I’ve been writing about video games for quite some time now. It started with some blogs and then my own website. After that, I transitioned to other websites before deciding I wanted to get paid for my work. 2015 was the first full year of freelance writing for me and I’ve had the luxury of writing a ton of different news, preview, and feature stories. With one full year of paid writing under my belt, I thought I might put together a list of my most memorable stories in 2015.
I’ve written a ton of news on IGN. I’ve covered dozens of Street Fighter tournaments at Red Bull eSports and put together weekly features on Street Fighter players and personalities over a stretch of 30 weeks, missing only one week while I was on vacation. I traveled more than I ever have in my life, going to Evo 2015 in Las Vegas, Tokyo Game Show 2015, and PlayStation Experience/Capcom Cup in San Francisco. That doesn’t include trips to Tempe, AZ for my ASU graduation and my family’s vacation to San Francisco in the summer.
I spread my writer wings and had stories published at Paste, Pixelkin, Playboy, PC Gamer (that’s a lot of Ps), Games Radar+, and I snuck one more story in before the end of the year at ZAM.com, formerly Allakhazam’s, which I visited regularly back when I played EverQuest.
Surprisingly, picking out some of my most memorable work is tough. Every creative person is their own worst critic but the amount of work I’ve done in 2015 is pretty overwhelming, and I feel like I could have done so much more.
At any rate, here’s what I feel is the most memorable work I’ve done in 2015.
This is a catch-all because I do so much work for IGN at any given time. I love being part of a team that contributes to IGN news. I could be writing Street Fighter V news in one story and Disney shitcanning Slave Leia merchandise in the next. As a fighting game enthusiast, I also gained a bit of a reputation I’m proud of and I find a bit funny. Any time a fighting game related news story comes along, it’s almost expected I’m on it and I’ve even had editors leave them for me. I’ve written a ton of news stories on Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter V on IGN this year.
Red Bull eSports Casuals
Another catch-all because these stories all mean something to me. I get a chance to talk to all kinds of people involved in the Street Fighter scene. Many of them I admire and most I had never met. My goal is to find the story within each person that goes deeper than just Street Fighter. I’ve become good friends with some of the most popular players and personalities and, at times, I’ve been inspired by their stories even though I’m the one writing them. I got to sit down with Evo 2013 champion Ho Kun Xian, Capcom Cup 2015 champion Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue, Red Bull Kumite winner Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi, and “The Murderface” Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, as well as speak to people like James Chen and Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez. Aside from those stories, three that stand out are Femi “F-Word” Adeboye because I was the first to find out he was having a baby and John Choi and “LI Joe” Ciaramelli because those were very personal stories that were well-received.
You had to have been there. The final day of the Ultra Street Fighter IV Evo 2015 tournament was unbelievable. The matches were some of the best ever and I did what I still believe is my best work to date. I was a madman running back and forth between my laptop and taking pictures near the stage. At one point, I had to run to the back of the giant room to charge my laptop by the bathroom. Somehow, I managed to build a story and update it as the matches took place. I was in the zone like I’d never experienced. Within minutes of Yusuke Momochi winning Evo, I had a story published on Red Bull eSports.
This is one of the first times I felt I was doing legitimate journalism. Games media is a bit weird and sometimes what we do doesn’t necessarily qualify as “real journalism”, not that it isn’t real work. At any rate, a major player lost his sponsor due to some internal drama and I did some investigative journalism, interviewing the parties involved. The result of that was putting together a feature that broke the reasons why the sponsor had dissolved and I had a story that was sourced by other websites.
I got David “Dacidbro” Broweleit on Playboy.com. Of course, it was a story about competitive Catherine at Evo. To be honest, I was shocked when this was published. I thought I screwed the pooch on this one. This story hit at a time I was in a creative wasteland and I had a hell of a time getting it together. Thankfully, I managed to finish it and after some time, it finally went up. It was really cool to focus on a niche competitive scene in an already niche scene to begin with and I got to say you could read Playboy for one of my stories.
Hands on with Fighting Games at Tradeshows
Landing a pitch is great but there’s no greater feeling than being asked to write about a game by an outlet. This year, I was asked to preview Rising Thunder and Street Fighter V at PAX Prime by Pixelkin and Street Fighter V again later in the year at Tokyo Game Show 2015 by IGN. Writing about fighting games comes naturally to me. A lot more so than anything else so it was easy to these types of previews done and I was honored to have editors ask me to do the work for them. Hanging out with IGN staff in Tokyo was kind of surreal and that will always be a special moment for me.
Look, I really don’t ONLY write about fighting games. This year was a bit of a breakthrough in writing previews. Dropsy was one of my favorite ones for IGN. The game is so weird and good and it was a pleasure talking with developer Jay Tholen. I still hate clowns but I loved playing Dropsy and hugging everything and everyone I possibly could.
A lot of people helped make 2015 a successful year of writing for me. I’d thank everyone personally but I’m afraid I would forget someone. But it was a team effort so thanks to my family, friends, editors, the fighting game community, and everyone who reads and supports the work I and all of my peers do at various outlets. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be writing in 2016.