Chris Dring is publisher of trade media site GamesIndustry.biz, and also writes for the Observer, The Guardian, and Doctor Who Magazine. In an ongoing series of Games Media Brit List Interviews, he tells us the best advice he’s ever been given, the challenges of writing in industry media, and on feeling old beyond his years…
How did you first get into the games media?
I used to write for fun. Beginning on forums and then graduating to amateur websites. I was fascinated by the business side of games, oddly, and a lot of my writing looked at the commercial and technical side of the industry.
My university lecturer urged me to try it as a career, but there weren’t too many jobs around. Instead, I joined a video games localisation firm, helping them tidy up their English translations. This company received this big B2B magazine every week called MCV. I emailed the managing editor, Lisa, about whether they were looking for any junior writers. It turned out they were.
What advice would you give to someone currently looking at a career in games media?
Write. Nobody will hire a writer that doesn’t write. So start a blog, join an amateur website or just write for yourself. Also, the industry is full of columnists. Twitter and YouTube are awash with opinions. What an editor really desires are journalists that have an interesting story to tell about a game or a company or a community.
What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?
My old MD Stuart Dinsey once said: “Keep learning and trying new things. If you find yourself prevented from that, then it’s time to move on.”
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
There are a few pieces and media campaigns that I’m proud of. But probably, it is all the cool people we hired on MCV that are now running their own businesses and publications. James Batchelor, Alex Calvin, Billy Langsworthy, Matt Jarvis and Dom Sacco among them. I don’t think I helped, but it’s nice to think that I didn’t hold them back, either.
And what has been your biggest challenge?
Working in industry media is super hard. The games business never sits still and your audience knows more than you do. Try writing a relevant editorial leader under those conditions.
Which of your competitors do you most admire and why?
I find most of the games media is a competitor to GamesIndustry.biz. It’s not just MCV, Gamasutra and Venturebeat, but all the media cover games industry news.
Our sister sites are obviously fantastic, Eurogamer, RPS and VG247 among them. But it’s probably Retro Gamer that I admire the most. I love a good magazine, and that’s a publication full of fascinating stories about the history of the business.
Who’s your favourite non-games writer/presenter?
A bit specific to me, but Benjamin Cook, who is a regular contributor to Doctor Who Magazine. He does a great interview.
If you weren’t working in games media, what would you be doing?
Teaching. A week before my MCV interview, I had done a week working in a school.
Best and worst thing about the games media?
Best is the variety. This job never gets boring. The worst? The average age of my peers. I’m not sure many people in their early 30s feel as old as I do.
Nominate yourself for a Games Media Brit List award here – it’s quick and easy and finalists attend the event, held on May 17th at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, completely free!