I changed my Twitter bio this morning. And it’s not something I did on a whim. I only changed one word, but it’s a big deal to me. It represents a shift in my mentality and a refined statement of my position in the day-to-day professional world.
For as long as I’ve been on the social network, my bio has been the ultimate distillation of who I am as a person. The information found on that single line contains the most dominating information about what drives my life. The part behind that dividing bar has changed slightly from year to year as I moved between editorial and contributor positions at my various workplaces, but the part in front of it — the part that comes first — has remained unchanged until today: “Aspiring Games Journalist.”
My new bio reads: “Fledgling Games Journalist,” because no longer am I on the outside looking in on how awesome it would be to write about games for a living — I’ve long since put the wheels in motion to make my dream a reality.
For the last several months, the griff has paid me to write about video games. My games writing isn’t the primary reason for my employment, but over the last two months, it has become a sizable part of my work week. Now, I’m not working towards becoming a games journalist, I am a journalist (albeit an inexperienced one) who strongly identifies with video games — Hence, “fledgling.”
I’ve written and contributed to over 160 articles in the past 13 months about sports, government protest, flawed university procedures that hurt students (this story has since been removed due to legal threats,) gamified syllabuses, theatre, music, new business ventures, and of course — video games. Online readers and those on my campus respond to my work every week, and I’ve gathered respect from my sources at the ground level, all the way to the executives of multi-million-dollar organizations in my city.
I’ve taken every opportunity to experience and write about new things, and I’ve leveraged my passions outside of gaming to tell a wide breadth of stories in a variety ways. But all of these positives in my young career aren’t enough. From the end of August until today, I reassessed where I stand in my professional life and where my current trajectory is taking me, and I came to a conclusion that was disheartening at first, but now stands as significant decision point in my life: I am not satisfied with my current rate of professional development.
I’m studying Journalism in university and I’m the editor of the Features and Opinions sections of my medium-sized campus newspaper, but unfortunately, I feel like I’ve hit the peak of what those two endeavours currently have to offer me in terms of growth.
The core courses in my academic program focus on primitive details and concepts that I mastered years ago by being an rabid consumer of news, and my peers at the newspaper are too close to my own skill level to offer me new constructive criticism that will push me forward quickly. Gathering experience as a leader and as an editor is great, but every great leader has to learn from someone else first.
I spend a lot of my time helping others be the best they can be with the knowledge and experience that I have, which is great, but it’s not helping me trend in the direction I want. It’s especially disconcerting to me when the people that I’m helping, working under, and working beside, often have several years of experience on me, but don’t have any results to show for it.
I have to become one of the best journalist in the world
I have dream publications I’d love to work for, as a freelancer or as a staff member, but if there’s anything I’ve learned after reading their content for years and speaking with some of their editors and reporters this year at PAX, it’s that their employees are some of best people in the world at their jobs. If I want to work with them, I have to become one of the best journalist in the world as well.
If my discussions with media professionals that I respect are any indication, I’m on the right track towards a fulfilling career, but I want to make sure that engine guiding my train it chugging at full-steam. I don’t think my work ethic will ever diminish, I just want to make sure I’m shovelling the coals into the right furnace.
The title “games journalist” is a broad one, in a single day, I could be an investigator, an information conveyor, a critic and a manager, but the key word in the title for me, is the word “journalist.” It’s a profession dedicated to effective, clear and fair communication, and I’m going to treat it as such.
So, to make sure I stay laser-focussed on improving as a professional. I’m rearranging where I spend my time when I work, and how I prepare myself to do a great job. I’m studying game design and programming, so I can level educated criticism when I review video games. And, starting in January, I’ll be pitching new publications like mad, in an attempt to work with the best editors possible.
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Oh, and if you are wondering why I’m still clinging to my childish Twitter handle if I’m trying to be professional, I still have about 70 business cards with @Legokid3000 on them. But rest assured, I’m squatting on @KPennyfeather, and lobbying to acquire the dormant @Pennyfeather on a monthly basis.