Kotaku staff writer Jimothy Timmonds was gracious enough to sit down and discuss with me his job at the gaming site and how he doesn’t think people fully appreciate what it take to get articles out there for readers.
“People nowadays [think] a gaming article is…you know, just put it through the grinder and another one will come out.” Timmonds said. “They don’t realize how much work goes into writing about games. There’s just a ton of research.”
What kind of research? He clarified:
“You’re working with experts. I studied the Cuphead tutorial for days to make sure I really understood the mechanics. I watched dozens of cartoons to make sure I really understood the game’s inspiration enough to write about. These are the things you have to do when you write about games.”
Timmonds also mentions working with devs to ensure that he gets early copies of games for review and maybe a merch care package or two. He explains his daily routine of getting up at around 10am, sometimes 10:30 in order for him to be able spend as much of the day as possible playing whatever game he has to play. “Sometimes I even have to skip breakfast, when you’re playing a big open world game, you really can’t afford to take a 10 minute break to have a bowl of Captain Crunch.” He explained to me.
“You might think the hardest part of the job is playing the game but it’s actually thinking of the headlines. Coming up with something that draws clicks is really challenging. You have to make sure it’s not too far off from what the article is about but it’s sensational enough that people feel compelled to click on it over something that’s more well written.”
Timmonds explained to me the process to writing gaming articles usually begins before he’s even played the game. “I usually see enough promotional materials, gameplay videos and the like that I can come up with something that makes it seem like I played the game enough to write about.” He told me. Once he does start playing the game, that takes precedence over the writing and after he finishes playing, he’ll watch a movie or show to unwind before he starts his article.
While in no way do I intend to diminish the often-overwhelming amount of work that goes into writing about video games (the majority of which falls to the grunts rather than leadership), what Timmonds is talking about here sounds suspiciously like a vacation. Sure, it’s probably hard to think of it that way when you’re doing it for work, but come on. You’re playing video games all day, sometimes for free, not back in the office editing grammar mistakes for 12 hours a day at barely more than minimum wage.
A veteran of the industry, Timmonds has written several high profile click bait articles. He plans to continue writing them for as long as someone will pay him to. He hopes that more people will start to see all the hard work that actually goes into games journalism and he believes the best way for that to happen is for them to get proper looks at just what goes into it.
“A lot of people believe very untrue things about our profession like we’re lazy or that we don’t know how to play games and that stems from them not really knowing just what we have to do in order to do our jobs. They just hear others say things or they read patronizing articles that diminish what we do and they think that stuff is true but it’s not.”
There’s no telling what kind of work it will take to get gamers to respect game journalists more but it’s sure to be a great deal more intensive than playing video games all day and writing about them.