The highs and lows of games journalism: an interview with Alice Clarke
Alice Clarke, an award-winning freelance games journalist, copywriter and a regular columnist for The Age, had an unconventional start to her career in the industry.
She says one of the best pieces of advice she was given in her career came from her mentor, and is a philosophy she still lives by.
“Every day the clock resets to zero in journalism. It doesn’t matter how good you were yesterday, it doesn’t matter how much you sucked yesterday. All that matters is what you produce today.”
How did you get your start in games journalism?
So I started off specialising in writing about television, I freelanced for the Green Guide for a bit, and then went over to Sunday Herald Sun. In 2007, I reviewed the PlayStation 3 and Heavenly Sword … then a little bit later, the entertainment editor asked around, “hey, does anybody know a nerd?” because his game reviewer just quit. And the TV guide editor I was writing for said, “hey, I know a nerd!” And then I did their game reviews every week for 11 years.
Why do you like working in games journalism?
I like getting to discover new stuff that I wouldn’t have tried or seen otherwise. There’s been so many games that I would never have played if I didn’t have to review it that I ended up loving, [like the] the original Forza Horizon. I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I was a hardcore Forza Motorsport fan, I [thought] I would never touch any of this casual stuff. And now it is my favourite game in the whole world. It is the best thing.
What are some of the highlights and challenges of working your round?
I think I’ve loved the way the games industry has evolved over the last decade, it’s changed and grown so much, and I’ve loved being able to … tell the stories of the people who’ve gone in and out of it. [However], there’s no money, there’s no space, the big bosses don’t understand games or technology, or understand why the story should run.
How do you manage the stress of tight deadlines?
I mostly eat my feelings. That’s quite important. If anybody comes up with a good way to manage that stress, I look forward to hearing it. I certainly don’t know any working journalists who manage it well.
What’s your philosophy on what makes for a great games journalist?
Someone who cares, and someone who is able to communicate big ideas in a way that even somebody who has never played a game can understand.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to break into the round?
It’s incredibly competitive. But I think while there are fewer spaces to break in, I think the ways to break in remain the same – you have to have a unique voice, you have to have a unique set of skills. You have to have really good ideas, and you have to have the guts to just pitch them.