Writing about video games can be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs for gamers. As a die-hard gamer myself, this had been a dream of mine from 12 years-old. At 22, with a bit of grinding, I achieved that goal, but not in the way most would expect. Now 4 years later, I’m a full-time content writer living in Tokyo, Japan and have written video game articles for TheRichest, TheGamer, GaijinPot, JapanToday, Tokyo Notice Board, and of course, KeenGamer. Here, I will go over my writing journey, and give a few tips on how to write about video games and make a decent income doing so.
Jobs for Gamers: My Video Game Writing Journey
At 21, I was a 4th year university student studying English – creative writing. At that point, I had no online writing presence. I realized I wanted to start writing articles online, but I didn’t know where to start.
I read a few blogs and started searching for websites that accepted freelance writers. I searched everyday, and applied to a different website almost every day. It was during that time that I learned the most important rule when it comes to the writing grind:
Luck comes to those who are prepared for it.
Yes, it is true that you need a little bit of luck getting started. However, it is also true that luck will not fall in your lap. You have to be always searching and always ready when opportunity strikes. With that mindset, I found my first writing gig at The Richest. This publication belongs to Valnet, a huge company who also owns ScreenRant, GameRant, and numerous other properties.
What was I writing?
Clickbait. That’s right, I was writing the “Top 20”, “10 Best”, and “5 Must-see” listicles that flood your social media walls.
Was it the ideal job? Of course not. Was it a great job for an amateur writer? Absolutely. Using my experience at The Richest, I began writing for Valnet’s other property, The Gamer. It was that website that truly kicked off my video game journalism career. Yes, I was still writing listicles, but at least they were 100% video game focussed listicles.
Next, I landed a role at KeenGamer as a staff writer and Gaijinpot as a contributing writer. These two publications have been the bulk of my video game writing career, and they opened up the doors to full-time writing positions. I’m currently a full-time content writer for the marketing team at the Lionbridge Tokyo office, also known as Gengo.
How to Write About Video Games – 6 Tips
So, the first step is to find a website that will accept you as a writer. When you’re just starting out, full-time positions will be next to impossible to find. On the other hand, freelance positions are plentiful. However, even those require basic qualifications to be accepted and these terms vary by company.
1. Write About Video Games Often and Hone Your Craft
When you apply for a freelance position, the company needs to know that you can write. More importantly, you should be confident in your writing. I know you may hate this truth, but grammar and punctuation matters. In fact, it matters a lot. Editors want writers they don’t have to watch over. They want writers they can trust to edit and proofread their own work. In the age of Google, where we can search for every grammar rule and get an answer in 3 seconds, there is no excuse for bad grammar.
2. Build an Online Portfolio
Some online writing jobs will accept college essays as a “writing sample”. But if I had to choose between the writer that submitted a random Shakespeare essay, or a writer that submitted a video game review they wrote on Steam or their own personal blog, obviously I’d choose the latter.
We live in a world of instant connectivity and online media. There are countless outlets where you can start writing immediately, and begin building an online profile. Some of these outlets include: Medium, LinkedIn, and IGN user blogs. Better yet, create your own blog on WordPress from scratch.
It is much easier for editors to click a link in your email and read your work. Instead of downloading an essay you wrote in Microsoft Word. In fact, the latter even seems a bit unprofessional in this day and age.
3. Write for Anyone That’ll Take You, Worry About the Money Later
If you have no formal work experience in writing or journalism, you can’t reasonably expect a high wage when starting out. When I first started, I was paid only 50 cents per 1000 views. That rate was considered standard if not high for the industry at the time. Don’t be picky about money when starting out. You need to get articles published under your name. After you’ve built up a bit of a portfolio, then you can start looking for higher paying gigs and more reputable companies.
4. Be Professional and Friendly
While most developers and streamers conduct themselves quite well, you’ll likely learn that some game A lot of Japanese developers aren’t used to the type of questions Western interviewers ask. Sometimes I’d ask a question expecting a 5-minute answer and be greeted with a 4-word response. In order to get the connections that you want and elicit answers from shy or nervous developers, you have to be friendly and outgoing. You have to tear the walls down before people will be willing to open up to you.
