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.
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!