Wow. What a year. So much has happened this year it’s almost impossible for me to sift through it all in my head. Almost all of it has been incredibly good as well, which is bizarre, amazing, and sort of scary. Hopefully that doesn’t mean next year will be full of disappointment to restore a balance to things – I think I’m okay with things remaining lopsided in my favor.
While it would probably be easiest for me to break things down by each month, that would take way, way too long. Instead, let’s just talk about some of the biggest highlights:
I attended the Game Developer Conference (GDC) for the first time. This was a huge convention for me as I got to try out a lot of upcoming technology (like virtual reality headsets, augmented reality devices, motion tracking gloves and body suits, and a bunch of other stuff) but also met some really awesome people. I didn’t end up selling a whole lot of pieces from this event because I had just started taking freelancing more seriously right before attending GDC, but it was a big milestone for me for sure.
Paste Magazine and Pixelkin
Right around the time I went to GDC is when I started writing for Paste Magazine and Pixelkin. While my stint with Paste Magazine was very brief (I only wrote a single editorial about H1Z1, an impressions piece from GDC, and a review for Pillars of Eternity) it gave me some awesome samples for a publication that people had actually heard of. I still use some of those samples when pitching other outlets today.
Pixelkin is a different story. Not only does the outlet pay well, but they’ve also got a unique angle on covering games. Since it’s a site focused on kids and families, I get to enjoy a different type of writing and have to think outside the box more with my pitches. I’ve written a lot of pieces for them this year and even have started reviewing games for them regularly as well. I hope to expand my role with that site even further next year.
Breaking into these two outlets is what jump-started my entire year of freelancing.
CGMag – Web and Print
Shortly after GDC, I decided two things: I wanted to write for more outlets and I wanted to get something in a print magazine. Thus, I reached out to CGM. My first pitch for a print story was accepted and I was assigned my first preview as well. In total this year, I’ve written two hands-on previews, two editorials, three reviews, and previewed nine games at E3 for them – all for the website. I’ve published four print articles across three issues of their print magazine and have submitted my fifth just this month. I couldn’t be happier with this result – seeing my name and my words in a print magazine (albeit a Canadian one I’ll never see on store shelves in America) is a huge accomplishment.
This was the big one. For the first time in my life I got to finally attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) as a member of the gaming press and it was all I had hoped for and much more. Not only did I get to finally meet some of my closest online friends and fellow freelancers, but I got to witness the biggest game announcements on the planet all with my own eyes. I met creators of legendary game franchises like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and more, saw the debut announcement for Fallout 4, and felt the entire auditorium shake when the Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced.
On top of all the excitement and big moments I met a ton of people and did lots of networking. Over the course of that single week, just with my few meager paying assignments from a couple of websites, I was able to make over $1,000 in coverage which more than covered my split of the hotel, parking, and travel fees, plus some. It was an incredible experience.
Why stop there? Right around the time of E3 I also got my first article published on Playboy. It was a simple editorialized list article about The Elder Scrolls Online, nothing special, but it got my foot in the door. Since then I’ve written another simple list article, but I also got an early copy of Until Dawn from Sony to review, wrote a retrospective on my favorite PS1 game (which was the most popular gaming article on the entire site for over two weeks, by the way), and even interviewed the Lead Writer from Spec Ops: The Line about the game’s representations of war, violence, and the human mind. I’ve got a lot more stuff planned and coming up for Playboy, but the name recognition of this outlet alone really helped solidify myself in the freelance pool.
This one was a tough decision. For over a year I had been a regular contributor to MMORPG, functioning as not only the primary writer for the weekly List column, but also previewing games, reviewing games, and interviewing developers. They even sent me to my first on-site press preview event at a development studio’s office in 2014. It was one of the first websites that I ever had a published article I was paid for and the editors and writers are all amazing to work with. But unfortunately, it was taking up precious time and wasn’t paying well enough for me to justify keeping it in my schedule. I had to prioritize my limited freelancing time with higher paying work.
And in November, what is arguably my biggest break of the year arrived. I was browsing Reddit one evening and stumbled across the Digital Nomad sub and was immediately interested. I did some research and noticed that, while the topic wasn’t new, it wasn’t covered much in the media, specifically at VICE. I had been looking to get into that outlet for a while and I figured this would be perfect. I pitched an editor there and she was immediately interested as well. After interviewing a digital nomad at a local restaurant and having that article published, I got a flood of Twitter followers, my interview subject has been interviewed by several websites and appeared on radio shows, and VICE even featured the piece on their Snapchat channel.
You know what’s really big in the game industry right now? Mobile gaming. It’s super popular, it’s lucrative, and there still aren’t a ton of dedicated mobile gaming sites out there. Gamezebo is one of the most popular and I joined the ranks to do some occasional news writing. I’ve been slacking lately, but I intend to pick things back up soon. I can also cover some Samsung Gear VR stuff for them as well.
On the heels of being published in VICE, I decided to branch off and pitch one of their sister websites, Motherboard. My first article was about dispelling the myth that RPG Maker isn’t a legitimate game development program, then I went to visit a VR game company’s office and get hands-on time with virtual reality D&D. It was amazing. I have a few things in the works with them already for next year.
And the last big development of my freelancing life in 2015 was joining the team at UploadVR. So far I’ve only written a few VR game reviews for them, but my role is guaranteed to expand further very soon. They’re just now starting to focus more on gaming, in addition to their established leadership on the technology side of VR, so this is a massive opportunity for me to really establish myself as a voice in the field of VR gaming.
Leaving GuideSpark and Joining Workday
Outside of freelancing I’ve had some major changes as well. In November I left my job as one of the lead Content Development Writers at Guidespark in Menlo Park, CA (my commute was 70 miles each way and sometimes over 2 hours!!) and joined Workday as a Contract Associate Technical Writer. Then just today, in the last few dozen hours of 2015, I was offered a full-time conversion. That means an enticing pay raise, a promotion to Technical Writer (no longer a Contract Associate), a comprehensive benefits package, unlimited PTO, and stock options.
Talk about a great way to end the year!
2016 and Beyond
A lot happened this year. A lot happened. I feel like it’s all been happening so quickly that during the course of the year, I wasn’t fully realizing just how lucky and fortunate I’ve been. Now, looking back, I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve been able to take advantage of this year.
But I don’t have time to waste on reminiscing about the things I did well this year. It’s already time for me to move on and I intend to very quickly. Here are some things that are coming in 2016 for me:
- More blogging. This time, I am serious – I think. I would really like to write a blog entry at least a couple of times each month.
- Fiction writing. I’ve started some interactive fiction projects, looked into writing scripts and stories for indie games, and creating some short stories. These are all areas of interest.
- Breaking into new outlets. I’ve written for a lot of great websites, but I still haven’t broken into some of the top gaming websites like IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, and others. Those are my primary targets for next year.
- More video content. Video coverage of video games is becoming more and more popular and I need to get in on that. Quick looks, previews, reviews, streaming, gameplay commentary, etc.
- Virtual reality. I have a Gear VR now and intend on getting an Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR as soon as possible. I’ll be making lots of moves to establish myself in that field as soon as possible.
Happy new year everyone! Best of luck on all your endeavors!