The videogame industry is a strange career path. Through years, games became slowly from a simple hobby to a form of art with games such as Okami or Grim Fandango, bringing a new form of artistic expression or deep emotional stake with its story. So for someone who has been raised in the beginning of the gaming culture – the 1980s – passed through generations of console ranging from the Commodore 64 to Xbox 360, I have been blessed to find my way into the industry as loyal pawn in both passion and career.
Starting off as a mere passionate gamer, my love for writing pushed me into videogame journalism in 2003 with small pieces here and there, with the renowned UK magazine Edge, T3 Magazine and Time Out Beirut giving me a chance to share my thoughts. Soon after that, I joined my expertise in professional gaming, and my dream to bring the pro-gaming culture to the Middle East with Lebanese based competitive gaming site At7addak.com.
As per IGN Middle East Nick Rego’s experience as a videogame editor, I’ve drowned into the world of deadlines, NDAs, finding fresh and exclusive news and spending most of my time outside of the country for press conferences like the E3 Expo and Gamescom and title unveil. This became quickly tiresome, but don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed every single bit of this hectic lifestyle, became friends with “celebrities” like Grasshopper Manufactures’ Goichi Suda, Far Cry 3’s Daniel Berlin, Epic Games’ Cliff Blezinski and met legends like Yves Guillemot.
Be kind, respectful, and treat everyone equally, and it will build your trust and credibility to your publishers, journalists and your daily acquaintance.
Nevertheless, I wanted to do something even more prestigious, and my goal was to bring the Middle East higher on the international videogame scene, thus my switch to gaming distribution company Pluto Games in Dubai, as a PR Professional taking care of numerous publishers (Bethesda, Capcom, Disney Interactive, Konami, NCSoft, Tecmo Koei, Microsoft Xbox, 505 Games) and manufacturers like MadCatz.
So what does my job consist of? Well, to simply put it as it is, Videogame Public Relations professionals are the foot soldiers behind the scene of every single title you know. We are the ones that take care of the media, hassle them for coverage, bombard them with press releases, new assets and hectic NDAs, but mostly the ones that make sure our games’ public image looks as good as it can, like bringing Hideo Kojima over to Dubai.
Wait a minute! Does that mean I’m a marketing scheme master that makes any game look good? To be honest, that’s pretty much what we are, but in some cases – like myself – PR professionals take the job to the next level, and turns it into a passion and do anything to share their love for the game and his brand.
For my part, I follow Cliffy B’s personal motto: “To build a brand, you have to be the brand”. This has helped me to be acknowledged for who I am, and respected among others, as I never believe in gaming corporate feud or rivalry, and build my brand image around my products, as well as sharing my thoughts and love for games that are not from my publishers.
Want to get into the gaming industry as a PR, but don’t know how? What I’m going to tell you now might be the most radical and honest advice: You don’t need to study public relations to be a PR Professional! Yes, you’re reading right. I will be the last person on this planet to advise you to learn the job at university, because it will numb your mind, kill your creativity and most importantly turn you into a corporate robot. Your passion for gaming and the industry will help a lot, but you can’t be biased to one product or publisher, as the public will never believe the message.
The most important thing you have to learn is how to be a great influential messenger and how to build your relationships with everyone in general, and this is something you will learn from life, friends and even social media but not from Public Relations 101 at school. Be kind, respectful, and treat everyone equally, and it will build your trust and credibility to your publishers, journalists and your daily acquaintance.
We are all gamers, one family, one community
Finally, one last piece of advice, which should apply on a daily basis, whether you’re hoping to be a PR Professional or just any other gaming related job: We are all gamers, one family, one community. Once you understand that being a Battlefield fan is not better or worse than being a Call of Duty fan, the gaming industry in the Middle East will grow into something larger than words, and will show more maturity and bring us closer to be respected as gamers around the world.