In my couple of decades in the magazine (and gaming) world, I have worked for titles including (deep breath) N-Force, Sega Pro, GamesMaster, GamesTM, Prima Guides, SFX, Total Advance, Official Nintendo, Dreamcast magazine, NGamer, Cube, Pokémon World, DVD Review, Hotdog, What’s Online, Xnet, and, for precisely 100 issues, Xbox World magazine.
Hailing from Ludlow in Shropshire (I have never hailed in my life), the true home of videogame journalism, it’s not too surprising that I began a lifetime of getting paid to place words on pages by writing about games.
My very first experience of being a paid writer came circa 1992, when N-Force magazine at Europress Impact (Newsfield as was) gave me a bit of pocket money for ranking NES games like A Boy & His Blob and Duck Tales out of five Xmas puddings for that year’s festive special. It would be disingenuous to deny the nepotistic angle to this – true gaming mag nerds will well recall Nick Roberts’ Tips pages in Crash magazine, and being his younger brother gave me an early ticket into magazine production. However, what people fail to appreciate about family ties in the workplace is just how much harder it requires ‘the beneficiary’ to work, to prove that the alleged unfair advantage was irrelevant, and that you deserve to be where you are on your own merits.
This was certainly the case when I became de facto Editor of Total Game Boy/Total Advance magazine at Paragon Publishing at the age off 22 – it was a job few other people would have taken on, especially on £11k a year, but my brother knew that I would do so, uncomplainingly, and relish the challenge. So I was well and truly thrown in at the deep end, and fought hard to amass all the knowledge I have about making magazines and the magazine industry in general, learning from the very cream of designers, editors and gamers as I went.
Playing games and then earning money by passing judgement on them has, in short, been the one occupation which has remained sort of constant throughout my whole life, and I still try and keep my platformer-slating skills sharp even today. It makes poor financial sense to spend days playing a game when the review could net you as little as £25, but I still just love the process, and hope those days are far from over. From A Boy & His Blob to Fable: The Journey has been a wild ride, and long may it continue.
I’ll be blogging about past mag glories and present day concerns as and when the mood takes me…