Our month-long Jobs In Games special, in association with OPM, once again turns its attention to careers in the UK games media.
We’ve already looked at what you can expect if you become a staff writer, but now we explore what you can look forward to should you rise to become editor. To give us an insight into the responsibilities of an editor, we speak to GameSpot UK’s Guy Cocker.
How would you summarise your role?
I’m the editor of GameSpot UK, which means I manage the editorial content coming from our London office.
What are your main reponsibilities?
My job is to lead the UK editorial team and make sure we’re producing the best gaming coverage possible. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to hire and develop some incredibly talented and hard working people, so I see it as my main responsibility to support them as best I can.
The main thing that I spend my day doing is communicating with all of the many GameSpot UK stakeholders, such as games publishers/developers, colleagues within our parent company CBS Interactive, and other GameSpot territories, such as Asia, US and Australia.
How did you get your job?
During my final year of my business degree, I wrote to the games editor of website Virgin Student to see if he would let me write some games reviews. After some harassment, he caved in and let me write reviews of games he wasn’t interested in, as well as movies and events.
After university, I came to London to work as a Staff Writer for Home Cinema Choice magazine, which I did for a year before being approached to join the launch team of CNET UK. After another year covering technology, I requested to work on the launch of GameSpot UK within the same company, and after four years and two different roles, I was promoted to Editor of the site.
What special skills or qualifications did you need?
When I got my first full-time journalism job, I’d say that being educated to degree level, having writing experience, and possessing an interest in the subject manner made me appeal to the employer. Today, it’s even more competitive – in addition to the above, I’d expect any editorial candidate on GameSpot to have experience in podcasting/video presenting plus a social media presence, as these things are fun, cheap, and show that you have the initiative and drive needed to do the job.
At management level, I’ve met editors who come from completely different backgrounds and possess very different skill sets–there is no definitive list of what works. However, if you can be cool under pressure, a compassionate leader, and a versatile communicator, then you’ll be well on your way to a position in editorial management!
Describe your average day. What do you do?
GameSpot runs a round-the-clock operation, so each territory hands over to the next at the end of the working day. First priority in the morning is answering urgent emails from the other international teams that have come through overnight. I then check over the site to make sure everything looks ok in terms of promotion, and read/watch anything important that has been produced from the global teams. If I have time, I’ll also dip into our forums, check our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and have a look at other gaming websites and forums to see what’s going on. The rest of my time is spent in internal and external meetings, attending events, and if I’m really lucky, producing a piece of editorial or appearing on a video or podcast.
What is the best part of your job?
There are loads of great things about the job, but the main one is getting to work with really passionate, talented people. And that’s not just within my team – that applies to the entire games industry.
What is the worst part?
The ratio of work to time is at least 2:1, so there’s always something cool we have to turn down, an idea we can’t quite make work, or an email from a writer looking for advice that I can’t respond to. In turn, you have to actively book time out each day to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
What tips would you give to anyone applying for a similar position?
It’s more challenging than ever before! If you’re working your way up, I’d advise mastering social media, learning about video production and website development, and building up a network of contacts in journalism, PR and management. If you’re looking to move up to become the editor of a website, ask your current company if you can get training in leadership, time management, and communication – these were all essential to me during my time at GameSpot.
I’d also advise working on as many different projects as possible, even if they’re not directly related to your job. You’ll learn what makes different people tick, experience projects that fail, and increase your influence within your organisation, which are all really important things for an editor to do.
What are your long-term career plans?
I’m still incredibly passionate about games and technology, so I’m hoping to stay within that area for the foreseeable future. On a personal level, I really enjoy working with organisations such as the BBC and BAFTA, so I’m currently working on some projects in those areas.