Games Business

Game Critic Guide: How To Be A Video Game Critic

Photograph of the blog post author, Holly Alïce Carter

Holly Alïce Carter

5.8.2021

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So, you’re thinking of becoming a successful video game critic. Well, let us give you a rundown of what you need to do to achieve this and join one of today’s booming sectors. 

video game critic

Video game critiquing started way back with arcade games like Space Invaders – with pieces airing on TV and printed in newspapers. The first video game centred publications appeared in the early 80s’.

Since then, the industry has blossomed and taken off to become a vital tool for customers and creators alike. This is why we have decided to dedicate this article to the wonderful world of game critics!

Stay tuned for everything you need to know about game critics and how you can become one.

What Is A Game Critic?

PlayStation controller

A game critic is someone who produces critical game reviews – usually via articles published online or in print or videos. This can be a viable career, or simply a hobby. 

Game critics are vital to today’s gaming industry as a large percentage of sales come from people reading others’ opinions, or being recommended a game.

The reviews that people create are also valuable sources of information for game developers, allowing them to improve future titles they release!

What Does A Game Critic Do?

Game critics critique usually upcoming games, to provide potential customers (and anyone interested) with information about the title along with the pros and cons.

These reviews can also include anything included within a game – physical items, downloadable content, or any extra features that may be available.

Game On

gamer live streaming

Critics will spend a lot of their time gaming. A lot. It’s fundamental for them to get a proper feel for the games they review and to ensure they can appropriately weigh up different aspects of them. 

While playing the games, they often take notes to ensure nothing is forgotten and sometimes write while playing instead of waiting until they have finished the game.

Being a video game critic does not mean that you can sit and play your favourites all day – often reviewers must sit through games or genres they don’t like – and let’s not forget the bad games that must be finished for the reviews too. 

Use Their Opinions

man playing console game

The articles and features they produce are not just a review (a buyers’ guide, if you will) – they are an informed opinion piece. Their critical game reviews can also suggest who should and should not purchase a game due to its content or themes. Due to the opinionated nature of critics’ writing, some specialize in different genres or publishers of games – or even keep it to one console, like sites such as PC Gamer or The Nintendo Village! 

Another responsibility of a game critic is to uphold the reputation of the industry – along with spreading knowledge of the gaming business and improving the credibility of game-related work in our society. Games are a legitimate part of today’s culture!

How To Become A Game Critic

To become one of the best video game critics relies on two things: being informed, and growing your name. 

Let’s dive deeper into how you can become a game critic.

Keep Informed

PlayStation controllers

It is vital to be in the know. The way to do this? Keep up with the news surrounding gaming – follow new releases, find new studios and developers.

Read and watch anything and everything you see that is relevant! The more you know, the more up-to-date and informed your work will be, which will tell people you mean business. 

Be Everywhere!

someone playing Minecraft

Getting the work and the name out there can be tricky, but there are quite a few ways to do this. Gaming reviews are published anywhere and everywhere; magazines, blogs, vlogs, websites – you name it!

There are so many outlets and so many ways to carve a place in the industry for your own writing. A lot of reviewers are now forging their own path with websites and blogs, Discord communities, YouTube channels, and social media under the same name to bring in as many followers and readers across the board as possible. Networking is absolutely key. 

Professionalism Is Key

gaming headphones and mouse

It is also worth mentioning, whichever avenue you choose – do it well. For example, if you are going to make videos, invest in some good quality equipment to make professional content. The better it looks and sounds, the better you will look and sound. Recommended equipment includes a quality microphone and camera, and a decent capture card and/or device for whichever systems you are working with. Some can be a lot more confusing – such as Nintendo’s Switch – whereas the PlayStation and Xbox consoles have built-in gameplay capturing features. Next up is an editing program or two. 

One worthy way of gaining some recognition is to get your work published with or on an already established brand. By doing this it will give a professional place to direct any employers or collaborators, and can also gain suitable feedback from more experienced people. Remember that networking we mentioned? This is it. Send your work to recognized publishers and you never know what will happen!

By creating and collating your own work, it will provide you with a portfolio, which in turn will be vital for getting noticed by bigger companies. A degree or education can also help with this (more on that later…)

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Game Critic?

play has no limits on TV screen

The good news is, there are no required qualifications you need to get before becoming a video game critic. Nevertheless, there are some skills and credentials that can benefit you in your pursuit of becoming a game critic. 

A good analytical skill is a bonus – as well as captivating and persuasive writing abilities. If starting a video-based profile it is helpful to have editing and filming skills, and if building a website or social media, graphic design skills are beneficial. 

In terms of actual degrees or qualifications that can help, anything related to writing, media or language is a plus. An obvious one is journalism – this type of education would arm you with the skills necessary to write captivating articles and conduct proper research. Writing courses can refine previous talent, and give insight into how to write for different audiences. 

How To Become A Game Critic Without Qualifications

gaming equipment

One can simply walk into a games critic path without formal education or qualifications.

As nothing is required, it can be a little daunting to start completely fresh. Here we have some tips on what to do to start out professionally:

Climb Your Way Up

The oldest trick in the career book is to start at the bottom and work your way up.

By gaining an entry-level job, or a voluntary job, you can gain valuable experience. Once you’re in a suitable role or company, the only way is up!

Tailor Your Experiences

A good way to ensure you’re noticed for the right position is to tailor your CV or portfolio to fit the role you want.

Previous work can be molded to focus more on writing, or social media – or even presentation skills.

Sideways Movement

Another way to slide into a game critic job is to get a different type of job in the gaming industry and move when an opening arises – once you have any game-related positions on your CV, you will be taken more seriously.

Game Critic Salary

stranger things Gameboy game

In terms of salary, earnings can wildly differ.  Do you have a full-time salaried position? Is it a freelance job? Is it a pastime for your evenings and weekends? The ways you work and places your work goes completely change how much you can earn.

Some publishers pay by the article, starting at about £10 (if not a voluntary position), whereas if you get a full-time writing career, you can earn £50,000 a year or more. If you take a more social media and online approach, then there are even more factors – how many viewers are there? Do you have sponsors or any ad revenue? Do you get donations? The possibilities for earning are vast and varied and depend completely on your own situation.

Now You Know How To Be A Game Critic

game over on Pac-man game

And there we have it! Your guide on how to make your way as an insightful game critic, filled with tips and tricks to help you go forth and prosper as a qualified and successful reviewer.

If you’ve read this article and the role of game critic sounds perfect to you, maybe this is your dream career! Good luck!

Whilst you’re here why not read up on some of our other games industry-related articles? How To Start A YouTube Gaming Channel, What Is The Role Of AI In The Gaming Industry? And How To Become A Computer Programmer In The Gaming Industry are all full of insightful information.

Are You In The Gaming Industry?

Want to read more about the gaming industry? Then check out our blogGame publishers and developers, what can we do for you? Our incredible music licensing service can help you streamline the way you license high-quality music and commission original compositions for your gameplay, apps, and advertising campaigns including YouTube and social media. Fill out our Service Requests form to get started!

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