Guest Author - Lisa Shea
Probably every game player has wondered this at some point in their gaming career. Just how does one become a professional game reviewer, and get paid to play games? Here's how to proceed.
First, it is critical that you learn how to write well. You might think it matters little if you say "its" vs "it's" or know the difference between "their" and "there". However, people who read your words often will care and their respect for you will be measured by how well you write your reviews. It is well worth it to take a few writing courses, to practice writing every day, and to find people to give you honest feedback. If you can't write well then your message to others will never reach them. Being a good writer is your primary skill. Work diligently to improve this area.
Next, you have to play as many games as you can. Let's say you play game XXX and write it up as "an amazing game that has feature yyy!" You might then receive thousands of annoyed reader feedback letters informing you that there have already been eight well known games that used that feature. In order to receive respect for your writings you have to known your topic area.
You have to have an eye for detail and the ability to stick with a task. Some people love to play a game that they enjoy - but if they hit a game they dislike they give up after an hour or two. That will spell certain death in the gaming review world. Many games you review are going to suck. It's a fact of life. However, you must play through the entire game anyway to give it a fair trial. If you're the type that puts off chores or skips out on responsibilities, handling game reviews will not work well for you. You have to play the game through even if you're not enjoying it.
I want to comment here that this is one of our greatest burdens as gaming writers. There are many times that we actively dread playing a game, and we "waste" our weekend grinding through frustrating levels, awful graphics and annoying sounds. It is a large part of the job. It is really not fun. Make sure that you will be able to handle this aspect of things.
When you write your review, you need to put your notes in terms that a wide range of people will understand. Some of your readers will be children, other will be adults. Some will be gamers, others will be the parents of gamers. All need to be able to understand what you are saying, get a sense for what the game is about and if the target recipient will enjoy it or not. You have to convey what makes the game fun, what might make it inappropriate for certain people, how the graphics compare with other current games, what the challenges of it are.
Finally, you have to write many reviews without getting paid before you can prove to someone to take you on for hire. Start reviewing every game you can on Amazon.com and on your own personal website. Build your "resume" of reviews. Prove to potential employers that you know what you're doing, that your writing style will be enjoyed by their audience, and that you can handle a range of game genres. Only by having this online bulk of content can you show someone that you have what it takes to work within their arena.