Too many video games is a nice problem to have, right?
We get offered a lot of review codes here at Thumbsticks. Sometimes we’ll get asked if we want a code; other times we’ll just have a review code thrust upon us by an enthusiastic PR person. On some rare occasions we still get physical copies of things, though this is becoming increasingly infrequent in the modern era of digital distribution.
The problem is that there are far, far too many for us to play them all.
Alas, we are mere mortals – we have to succumb to the primitive need for sleep every now and then – and this leads to us declining more review copies than we ever accept. This unfortunately doesn’t sit will with our British sensibilities of politeness and graciously accepting any invitation we’re offered (because our parents taught us it was rude not to).
This is why we’re looking for a horde of new game reviewers.
Game reviewers wanted – who?
We’re looking for competent writers, first and foremost. Honestly, it’s actually easier to teach a brilliant writer how to critique video games than the inverse (to bring an avid gamer with no writing ability up to scratch). Ideally, we’re looking for a balance of the two.
English should be your first language, or if it isn’t, we sure as hell shouldn’t be able to tell it isn’t when reading your copy. You must have an excellent grasp of the language, including spelling and grammar, and any previous writing experience would be lovely. A conscientious approach to your work, including rigorous self-editing before submission, is thoroughly encouraged. There will be positive criticism, feedback, and editorial assistance from the team, but if a piece requires too much time on our part, we’ll either ask you to take another swing at it or have to reject it.
Age, gender, location, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other variable you can think of really isn’t important to us, though you really need to be over 18; partly so we can ensure a level of maturity befitting our site, but also so we’re not violating any labour laws in your country.
Game reviewers wanted – what?
Mostly, we have an overspill of indie games, or those from smaller/more left-field publishers. Typically the majority of these are available for the PC, because this is the most open publishing platform.
You’re therefore going to need a reasonably modern PC in order to be able to play the majority of review copies we get sent, and in most cases, a Steam account. We do sometimes get review copies for other platforms, but as with the physical copies, those are fewer and farther between. It’s far cheaper and easier for a publisher to produce a Steam key than one for PSN or the Xbox store, so even if a game is multi-platform, you can almost guarantee it will be a Steam key you’ll be receiving. Sometimes there are previews, betas, and Early Access games, too.
We can’t however promise they will all be any good. That’s the nature of reviewing, and it will be as much your job to say something isn’t very good – and why – as it is to rave about the great games. It’s important to have the ability to do that in an even-handed way, without gloating or sounding mean.
You’ll get to choose which games you review from the codes we have available, on a first come, first served basis. We’ll never force you to review anything you don’t want to, but if you’re always hanging on for AAA games (or even just for games that you expect you’re going to like) then you may have a long wait. That’s the nature of being a reviewer.
Game reviewers wanted – where?
This really doesn’t matter to us. You could be based anywhere, as long as you’ve got an internet connection, some software to write articles, and your grasp of the English language – and ability to write sparkling, error-free copy – is up to scratch.
Thumbsticks is a British English site, however. This means some words are spelled differently – like ‘colour’ instead of ‘color’, and ’emphasise’ instead of ’emphasize’ – but also that some of the vocabulary is different, like ‘pavement’ instead of ‘sidewalk’, or ‘football’ instead of ‘soccer’. We won’t turn an article away if you get these things wrong, but equally, we’d appreciate you making as much effort in trying to keep up with the differences as we do.
Physical location can also have a bearing on the ability to review certain things, but not through any mechanism on our side. In the rare event that a publisher is sending out a physical copy they may only be able to do so in certain countries, for example, or a writer might only be able to attend a review event if they’re local to it.
Game reviewers wanted – when?
As soon as possible! We have review codes sitting in our inbox that we haven’t been able to service, and those codes could be yours.
There is a question of the timeliness of reviews, however. We’ll usually get sent review codes by publishers a few days in advance, and writers are expected to finish games before delivering a final verdict. Sometimes, you’ll finish a game early and might have to wait for an embargo to lift – that’s a deal we agree with the publisher in exchange for an early copy – before we can publish it.
Other times, a game might be so large (or we might receive it so late) that you run past the release date, and that’s absolutely fine: we would far rather you took your time and did it right, than rushed a game out for its release date deadline and cut corners. Similarly, we might not be able to get hold of a game until after launch, and the same principle applies. Ditto if you already have a game that you’d desperately like to write a review and we’ve not already covered it, incidentally – the more the merrier.
Game reviewers wanted – why?
Only you can answer this question.
Maybe you’re an aspiring writer, video game reviewer, or journalism student, and you’d like to cut your teeth on some real life reviewing? Maybe you’ve got really strong opinions (and the writing ability to back it up) and the world just really needs to hear your critical appraisal of video games? Or maybe you just really love games, have some latent writing ability, and think that reviewing would be fun?
All of these things are great starting points, but it can be a lot of hard work, with scant reward.
Unfortunately, as we’re a growing site, we can’t currently pay for reviews. What we can offer – in addition to the free review copies themselves, which are a bonus – is a great platform to learn your craft, editorial support and training as part of a fun team, and the chance to have your work read by an ever-growing global audience. We’ll also offer other freebies, perks, and access to events as and when they become available.
It certainly beats blogging on your own.
If you’ve read everything above and you’re still interested in becoming a game reviewer here at Thumbsticks, then please get in touch.
Fire an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s our catch-all editorial inbox for prospective writers) with the words ‘Reviewers Wanted’ in the subject line, telling us who you are and why you’d make a great game reviewer.
Please include links to your portfolio or any previously published writing where possible. If you don’t have a portfolio or any published clips that’s not a problem – you can attach a short sample review (around 500 words) to show off your ability. If we like your sample, we may even ask to publish it as your first piece.
We have a favour to ask
Thumbsticks has a couple of main aims. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon.
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