Twinfinite has been at this for a year and five months now, and no matter how much experience we get going to conventions together (PAX East 2013 was our third, big team, convention to cover so far), I always feel like we messed up immensely and that I’m the worst and that we’re completely unprofessional and oh my God.
Sit down, let’s have a chat. I want to use my knowledge of how not to be in hopes of showing start-up independent game sites how they should be. No one told me about these skills that I’d need when covering a convention — seriously, like, no one. Maybe they thought it’d be funny.
Look, I’m not stupid. I was aware there’d be a lot of walking when covering massive conventions in big cities. But no one told me I needed to actually run. I think I’ve run more in the past year and five months than I have in 22 years. The messed up thing is that I’m not even kidding. If you’re as terrible at time as I am, you’ll find yourself running to appointments. Hell, even if you’re not late you’ll still be sprinting like a tiny ant in a crowd. There’s just something in the air that causes anxiety and incites a sense of urgency. Maybe it stems from a desire to escape the smell.
Odds are you’ll have a lot of appointments and guess what? They’re all at opposite ends of each other. It seems physically impossible but they somehow manage to be. It’s commendable, if anything.
It’s with a fine combination of not caring about looking like a fool and maintaining eye contact that I’ve been able to fool all of my friends in the industry that I’m actually a charismatic person and that they should talk to me. If you’re not good at talking to people, you better start getting good; you’ll be doing a lot of it. No, it’s not all about playing video games. It’s like, 1% about playing video games. *Note: That’s actually wrong. But it’s not all about it, I swear!
You have to be able to talk to people and make friends and “network” (man, I hate that term) with other industry folks (and you have to be able to not say the word folks). These will be your peers! These will (hopefully) be your friends! They’re a constant source of support, fun, advice, and (let’s face it) competition. Don’t even get me started on how much you’ll need to communicate with publishers and developers to even get access to their games.
Turns out having a media badge doesn’t make you royalty. I asked around for my tiara and La-Z Boy recliner to play some games, but was instead treated to long lines. PAX East didn’t always mean press priority to play the games or see the panels. You had to be able to wait in line to play some of them. It’s a consumer centered show so that’s totally understandable. Just give the person telling you where the line is a smile, say thank you, go to the back of the line, and proceed to grumble under your breath.
Oh this doesn’t apply if you have other stuff to do. Remember to prioritize; if a game is going to take you an hour to get to play, get to your next appointment (see the first skill).
I mean being able to quickly take out your business card in a calm, cool, fashion. Don’t throw your business card at a person’s face. That’d be hilarious, though. I’m the worst at taking things out of my pockets and handing them to people. Whenever I pay for something in cash, I look like the person behind the counter is robbing me. I apologize in advance if you receive my business card and feel shame as though you just forcefully took it from me.
For that matter, have nice business cards. Get a business card holder. Make everything about you fancy; like Don Draper except for video games and instead of a suit, you’re wearing a sweater that says N7.
Get confidence. If you can’t find any within you, fake it and it’ll eventually come around. Any person that’s met me has been fooled by that. You got a press pass, you have the shot to be on the same level as the other journalists you love and follow. Talk to the people who make the games you’re absolutely passionate about with confidence that you have the ability to do just as good of a job. If you believe in yourself, others will too. Show it off with all you do, even in the way you hand them your contact information.
There’s not much to say about this except when you ask something and someone says no, you have to ask someone else. Or ask them again — make them crack. But not too much. Like an egg. But no, wait, they’re people. Look, just don’t give up.