a lot.
  3. Read more.
  4. Write more.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Repeat.

It's stupid to say it, but seriously - you have to write AND read. A lot. Read things that interest you, but also read the things that don't. Keep mental notes of what does, and doesn't, appeal to you as a reader. Find your own voice, and don't mimic others. If you play something that you hate, why? It's as important to be able to talk passionately about what you don't like as much as you do.

Starting out, I found it very valuable to polish up my skills at an "enthusiast" (i.e. not for profit) site first. After doing that for a year or so, I set up my own games blog, and it's from there that - for want of a better term - my writing was noticed.

Other than that, I repeat: you need to read lots and, naturally, write lots, too. Keep a notebook with you to jot down any ideas you have when you're out and about. Try and play to your strengths - are you good at interviews? Is there a genre you're particularly informed about? What makes you stand out?

Be fair. Be professional. LISTEN TO YOUR EDITOR. Take critique on the chin and know that there are some amazing editors out there, but also some really shitty ones, too. Learn from them all, though. Read your work aloud - does it still flow? Does it make sense? Learn to use sentence structure and a love of language to paint a story with words. Avoid cliches, but respect them. They're cliches for a reason.

As for approaching a career? Man. I don't have a traditional career (I write part-time, as eighteen months living hand-to-mouth as a full-time freelancer was more than I could bear - I have a kid to support, world) but use the skills and links of enthusiast sites to learn from others and showcase your work. Be polite and respectful, never demand anything, but believe in yourself.

If you can, study journalism formally. I didn't (I've never taken a writing class in my entire life), so it's not always a prerequisite, but it's probably easier if you do.

A games career is easier if you live in London or Bath because it gives you access to events and PR offices, but I live in neither and manage okay. It does mean I spend a ridiculous part of my life standing on trains, though (and have to manage the associated costs, too).

You'll have to network. Again, I don't do it a lot now, but I did when I was starting out and it definitely helped. No-one likes doing it, not really, but do what I did and fake it til you make it. I got a lot of work from just being ballsy and DMing people on Twitter. (Yeah, really.) The good news, though, is the games industry is full of the most wonderful people - people passionate and enthusiastic and supportive and kind. We love what we do. Consequently, it's not hard to find people you look up to in this field. Honest. It's just up to you to make a connection and reach out.

(c) The Oatmeal (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/exposure)

(c) The Oatmeal (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/exposure)

Finally: don't give your work away to outlets who should be paying for it under the guise of "exposure". If it's a profit-making publication and they want your words for free, walk away - you're undervaluing yourself, and the rest of us, if you think it's worth it to get a foot in the door. DON'T MAKE ME STAMP ON YOUR FOOT, FRIEND.