Interviews

‘Every day is different and presents new challenges’ Eurogamer dep ed Wesley Yin-Poole explains his love of the job

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Wesley Yin-Poole, deputy editor at Eurogamer started out volunteering before getting hired on Pro-G. In the next in a series of Games Media Brit List interviews, he tells us about getting into journalism, keeping up in a fast changing industry, and the daily variety of working in games media...

How did you first get into the games media?

A lovely chap called Tom Orry hired me to work on a lovely website called Pro-G after a stint as a part-time volunteer writer. I had some newspaper experience, which I suspect helped convince Tom that I knew what I was doing. Little did he know...

What advice would you give to someone currently looking at a career in games media?

Specialise and learn what it is to find an angle and tell a story. The best publications are interested in cool stories about games, be it investigations, making ofs or reporting on game communities. If you can unearth these stories and tell them well, you'll be of value.

What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?

The features editor of the Mail on Sunday told me to quit my junior role there, train to be a journalist then climb the ladder. She taught me the value of hard work and getting out and about.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

If I helped anyone working at Eurogamer in any way with anything, just a little bit, I'm delighted!

And what has been your biggest challenge?

Working out how to make Eurogamer not just relevant, but popular. Things move so quickly in this industry that the answer to that question changes on a monthly basis.

Which of your competitors do you most admire and why?

I think Kotaku does fantastic work, and I'm constantly impressed by the journalism they do. They have nailed the relevance and popular conundrum. In fact, they nailed it a while ago.

Who’s your favourite non-games writer/presenter?

The Guardian's senior sports writer, Barney Ronay.

If you weren’t working in games media, what would you be doing?

Probably editing a B2B publication of some description. Cabinet Maker, perhaps. Or Chemist + Druggist. No, The Publican!

Best and worst thing about the games media?

The best thing is the variety. I love my job because every day is different and presents new challenges. The worst thing about the job is having to listen to Martin Robinson bang on about Arms.

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!

‘You're so proud every single month of this beautiful thing you've made’ – Edge dep ed Jen Simpkins on working in games media

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Jen Simpkins started her games media career blogging and freelancing, and soon after joined the ranks of Official PlayStation magazine. Now Deputy Editor on Edge, she discusses the camaraderie of a magazine team, the dangers of too much overtime, and Mario vs Modernist literature…

 How did you first get into the games media?

I was sort of dancing around the edges of it when I was at university: I wrote for various hobby games sites and magazines, attended a handful of industry events, and made sure I wrote each week for my own embarrassingly amateur WordPress blog. I graduated and got a job at my local Co-op, and then a friend posted on Facebook that Official PlayStation Magazine UK were looking for a staff writer. I thought I'd give it a shot despite having limited experience, nervously babbled my way through a two-hour interview, got the position and my break. It probably wasn't because of the nervous babbling. Please don't do that in your interviews.

What advice would you give to someone currently looking at a career in games media?

Write regularly, even if it's just setting yourself a weekly post goal on a homemade blog: you're proving to yourself that you're serious about doing this, holding yourself accountable to deadlines, and hopefully developing your own personal voice. Get on Twitter (which is terrible, but also useful), follow editors you admire, and look out for freelance opportunities. When pitching, do your homework on the site or magazine you want to write for, and make sure the pitch suits. Don't copy-paste the same thing to multiple editors, because we can tell. And get a staffer role as soon as you possibly can: working under an editor that can offer you consistent, focused feedback is a surefire way to become a better writer.

What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?

I once got some stellar advice from Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman – he was editor of GamesMaster magazine at the time, and something of a mentor to me. He always advised against making a habit of working overtime, and said it was important to always remember who you're really working for. Working in magazines – and in something you love, like games – means there's a lovely atmosphere of camaraderie in the face of deadlines, but it's also easy to convince yourself to pull crazy hours and burn yourself out because you don't want to let your teammates down. Of course, if you're working for a company, it's all in service of something much higher up on the food chain, so it's sensible to keep that in perspective and make sure it's not at the expense of your sanity. I think a lot of people my age are particularly bad at that, and could do with looking after themselves better.

