Were you surprised to pick up the Rising Star GMA Award?
Yes – when you’re up against guys who are doing a really great job, as all the other nominees are, then you never come into these things thinking you’re going to win.
Every one of the other nominees has worked their cherries off during a recession that has seen companies tightening their belts – and every one of them could have justifiably walked away with the award. That said, going into it I did hope I’d done enough sweating, keyboard hammering and trans-Atlantic jet lag suffering to give myself a decent shot. It was definitely a lovely surprise, and I think my lack of a coherent speech after a relatively small amount of beer demonstrates that I wasn’t expecting anything.
How did you break into video games journalism?
I used to read my dad’s copies of ST Format way back when, and I think it was at that point that the structure and style of game reviews, which Future Publishing played a huge part in defining, became ingrained.
As I grew up I read a wide range of Future’s mags and so when I got to university I went for the position of games editor on the student newspaper. The previous guy had worked at GAME and used his student discount to buy and review games, but I couldn’t afford to do that, so I got in touch with PRs from various companies, and ended up with at least one new game to review every week. That impressed the guys at PC Format, who gave me my first job writing about technology and games.
What do you feel was behind your success this year?
I’ve really tried to broaden OXM’s reach beyond the printed page since I joined the magazine a year ago. We’re currently producing videos that appear on Inside Xbox – the dedicated video channel found on the Xbox 360. While it’s a lot of effort to juggle my mag duties and put together interesting videos – something that
often sees me sprinting between my desk and the video studio – it’s also allowed us to do some pretty exciting stuff. Hopefully I’ve also managed to write the odd amusing review from time to time as well.
What has been the highlight of your early career so far?
Well I think picking up the award voted for by my peers certainly rates pretty highly!
Aside from that obvious highlight, I think that the sheer breadth of this entertainment medium has allowed me to indulge a lot of my interests in the line of duty. Being invited to the X-Games in LA to interview Ken Block and watch the rally racing was brilliant and I’ve recently undergone the terrifyingly brief transformation into a DJ for a series of videos relating to DJ Hero. Most DJs would sell their granny to warm up for DJ Shadow, and I somehow managed to do it twice in the same week. That was pretty special.
Who and what have been the biggest influences so far for you?
It’s strange because as I’ve grown up reading Future mags, a lot of the people I enjoyed reading and that influenced me as a writer are people who I guarantee have no qualms about getting embarrassingly drunk with. I don’t want to mention their names because it’ll make them blush – plus I’ll inevitably forget someone and tumble off their Christmas card list.
Nowadays, like everyone, I’m impressed by Charlie Brooker’s talents as a writer – and the fact that he’s an ex-games journo is certainly heartening for
people who crave some sort of mainstream legitimacy.