In my two year career, working under the banner as a Game Journalist I often get asked this one question: "how do I become one?" That's the wrong question. Instead ask, "why should I become one?" I'm here to tell you to avoid doing what I'm doing because it ain't worth the hassle. Run away, don't look back, and if you still love games do this as a hobby. So to make matters easy: if you live in the Middle East I'm going to be listing three key points on why you should avoid this profession from now and probably forever.
1. No timeIf you haven't guessed by now from the title I don't particularly find this job worth it time wise. I've been sort of fighting a two year battle trying to find a proper balance and, heck, any start up requires time to grow and become something. The problem is I don't particularly have much time for myself. I'm 26 years old and have been married for 2 years. I'm typically a family man who likes to spend time with his parents, brother, and of course my wife. The problem with that is this job, Game Journalism, is practically a 24/7 job. People tell you to take the weekends off but the fact is you still need to report the news, you need to keep the community engaged all the time, and you need beat the competition (who probably have more money and people working). It's that sort of environment you constant have to deal with in order to become recognized. Couple that with another job which you NEED to have in order to survive money wise and you're looking at a life that honestly lives to work and sleep. Of course, one could say that if you enjoy doing what you're doing you wouldn't call it work, I would say the same except, again, I don't have that time. I don't have the luxury of time to script videos, edit them, write articles, write funny stuff on social media, and do an Instagram video all together. Even when I'm relaxing there's a certain limit to how much I can relax before going back and tending to my duties. Again, this is also a job meaning you would need to constantly keep producing a good amount of quality which again takes time.
This has resulted in many bad consequences from me not being able to see my family, and worse, barely spending time with my wife. Honestly, and I'm not exaggerating, I'm lucky if I'm able to spend more than 2 hours a day with my wife. My social life is practically dead, I barely see my friends like 3 times a month, and my personal health has dropped to an all time low thanks to long hours without sleep and not exercising. It's a drag and a huge time waster.
2. No money (at least not enough)Previously I mentioned how I needed to have two jobs in order to survive and it's true. To put it bluntly Game Journalism in the Middle East doesn't pay you jack shit. I conducted an anonymous survey with some Game Journalists in the region and their average salary ranges from 500-1000 USD per month. That's pathetic especially considering the amount of time putting in. It also depends where you live. Certain regions such as Saudi are more generous thanks to companies such as STC and Mobily giving good budgets and even paying for trips to E3. The Saudi gaming community (which is the biggest) also support their channels and sites more for obvious reasons which result in a better pay off. As a person living in Bahrain, I can't begin to describe how jealous I feel. Yet even then the value is diminished thanks to irregular working hours. Again, I stress the fact that at times I would need to balance my life but doing that has become increasingly difficult thanks to my two job life style.
3. PoliticsYou'd think working as a game journalist will end up making you live a fun go happy life when it comes to dealing with publishers, well that couldn't be farther from the truth. This section is a bit touchy so I'll play it as discrete as possible. You see, as you slowly begin developing relationships and growing in the industry you will occasionally run into, what I call, Bullshit Walls. Walls created to usually play favorites with competitors and usually end up screwing you in the process. All the hard work and quality in the world won't save you from these BS Walls and when they appear, they hurt. Because you will naturally feel entitled to get that coverage, to get those ads, to be recognized, and when it doesn't happen it feels like unfair reality biting you in the ass. That happens to me and to others ALL THE TIME. At times it can't be helped. It's no surprise that the gaming industry in this region is still in it's infancy. As such as its fair to expect late review copies, late press releases, and almost no budget for ads. But, that being said, something needs to happen. I've been at this for two years and seeing the same shenanigans happen over and over again is just an insult to my intelligence. The BS Wall needs to come down. We need to grow. We need to live. And this has to stop otherwise we won't grow.
These are just 3 of the major points on why you shouldn't become a Game Journalist in the Middle East. It's not that I hate this job, I'm just exhausted. I'm tired of waking up everyday realizing that I'm still stuck in this limbo lifestyle of work, sleep, eat, and occasionally rest. I want to live my life but I can't escape the fact that working as a Game Journalist, here, isn't what it's cracked up to be. What actually made me jump on this train is because I hated my previous job. I fully believe that most companies in the Arab world that's more than 10 years old will likely suffer from corruption and poor management. I don't want to go back there. I truly enjoy doing what I do. I love writing a piece and hearing people's reaction, I love engaging with said community and talk about my favorite subject in the world: video games. I'm afraid no matter how much I hate it, I simply can't avoid the fact that I love it even more. So while it may be too late for me, you still have a chance. Think about those three points I mentioned and understand that you're not entering a fantasy job where playing games for a living earns you money. You're getting invovled in some greasy shit that will get you dirty and may make you hate life itself. Just know what you're doing and don't be like me. Don't be a fool.