Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I got a taste of a real job

Hey all. Two weeks with no entries, and I am almost positive that nobody missed me. For everyone who had their fingers twitching by the phone, waiting to call the authorities because someone on the internet went quiet, I am quite safe and just recently returned from an awesome work experience placement at PC Zone.

Life in a magazine newsroom is quite interesting. If you are expecting it to look anything like the Daily Bugle from the various incarnations of Superman, then you clearly believe that the world is a more interesting place than it really is. Truth be told, it was a really good atmosphere, filled with some genuinely funny, friendly people who made me feel like I was part of the team, rather than the temporary tea lady.

The job is definitely a fun one from what I have seen. When I went there, I was writing the odd review about games that I am fairly sure you will not care to play unless you are a huge fan of the relatively unknown titles I was given. It did give me a chance however to try and improve on my writing, something that I always strive to do. I realise this is probably not the most interesting thing I could be writing about this week, what with Diablo III recently announced and such, and that a writer who is trying to improve his writing is probably about as strange as an engineer trying to design a boat that floats.

I know to many it might seem like the best job in the world, and to others, it might not seem like much of a job at all, but like all jobs, it also has its fair share of downsides. Just like any publication, deadlines will often bend you over a barrel and try to make you a 'special friend', but this is emphasised even more, when you meeting the deadline, is dependant on third parties making their's. When I was there, everything seemed to go relatively smoothly, but if a game developer is releasing a game a week after you go to publish, and you are stuck without a review code, things can start to look darker than the shoe box you buried your hamster in.

All in all, it was a very good experience, and I am very happy that I was given the opportunity to do it. I know this sounds like a very vain arse kissing session, but I really did have a lot of good times there.

Something that is playing on my mind however is the future of games journalism. I am still more than happy to spend five or six quid on a decent video games magazine, where the writing has gone through some sort of quality assurance tests, and wasn't written in crayon by a ranting lunatic. The internet has many of these, who can happily give you all of the information and a review of a game that at least conveys half of the message of what to expect when booting it up. This means that people who are prepared to pay for the information, even if it is put across coherently, are becoming few and far between, making the future of decent publications as hazy as the moors of Scotland after you have merrily downed a bottle of absinthe.

As no one has quite figured out how to make decent money from information on the internet, where anything can be found out relatively easily for free, all it takes is for enough of the good writers to go rogue and online, before the system collapses and magazines go so far south they are geographically north again. Also, it is clear that TV does not hold the answers, ever since Dominic Diamond ran off somewhere with the disembodied head of Patrick Moore, leaving behind many shows that tried but never could.

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