This is not an exit

A Fond Farewell

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

If you follow me on Twitter or we’re Facebook friends, you might notice something different about my posts today. Around this time last week I was fervently reading through press releases and combing the farthest reaches of the Internet for news about video games. Not today.

Friday was my last day with DualShockers. Will I miss it? Of course. But I’m in a crucial period in my development as a journalist. In order to make the most of my time at the University of Oregon, I decided it was best to utilize the resources at the School of Journalism and Communication, from the equipment at the checkout room to the excellent faculty. I’ll share more of my plans and projects in later posts but for now I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and gained during my tenure with the site.

I love video games. We all know that. I also love journalism (I hope we knew that as well.) So joining a team where I could satiate my appetite for both was enticing. I applied on a whim, seeing that the jobs page on a blog I read every so often advertised an open writing position. So I applied, I got the gig and I wrote about video games for a bit. That’s the long and short of it.

One of the biggest take-aways I got from working for the site was the difference between writing for print and online publications. Until I started with DualShockers, I had almost exclusively worked for newspapers. For the first time ever, I was in control of when my stuff would appear for my readers (with a few key exceptions). When I scheduled a post, it went up then and there. I didn’t have to wait for a somebody to take the photo to go with my story or for a designer to marry the elements on any software. There wasn’t a press standing by, waiting to print the final product. No, I just hit that “schedule” button in WordPress and let the Internet take care of the rest.

Of course, publishing online is vastly different when it comes to distribution. In order to have my stuff read, I had to go out and promote it. As I said before, much of this was done via Facebook and Twitter. But in order to maximize our reach, editors would have us post to sites like N4G and Reddit in order to gain as many readers as possible. Sure, I’d Tweet or post my stories when I worked for other publications, but my print products had their own visibility. It felt as though my work for DualShockers was just waiting for me to promote it.

Sure, the site has its own installed reader base, but it was up to me to make sure folks who didn’t make DualShockers a part of their routine would find something interesting to read. I hope that I succeeded.

I can say without hesitation that one of my absolute favorite assignments was when I covered the proposed blackout of the Battlefield 3 servers by an online community. Sure, the effects of this blackout were questionable (EA already got their money. What else would they lose if people didn’t play for 24 hours?) But the most thrilling thing about the whole ordeal was that I finally had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a source for a news story. Oh, and I was sourced by Owen Good. That was pretty neat, too.

For the most part, writing news for a games site means you sift through press releases and videos, lifting the pertinent information and crafting it into a meaningful message. It’s tougher than it sounds. Trust me. And when there are opportunities to talk one-on-one with somebody in the industry, it isn’t something you can do from Eugene, Ore. Why? Because everyone’s either based in New York City, Washington state, San Francisco, blah-da-blah-da-blah. You get the idea.

So to be at the forefront of a breaking news event, no matter how small, meant a lot to me. In fact, it might very well be why I decided to step down from my position as a staff writer. Much as I enjoyed working with everyone on the site, I had a thirst for frontline news coverage that couldn’t be satiated by what I was doing there. I wanted to talk to people. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to scratch an itch that started when I started at my high school’s newspaper.

It’s not that I couldn’t do this with DualShockers. There are plenty of stories in the realm of gaming that involve people. But not enough of them allowed me to meet up with somebody and have a conversation. I couldn’t sit down with a developer, designer or high-score earner very easily and get a feel for who they were, what they wanted out of life or where they were going. I have plenty of opportunities to do that in Eugene, so that’s what I’ll be working on. I’ve also got a lot of work to do in order to sharpen my skills as a journalist and I’m working on that with a few professionals.

Over the next ten weeks I’ll resume my work as the copy chief for Flux, the School of Journalism and Communication’s flagship magazine. I’ll also contribute a piece or two to OR Magazine, a mobile publication advised by Ed Madison, a founding producer from CNN. I enrolled in a photojournalism course to better acquaint myself with the Rebel XS I bought nearly three years ago before I invest in other, more costly gear. I’m also sifting through story ideas to produce freelance work and updating this blog a bit more often.

I can’t thank the editors at DualShockers enough for the opportunity to cover my favorite industry. I made some good friends there and I’ll be watching closely to see where it goes. But right now I’ve got to focus on sharpening those journo skills. It’s not like my content production will be any less, though. It’s just that it’ll be geared more toward my growth as a visual storyteller than anything else. You excited? I sure am.

Although I’ve shown my gratitude for the people who run the site, I’m even more grateful for you. Who? You! The person reading these words! If it weren’t for the folks who take the time out of their busy lives to read what I’ve got to say about, well, anything, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Who knows: I might return to video games journalism in the future. For now, why don’t you just check out the 14 reviews I wrote during my time with DualShockers:

The Network
1,000 Tiny Claws
Super Mario 3D Land
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Mario Kart 7
Trine 2
Twisted Metal
Resident Evil: Revelations
Rhythm Heaven Fever
Asura’s Wrath
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D

But what do YOU think?

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