Have you ever read an article or piece of writing about esports and thought, “Wow, I want to do that!”? Along with the meteoric rise of esports, the field of esports writing and journalism has exploded in the past few years. As tournaments and competitions have gotten bigger and flashier, viewership has risen dramatically, as has the demand for recaps, patch note analyses, player profiles, and more. It’s an energetic, growing field, and if you’re passionate about esports and writing, it’s a great way to share your thoughts and skills with the world. I started writing about esports in 2018; since then, I’ve met tons of amazing people, gotten a lot of fun opportunities, and spent time writing about topics that I love.
If you want to become an esports writer but you’re not sure how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Though everyone’s experience is different, there are some practical steps you can take toward a part- or full-time career in esports journalism. Read on for a few tricks of the trade and tips for getting started!
Starting From The Beginning: Specialize!
The first step to getting started in esports writing should be obvious: know your games. The vast majority of writers in the field do it because they love gaming and esports, and you should, too. While having a broad knowledge of most games will help you out, it’s arguably more important to specialize in a few games and get to know them really well. My first writing gig was with The Omnic Post, which covered only Overwatch news; I was already a big fan of the game, but writing pieces like patch note analyses and match recaps helped me become even more familiar with its ins and outs. Websites frequently hire esports writers to cover certain game “beats”: for example, one writer might write mostly about the Call of Duty: Warzone scene, while another takes charge of the CS:GO circuit. There is crossover – if you normally cover the CS:GO beat but no one’s around to write a story on Apex Legends, you might have to handle that – but employers and websites will often ask for writers who specialize in one or a handful of games.
After you’ve chosen a few games to specialize in, get a feel for the kind of writing that’s out there already. Even if you want to cover an angle that no one’s tried yet or write in a unique style, you have to know the rules to break them. This is particularly important if you have a dream website that you want to write for – get familiar with their content! Learn who the major esports writers are and follow them on social media. Read plenty of articles about the games you’re looking to specialize in and examine them closely for style, pacing, content, flow, grammar, and embeds (things like photos, videos, audio clips, etc.). Take notes on what you find and use them as the structure for your own pieces. It also helps to learn general formatting guidelines for the kind of articles you want to write, whether that’s patch note analyses, match recaps, season predictions, player profiles, or anything else.
A note about listicles: articles that function as lists have a bad reputation as “junk food” among readers, but they have their place in journalism. Listicles are about prompting audience response and increasing reach through discussion. If you really want to write them, do what you would with any other article type: learn what makes for a good, engaging list and practice it on your own.
Putting Pen to Paper (Or Keyboard to Screen)
Once you become familiar with the content and format of esports writing, you’re ready to take the next step and write a few pieces of your own. Start your own blog, website, or social media account and start sharing your writing. This can seem scary or intimidating at first, but think about it this way: if you’re interested in esports journalism, chances are good that you have something you wish you could say to the community or to players. Posting your writing out there for the world to see is the easiest way to start doing just that!
If you have a background in English or writing, this part will come easier to you, but I know tons of esports writers who have no formal writing or journalism background. (Honest disclosure: I have an undergraduate degree in English, but I started writing way before I finished it.) All that matters is that you’re able to develop a good ear for article flow and a good sense of grammar, both of which an editor can help you with. It’s more difficult for readers to get to your point if they can’t parse through your grammar and spelling. If writing isn’t your strong suit but you want to get better, practice! Read your work out loud to yourself and note where natural pauses, breaks, and transitions should be to help with flow, or have a friend or family member do the same thing. As mentioned above, you should also pay attention to the writing techniques that other writers use (as long as you’re not plagiarizing their content, of course). These can give you an idea for how you can organize and structure your work most effectively.
The Gig Hunt
Once you have a solid base of writing samples and a good sense of grammar and flow, you can start looking for pitch and job opportunities, if that’s what you’re interested in. Job listings and pitches will frequently ask for examples of previously published writing, but most junior positions state that it’s okay if the work is published on your own blog, website, or social media account. Some of the best websites for finding writing gigs are Hitmarker, Indeed, and Twitter – yes, Twitter! There’s a lot of esports discourse and discussion that goes down on Twitter, and it’s worth the networking and job opportunities to get involved in the scene there. Editors will often post about pitch opportunities that never make it to formal job sites or front pages – that’s how I heard about an opportunity with the website GameSpew, which led to the publication of my article on game environments and COVID-19. If this is the kind of work you’re interested in, do some research on how to write a proper pitch and follow-up email and start sending out ideas. Use the samples and blog articles you’ve written as examples of what you can do. It can be a slow process, so be sure to be patient.
If you’re not interested in making esports writing your job but still want to get your ideas out there, there are plenty of websites and organizations that are looking for freelance writers on a volunteer basis. The Omnic Post was one of these sites, as are several more across many different games. While these sorts of positions are frequently seen as stepping stones to paid jobs, they can also be an outlet for ideas and writing you might not get to publish elsewhere. In addition to participating in Nexus Gaming Series‘ amateur Heroes of the Storm tournaments, I’m also a volunteer writer for their blog. Heroes of the Storm isn’t a game that gets a lot of publicity anymore, but it’s a game I know extremely well and am passionate about. The NGS blog gives me the opportunity to write fun, silly content about one of my favorite games that would probably be rejected elsewhere. Volunteer positions can be a great way to get articles published, practice your writing, and get feedback – just make sure your time isn’t being taken advantage of.
Even for established esports writers, it can be difficult to find things to write about sometimes, particularly on the off-season or when news is slow. If you’re struggling to find things to write about or thinking about how to tap into your creativity, here are a few prompts to consider.
- What’s something about your favorite game that no one’s talking about?
- Do you agree or disagree with a recent patch or major game change that was made? Why or why not?
- Is there a pro player or high-profile streamer you think deserves more attention? How could you feature them?
- What’s your favorite game’s community like? How could it become better?
- What was a surprising part of a recent match? How could you analyze it from a different angle?
- What’s a strong play strategy that no one seems to be using? How could you explain it to readers?
- What are some of the best plays of the last week/month? How could you feature them and put them into context?
There are just a few of the things you could write about if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas. You can also look to real life for ideas: for example, if a game is featured in mainstream media or on TV news, my parents will often ask me to explain and contextualize it, because we all know that games aren’t presented very well through these outlets. Learning to take unique angles and being able to explain yourself well are skills that will serve you well on your writing journey.
Esports journalism is a crowded field and it can be difficult to break into, but it’s also a fun, rewarding job if you enjoy writing and esports. Being able to express your thoughts clearly and effectively is a skill that you can carry into almost any field, and esports writing can help you develop it – not to mention that it feels incredible to see your writing published. I’ve been writing about esports and gaming for 3 years now, and trust me, that feeling never goes away. You also get to meet lots of amazing people, read a lot of interesting pieces, and learn more about gaming. If you work hard and get lucky, it could even become your full-time job! It’s a great field to be in, and I’m thankful every day that I get to write about games.
Now go out and show the writing world what you can do!