INTERVIEW: The Scotsman

Were your surprised by your win?
I really was. I’ve only been writing my column for just over a year now, and it isn’t the most noticeable section in The Scotsman, sitting buried under the weekend crossword and next to a ‘funny internet links’ info panel. I never once thought that it would even get nominated for a GMA, so it was definitely a welcome surprise and by far the highlight of my year.

Why do you feel your column has been such a hit?
Gaming in Scotland is becoming more prominent. In the summer, Video Games Live made its debut north of the border and the Edinburgh Interactive Festival enjoyed another successful year.

It’s taken a while, but gaming is something everyday people want to read about in Scotland, whether they want to know what game they should buy come pay day or if they are unsure what games their child will like. I try to distance myself from using too much jargon and get across if the game is worth your hard-earned cash or not. I’m so grateful that people picked up on this and voted for me.

What have been your biggest influences?
I probably read games magazines more than I did books when I was young, which is probably a very bad thing, but I knew games journalism is what I what I wanted to do early on. GamesTM played a big part too.

Since issue one, I was hooked on it and I really tapped into their style and enjoyed the way they were as nuts about retro games as I am. While influential, I feel bad for my old university lecturers who were tired of me submitting a games-related article or review every essay. Sorry guys!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
A few years ago, myself and a few local games journalists worked at a culture magazine called The Skinny. We all got a bit fed up with the lack of gaming press up here, as there are tons of stories going unreported.

You have Interactive Tayside, Dare To Be Digital and the slew of Dundee developers all getting exposure in England, but up here it’s a rare thing. Recognising this gap in the market, we got together in July this year and launched Square-Go magazine, where I am now features editor. To know we created that from scratch is probably my biggest achievement so far.

How important do you feel newspapers are for the future of the games industry?
I think they definitely will be important, but in what capacity I am not too sure. I learned the hard way that you can’t simply pitch to an editor that they really should be running a games section somewhere. I tried that once and found it’s very hard to get people to come round to your way of thinking when you’re pitching something they don’t understand. I think more news articles on topical subjects would be a good start.

How would you like to see the national press evolve in terms of its treatment of video games?

I’ve pitched to many papers in Scotland and nine times out of ten the reply is: ‘Nice story, but where’s the human interest angle?’ I often feel that the Scottish press tends to run with a gaming story with a negative human interest slant, such as demonising a violent game.

However, if the stigma surrounding games took a back seat, then we would see some truly valuable gaming features in papers. Why not run a piece on game design university courses or Government proposals to give developers a tax break for example?

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