Kyle Hilliard: Game Informer
Still shell-shocked about his recent achievement of working for high-profile game magazine Game Informer, Kyle Hilliard is finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that he is an associate editor for a gaming magazine, which he describes as "a dream come true".
Ever since he was a child, Kyle had dreamed about writing about video games. Inspired by his constant reading of video game magazines and an addictive habit of playing video games, it wasn't surprising that this was where Kyle saw himself in the future.
His middle school years allowed Kyle a foretaste of writing about games, which led him to write for online game sites GamesRadar, GamerNode and GameZone. This in turn, to Kyle's great surprise, led him to write for Game Informer.
"I still can’t believe I got the job," he says.
Now Kyle is happily living his childhood dream, at the same time as being happily married with a baby daughter to whom he tells bedtime stories about his favourite game, Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.
I spoke to Kyle about working for Game Informer, and asked him if he had any insights or advice for those pursuing a career in video game writing.
How It Began
"Last year I applied for the job after Andy McNamara said he was looking for a new editor on Twitter. It got such a big response and I didn’t think I had a chance. I don’t know what he saw in my resume that set me apart, but I’m glad he called."
Writing for Game Informer
"It’s intimidating. I personally scrutinise everything I write, very aware that it will be going out to millions of subscribers. I imagine someday I will be able to relax, but for now and for the foreseeable future, I will always nervously re-read everything I’ve written."
"Apart from the free hook-ups, it’s being surrounded by people who are just as passionate about video games as I am, in both the sense of my co-workers and the G.I. online community."
"Outside of obvious things like deadlines, and creating relationships with video game developers and publishers, the most surprising challenge has been dealing with the backlash of people who don’t like your opinions."
"There are so many readers who are amazing and supportive of your work, but there always seems to be one guy who lashes out at you for a review or some other piece of writing. "
Approaching a Review or Article
"When it comes to previews and reviews, I like to read about a player's personal experience with a game. Things like how the combat works, or how many guns you have in your inventory are things I can find out by playing a game for a minute or two, or looking at a bullet point of a game."
"I like to read how people felt about the game, or what kinds of worthwhile experiences came from their time with a game, so I try my best to write like that: from a very personalised perspective."
"Write as much as possible. Try to get your writing on any website about video games that you can, and if you can’t get your writing on there, move it over to your blog. Also, try to get into the online or publishing world. Write and intern for the local newspaper. I did an internship at a local arts newspaper during college, editing video, and they let me post a few video game articles on their website."
"I went to metacritic.com, looked at their list of every site that contributed review scores, and emailed every single one of them with links to my work asking if I could contribute to their site. It got me a lot of work, beefed up my resume, and helped me a lot."
Working but Still Learning
"One thing I’ve learned, and grown to really appreciate in my time at Game Informer, is the art of condensing. As a freelancer, I had no wordcount, so I would just write endlessly. With the magazine, things often need to be cut down, but even as I continue to write for online I am realising that I don’t need to say as much as I originally thought I did. The fewer words, the better."
"My writing has changed a lot in my short tenure here, and as the writer with the least amount of professional experience under his belt here at Game Informer, I still have a lot to learn."
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