Next, no matter the circumstance, whether it be over the email, over the phone, or in person, always be professional. In order for the video game industry to get the respect it deserves, we must conduct ourselves appropriately. If you want to get access to game review keys, you have to be someone that developers can trust. If you want to get the high-profile interviews, you have to be worth talking to.
5. Update Your Resume to Suit Jobs for Gamers
I have often met people who just send their resume out and hope for the best. It bewilders me that a lot of people don’t bother updating their resume before sending it out. You should always tweak your resume to match the company you are applying to.
Does the company publish mainly listicles? Then highlight your experience writing listicles. If you’re applying to a publication that publishes both hardware and software reviews, express your experience or interest in both. Yes, you can simply send out your resume by the masses and hope something sticks. Honestly, maybe something will. However, if you are looking for the best jobs for gamers, you should put some effort into it. Do your research and give your all in every cover letter you write and every email you send.
6. Learn About SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
For any writer publishing work online, search engines have strongly changed the game. It isn’t enough that you write something well; you also need to know how to make sure Google ranks it well. I use Google as the example here because it is where the majority of online traffic originates.
What is SEO?
Put simply, writing search engine optimized articles means to write articles to rank highly (top 3 positions) for certain keywords. This means people type in “Write About Video Games” in the search bar and hopefully this article pops up as the first suggestion.
How to Learn About SEO?
In the near future, I plan to write a follow-up article detailing my own experience in SEO content writing. However, in the meantime, you should head to Neil Patel’s blog. He is considered an industry leader in search engine marketing and his blog has tons of beginner guides.
Where to find Jobs for Gamers
There are many places to find writing jobs. Here, I will highlight sources that have helped me find various video game publications to write for.
- KeenGamer – You’re already on our site. If you think you’ve got what it takes, apply to write for us! Read what we need from you here or send us directly an email at email@example.com
- LinkedIn – A great and easy website to search for jobs in certain locations. Be sure to always keep your profile up-to-date.
- Glassdoor – Similar to LinkedIn, you can use Glassdoor to search for jobs with certain keywords in your area or places hiring remotely.
- Game Journalism Jobs – This is an AMAZING website, which I owe a lot to. It was through this site that I found writing opportunities here at KeenGamer and at The Gamer. You should be checking this site daily to see all the options currently on the market.
- Craigslist – While the reputation of this site has gone down, I often find real freelance writing opportunities on Craigslist. Just make sure to do your research on the actual company who provides the listing.
How Much Do Video Game Journalists Get Paid?
While I can’t give you an exact number, I can give you some standard rates for the industry. What rates you accept is up to you, your situation in life, your work experience, etc. Some publications will pay a flat rate for articles with a minimum word count. Other publications pay based on the amount of views your articles receive. Alternatively, some companies may use a combination of flat rate plus a recurring fee based on number of views.
Jobs for Gamers: Rates Per 1000 Views
Every company I’ve dealt with that pays by views, gives a standard rate per 1000 views.
When I first started out in 2015, anywhere between 40 cents to 60 cents per 1000 views was considered a standard rate. The rates have not changed much since then. If you can find a publication that pays $1 per 1000 views, that is quite a good rate, especially for a new writer.
For companies that pay a flat rate, I’ve seen the numbers vary quite drastically. I’ve gotten offers as low as $10 USD for a 500-800 word article. One of my current companies pays me around $90 USD per 500 – 800 word article. If you have to travel for an article, or spend time attending a game show or conference, a reputable company should pay you for your time as well.
I went to Tokyo Game Show in September of this year, and was paid $70 for 7 hours of my time attending and $100 USD for the article about the show. All in all, I find it helpful to estimate how much time it will take you to complete the article. Then, using that amount of time, you can calculate how much you’d be getting paid per hour to write the piece.
Again, when you’re just starting out, don’t be too picky about rates. Once you gain a rapport and trust with publications, you can negotiate better rates.
I hope you’ve learned a bit from my own journey into the field of video game journalism. You can follow my work on my own blog, Japan Bound, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If have questions or are having trouble finding jobs for gamers, follow one of my social media accounts and send me a direct message.