Recent Develop(ments)

For those not in the know, I started writing for Develop about two months ago. For a mere 3-5 articles a day I am paid in cash and exotic titles like: “North American Correspondent”, and “Lord of Dance”. I’m not actually called the second one yet, but don’t worry, we’ll get around to it.

I think it’s time I wrote a bit about how I got the job. You know, in case you wanted to follow in my glorious footsteps or, more likely, are confused as to how someone as completely unqualified as I got into a very competitive position.

It started, like many decisions, with beer. I was sipping a pint in my local pub when I noticed a call for U.S. writers. The listing was for Develop- miles out of my league- but, strong with the dutch courage, I hastily assembled a resumè, and sent it in. Mind you, this was back in December, and I had yet to be published anywhere, aside from this blog and some ghostwriting stuff. It was a long shot.

To my great suprise, I got a response pretty quickly. I sent a thank-you letter, and started a brief e-mail conversation with Rob Crossley, Develop’s online editor. Without knowing it, I had stumbled on the first tenet of journalism: persistence. Simply by being a bother, I had worked my way into the final running for the postition as U.S. correspondent.

As time wore on, I was sure I’d been left out of the running. In the middle of January, I still hadn’t heard back. So I sent another e-mail, and mentioned I’d gotten published, and thanked Rob for his encouragement. This one changed everything. As it turns out, they’d lost the applications when the e-mail server was reset. This meant resubmitting our applications, and in the meantime, my resumè had gotten stronger.

Realizing I had a chance, I made the necessary changes. I may very well have been the first to send my info in. I also decided to be sporting about it and re-tweet the information to my fellow applicants. In a few weeks, I got the news: I had the job.

The basic lesson here is that if you want to write for a living, start writing now. Even without being published, I had already assembled a decent bit of writing here at Thinkings. This was crucial. You aren’t going to get a paid position or freelance gig without some evidence that you are a writer. Some places ask for a writing sample specifically penned for your application. This does not mean that they won’t look at other samples if you enclose them. A one-off piece doesn’t do you any good if there’s no evidence you can’t perform at that level on a daily basis. For a job like the one at Develop, consistency is key.

The next thing, and probably more important, is that if you want to be a journalist, you’re going to have to be persistent. When I first spoke with Rob on the phone, he said I wouldn’t have gotten the job if it hadn’t been for all the e-mails I sent. You may think this means being irritating. It is irritating. But it also shows interest. It shows you care. And most importantly, it show’s you’re willing to keep at it. As a journalist, you have to hound people to get a story- they don’t just hand the good stuff to you. Hounding an editor about an application, provided you’ve got the chops to make it worth their while, shows you’ve got the drive for the job.

Third, be polite. If you’re being persistent, you don’t want to be rude. You are going to be annoying to people before they get used to you. But that does not mean you can get away with being a jerk. There are only a handful of journos out there that every PR agency will immediately respond to. It takes years to build up that kind of rapport. Editors work the same way; they give precedence to those writers whose names they already know and trust. Getting the job means being persistent, but polite persistence means you’re building a relationship that will help your career in the long run.

So let me recap: be proactive, be persistent, be polite. If you’re looking for work, this will get you most of the way there. I got lucky. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if it weren’t for a series of fortunate strokes. If that e-mail server hadn’t crashed, if I hadn’t just recently published my article with Indie Game Mag, if I hadn’t felt comfortable enough with Rob to keep sending e-mails, I would probably still be a blogger struggling to get an article here and there. But the fact is none of this would have mattered if I hadn’t been ready to take advantage of good fortune. The application process is the best training you can get for your future job in journalism. If you can get published, and capitalize on that success to get more paid work, you’re ready for the industry. Go make it happen, and best of luck to you.

Holy Shit! Pandora’s Matchbox

About a week ago I stumbled on the delightfully creepy Pandora’s Box by Terror Bull Games. It was begun as a project for Ludum dare, but I think we can all be glad they took the extra time with it. It is chilling and brilliant, and makes me wonder if the satirical board games by the company are worth a go. This game is an exception to many rules, and I suggest you download it here, and give it a go, because there are some spoilers ahead.

Pandora’s Box is a text-based mystery game. That’s a lie. It’s text based. It is a mystery game. But the fact is it’s something else. If I knew what it was I’d tell you and you’d be all like, “Oh Seth Tipps, the Great Reviewer of Artsy Games!”, and I’d be all like, :”Yes.” Well that’s not how this is going to work. I’m going to talk to you about the most disturbing thing in the whole game; vanishing poos. Continue reading

About those workings, and in response to Mr. Walker.

So I’ve been spending almost my whole day in front of my computer. Nine in the morning to Midnight when I don’t have other commitments. What am I doing? I’m working. Reading, tweeting, writing e-mails… an endless stream of words in front of me. You’d think a games journalist would be playing more games. Continue reading

My article on IGM.

So I’ve been published, paid, and made an official guy who works on the internet. I wonder if there’s a union. Thing is I edited my article down to 1500 words, which is a lot, but not nearly half what I wanted to include originally. I got a quote from Jeff Rosen that could have given me three articles, and I may actually wind up using it later. He did some fancy juggling with my questions that I really shouldn’t have let slide, but I only needed a small bit of his response so I suppose I wasn’t being too lazy. Just lazy enough. Continue reading

Thinkings on hold for workings.

So my writing has become more of a professional thing lately and with the holidays there isn’t much time to keep up with the silly stuff. I assure you there was plenty of it in the world of Middle Earth. But with a number of freelance projects going, my spare time is quite taken. On the upside you’ll be seeing a link to some actually paid for work pretty soon. Stay tuned.

Occupy Free 2 Play

So I’ve been spending time with the current free 2 play MMO market. This is a poor writers dream, being able to cover an emergent market thoroughly with no money down. I’ve been doing games like this for some time, but the market has begun to adopt some uniform practices and I don’t really remember anyone going through and saying, “here’s what you can do in a free 2 play game, and here’s what you have to pay for”. Seeing as this is one of the largest markets available exclusively on the PC, it’s a must-cover for thinkings.

Starting this week, I’m going to be playing around in one MMO and writing a bit on it. The main goal here is to determine what makes a free to play game different than a subscription based product, other than the price tag. The secondary goal is to figure out how games make the paid content rewarding, and if it is balanced with the free stuff.

First off I’ll be doing Lord of the Rings Online. Stay tuned!


Been a while

So I think I’ve finally figured out what I’m going to be using this site for. Initially (if you hadn’t figured it out) it had been a quick and easy place for me to stick up a few bits of writing for the job opening at the worthy Rock Paper Shotgun.  If you haven’t heard, that job was recently filled by the equally worthy Adam Smith, who has impressed me greatly.

The relevance to this here blog? Well in the next few months I’m going to be moving this to my own domain name, and probably tweaking the layout a bit. Not only has Quintin Smith caused me to submit myself to the possibilities of PC games writing, but he and Robert Florence have made me want to take a look at board games. There is some great stuff out there, and if you like thinking about what goes into a game then you really should be spending more time playing them at your table. The mechanics are much easier to spot as such, but without being too obtrusive. Usually.

So I’ll be writing about board games? Not much news there. But I’m also going to be talking about various projects I’m working on, and well, just writing. This means I’m actually going to treat this like, well, a Blog.

So what can you expect? More variety for one. I’m back in school again, and I’ll probably be sticking some of that writing up for general consumption. I’m also working on a few startup projects, and as those become more developed you can come here for some inside information. In any event, thanks to all of you mighty throng who have been checking the site for the past few weeks, and I hope you like the new and improved Thinkings.