 

It’s easy to convince yourself to pull crazy hours and burn yourself out because you don’t want to let your teammates down.
— Jen Simpkins

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

Honestly, the nice thing about magazines is that you're so proud every single month of this beautiful thing you've made, that you can hold in your hands. I tend to think of my proudest moments in terms of covers and the stories behind putting them together. The No Man's Sky cover for OPM was my first big feature, so I'll always be proud of that; the 'Can Indie Games Save The World?' cover feature for Edge is sort of symbolic of a lot of achievements in my career coming together. But it's hard to pick just one thing, really, because I'm proud of every magazine, and every mad month that goes into it.

And what has been your biggest challenge?

Being a woman. Writing is cake compared to some of the nonsense I've had to deal with because of my gender.

Which of your competitors do you most admire and why?

It's hard to think of any real competitors, because Future Publishing basically owns all the gaming magazines now, and online publications often have a wildly different approach to covering games. But as far as mags go, I love both PC Gamer's personality-driven stuff and its unique features. Their team is one of the strongest in the industry right now. Online, Eurogamer has my favourite overall games coverage, which is somehow both rigorous and approachable. I get my indie gaming tips almost exclusively from Rock Paper Shotgun: they always know what's up.

Who’s your favourite non-games writer/presenter?

This is where I realise I live in a games bubble. Does Louis Theroux count? I'm obsessed with his interview persona – it's completely genius. I'm always fascinated by how other journalists coax out stories from people, and Theroux is the master. I'm still very much working on my own approach.

If you weren’t working in games media, what would you be doing?

I probably would have somehow convinced myself to go back to university and become a full-time academic, which would have been disastrous for me. Turns out I'm much happier writing about Mario than Modernist literature.

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!

‘Don't burn your bridges’ – veteran Julian Rignall reflects on 35 years in games media

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Julian "Jaz" Rignall is amongst other things an award-winning editorial director and content strategist, having launched and managed market-leading consumer websites and publications. He started his career writing about video games back in 1983 and has been involved in one capacity or another ever since.

In the first of a series of Games Media Brit List Interviews, Rignall reflects on his career in games media, inspiring young writers, and on staying relevant in a changing medium…

How did you first get into the games media?

It's ancient history now, but I made a bit of a name for myself by winning the 1983 Computer and Video Games National Arcade Championships. Afterwards, I leveraged my credibility as a top player to write gaming hints and tips, which were published in magazines such as Computer and Video Games, and Personal Computer Games. Chris Anderson, editor of PCG, noticed my efforts, and when he was given the opportunity to launch a new Commodore 64 magazine, he offered me a position as a junior writer. I couldn't believe my luck!

What advice would you give to someone currently looking at a career in games media?

The games media is a very tough business to break into, so be prepared to be persistent and face a lot of rejection. Take the time to create a showcase for your talents and creativity – perhaps a website, blog, or a YouTube/Twitch presence that enables people to see what you're capable of. Then do your research. Look at the kinds of stories run by websites and publications that you want to write for, develop interesting, compelling, and original pitches and submit them. I'm a firm believer that if you have the talent, you'll be published.

 

The games media is very much a young person’s industry, and staying relevant and interesting as one of the oldest games journalists around is a constant challenge.
— Julian Rignall

 

What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don't burn your bridges.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

Over the years, numerous people have told me that my magazines of yore inspired them to join the gaming industry as programmers, artists, and writers. It's both humbling and amazing to hear that.

And what has been your biggest challenge?

I think I'm facing it right now. The games media is very much a young person's industry, and staying relevant and interesting as one of the oldest games journalists around is a constant challenge.

Which of your competitors do you most admire and why?

I enjoy reading much of the content produced by Eurogamer and Polygon. They present interesting and thoughtful perspectives on gaming that few other outlets can match.

Who’s your favourite non-games writer/presenter?

Can I nominate an editorial team instead? As an ardent car nut, EVO magazine is my favourite publication. It's a terrific example of enthusiast press that's very well written and enables its readers to live vicariously through the exploits of its editors.

If you weren’t working in games media, what would you be doing?

I'd love the opportunity to teach games journalism and the history of gaming. Fat chance that'll ever happen, but it's a nice pipe dream.

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!