(Alternate title: “That’s interesting, all former Kotaku interns appear to be listed dead or missing.”)
I have a confession to make: I know nothing about video games.
I used to think I did. I routinely play or watch my best friend or boyfriend play the latest titles on the Wii, XBox 360 and Playstation 3 as soon as they are released. I’ve been playing RPGs since I was in elementary school. I laugh at Penny Arcade.
But nope. Compared to the knowledge of the Kotaku community, editors, writers, and especially commenters, I don’t know a thing.
In other words, the first thing I had to do to intern at Kotaku was to get over myself.
As one of the top video game blogs on the Internet (the top one in fact, if you judge by Technorati), Kotaku has the largest readership out of anything I’ve ever written for. So before now, making an error wasn’t a big deal. Of course, making an error is NEVER a good thing in journalism, but the stakes have never been this high for me. Last time it happened, while I was working for the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, I received a single phone call from a local citizen that I had spelled his name wrong.
This time, in my article, While Pokémon Come and Go, The Healing Center Stays the Same, at least ten people noticed that I mixed up the order on Emerald and Fire/Leaf. It was definitely embarrassing. I both admired how deeply people cared about the subject matter, and felt humbled to realize I knew much less than I thought.
So the biggest impact of my internship so far is that the importance of fact-checking has been magnified for me.
By now you’re probably asking, what about the glamorous side of video game journalism, Lauren?
Well, as much as I love my internship at Kotaku, I haven’t encountered that. Sometimes the editors get cool promotional items from companies, to play games before they’re released, and to attend events for free, but does anyone really expect that the intern gets to do that? I didn’t, so I haven’t been disappointed.
I want to let you know: interning at Kotaku is hard. I work every week day for at least a few hours, I do a lot of research and copy editing, I don’t always get to write stories. When I built the fighting game infographic, I had less than a day to turn it around. The bulk of my work involves seeking out guest writers and guest blog posts on games to republish (let me know if you’ve seen a good one recently!)
Sure, the editors are incredible to work with and being in the Kotaku chat room has me laughing out loud at least once a day, but let’s not get away from the point.
Brian Crecente didn’t put up this photo in his intern request article for nothing! It’s a fantastic internship and I would love to intern there for the rest of my life if I could (except I kind of need to find a job that pays money). But a lot of people I talk to seem to have a glamorized idea of what working in game journalism is.
Just like any other field, you have to work your way up. I think I work a lot, but Brian, Stephen, the Mikes, Luke, and Owen work around the clock. When it comes to putting out a breaking story, they drop everything to put it up in the earliest and most accurate way. It’s an intense job, and the deadlines never stop. It’s also often a thankless job, with more criticism than praise for articles.
If you’re looking for a career in video game journalism, it’s not just going to materialize overnight. The editors at Kotaku work harder (and at the very least, longer hours) than the employees anywhere else I’ve interned or worked. When they play advance copies of games, it’s on a deadline, not for fun. When they attend conventions like E3, they’re working constantly to cover them.
So how’s my internship going? It’s a great experience. However, it’s far from the paradise of nonstop gaming and little work that some people imagine it to be.
If you have specific questions about my internship, ask me in the comments.