GMA Hall of Fame: Keza MacDonald

As we head towards this year’s Games Media Awards on Thursday October 18th, we look back at previous winners to find out what winning meant to them, what advice they’d give to rookie games journalist, the best press trips they’ve attended and more.

To kick it off this year, we speak to IGN’s Keza MacDonald, winner of last year’s GMA best specialist writer for online…

How did it feel to win a Games Media Award last year?

It was great. I think the best thing was how nice people were about it afterwards, too – people think there’s a lot of bitterness and backbiting andunpleasant competition in games journalism, but that’s never been my experience.

What do the GMAs mean to the games press community?

I think they mean a lot. Obviously if you work on the internet you get constant feedback on your work from readers- and not just the ‘MAKE ME A SAMMICH U STUPID BITCH’kind,either; loads of them arevery appreciative and nice. But recognition from your peers is different.

Other than winning a GMA, what has been your biggest achievement to date?

I speak four languages, but then so does most of Europe, so I guess that’s not that impressive. I mean, babies can learn languages, and they’re hardly towering intellects. Japanese was by far the hardest.

Which of your competitors do you admire, and why?

In terms of individual people, I really admire Ellie Gibson, whom I met about six months into my career in games journalism and who’s been a great friend to me, and Oli Welsh, whom I also respect enormously. I worked with Eurogamer for many years before I joined IGN, and I’m continually impressed with the talent they attract and showcase.

Who’s your favourite non-games writer?

Jonathan Franzen, David Mitchell (the Cloud Atlas guy, not the Peep show one), Douglas Coupland, GabrielGarcia Marquez, David Foster Wallace. (I should probably have more women in there.)

What’s the best press trip you’ve been on?

Going to Dubai with Namco Bandai in 2011was absurdly luxuriant, but from an experiential point of view, EVE Fanfest this year was one of the most fascinating weekends of my life. Seriously, at one point people were cheering a gigantic projected image of a floating rock. I had a cigarette with three guys who’d just gotten their internet spaceship collective’s logo tattooed on their bodies. It was beyond belief.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Think about how you talk to people (wise words from my mother). If you’re dismissive or aggressive or otherwise rude towards someone, especially in this industry, you may well meet them again (or find yourself pitching some freelance to them some day). So don’t be a jerk. This is especially important in the age of Twitter, I think, where it’s way too easy to run your mouth off and regret it later.

And what advice would you give to someone hoping to work in the games media space?

Don’t let yourself be exploited. There’s a lot of competition at entry level and we all have to work our way up, but that doesn’t mean you should let people treat you disrespectfully or profit from your hard work without renumerating you appropriately.

If you weren’t working in games media, what would you be doing?

I was going to be a professor – my mother would have been so proud. Of German or Comparative Literature, probably. Most likely German, because if you get a PhDfrom a German Universityyou get to be a Doktor with a K, which is awesome.

Who would be your Games Media Award Legend?

Tony Mott. I didn’t get to work with him for very long, but Edge was probably the main reason I wanted to write about games when I was growing up.

The Games Media Awards will this year take place on Thursday October 18th and return to the super chic Vinopolis, Bankside.

Russell Kane, winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, will be the host for the evening.

You can follow the gma twitter feed at @GamesMediaAward.

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