for sale: one (1) video game manual writer

Lmpe ejsy O esmy yp fp? Know what I want to do? Other than learn how to type and the true meaning behind “home row”, that is?

I want to write video game manuals.

I got a chance yesterday to wax poetic about what I want to be when I grow up, and the answer just sort of came to me like a blinding flash of the obvious: I want to write game manuals. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I like to write and occasionally I have been known to play video games. It would make a whole hell of a lot of sense if I could put the two together and somehow still be able to pay rent each month. Whenever I am looking for a job (which seems to happen with startling frequency – good thing I own my own life preserver), I’m inevitably asked “Why don’t you write for a living?” While it’s supremely flattering to think that someone likes my finger words enough to believe that others would pay for the privilege of reading them, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to begin, what to write about, or how to truly form a coherent sentence without abusing my most excellent friend, the dash.

I’ve bandied the idea of game reviews around too, but I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m extremely particular about the games I play (she says, looking at her bookshelf full of DS titles that are rarely touched except when it’s time to trade them in for more), and I don’t think I could do games I hate justice. While I could easily try to submit reviews for the games I do play and enjoy, I really don’t see me making a living at it. How many times can someone read “this game is okay, but it’s no Katamari Damacy” before they just give up? I’m thinking not very many.

I don’t think turning your favourite thing ever into a job is always that smart. You do things as a hobby to relax and get away from the real world, and I’ve seen first hand what happens when worlds collide – things get less fun, and as a being who is solely, 100% completely and utterly all about the fun, I don’t think turning my happy times into a daily grind is a good idea. That’s where game manuals come in. See, I very rarely consult a game manual when I dive into a new title. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not important – most people are not like me and tend to not think they know everything about all games ever, and will actually read or consult the manual before they start to play. Other people are like Ed, and will disgustingly and horribly read game manuals while on the toilet. Game manuals get read. They are important and occasionally awesome. I want to write them for a living – it’s combining two of the five passions in my life (the other three being Diet Coke, scooters, and bugging Ed for a pug) without encroaching on any of my hobbies. It makes perfect sense. I would be an incredible game manual writer. I’m detailed, amusing, anal retentive, and an excellent documentationist. I have a broad background (shut up) in video games, not just as a player but as someone who works in the industry sort of. I am cute and bubbly, and according to the lovely receptionist who ushered me into my meeting yesterday, have both a beautiful smile and first name – very important things in the world of video game manual writing. So, I’m all set.

All I need to do now is find a company looking for a video game manual writer. Naturally, I don’t have any idea how to do this. Short of parking myself on the doorstep of the many game companies in Vancouver and begging them for my dream job, I am at a loss for how to begin. This is what I want to do. How do I get there? Help!

4 thoughts on “for sale: one (1) video game manual writer

  1. Long time reader, first time poster. If you really want to pursue this (sounds like a great dream, by the way), you might want to start with the manuals it sounds like Ed already owns. Look for the publisher information for them and then find the website. You might get extra lucky and they’ll have some kind of “job opportunities” link on their site or you can email them and pester them until they hire you.

    At least you have a dream job. I’m trying to figure out what mine is. Good luck.

  2. Before you can be a professional writer, you’ll need to spend at least 5 years, preferably 10, waiting tables. I’ve seen it all before, and they all do it … and almost all of them stay because the money is so good, and sooo easy….

  3. I love writing. I spent several years writing about games when the multitude of online game sites were actually making money. Then as that dwindled down I moved past games and into the wider realm of computer, Internet, business and e-commerce technology. This was my career spanning the past 11 years. I didn’t wait tables, but rather investigated which publications, both online and print, were making money and sent out my freelance writer resume to every single one of them I could find.

    As a freelance writer I make more than most full-time employees at publications and I also have the luxury of being able to turn down articles that hold no interest for me. If you want to write a game guide (manual)… well….. write one! Write it and self-publish it online. Get feedback, advice and opinion. Then sell it. If you can’t sell it then give it to a reputable online publication that handles game guide content. Free? YES – give it away if you have to. If they publish it under their reputable brand with your name on it, then you will be ‘published’ and it is the first step towards building contacts and an oriented resume. Today many publishers will take online published work as serious as they do printed work.

    One thing I have learned is that it doesn’t matter how wonderful and professional of a writer you are – you still need those industry contacts and proof of ability before the money and jobs will flow. Givinf some writing away for free not only helped me become a better writer and learn industry standards at the same time, but it also gave me a way to find those all so important contacts. Contacts who, later down the road, would recommend me to one editor or another which led to paying work.

    Why not try writing while you are working other jobs, and selling later when you have it in hand and can prove you’re dedicated, capable, and on track.

    I think game writing, or game guides would be something that you would be most excellent at.

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