Nathan Meunier’s Up Up Down Down Left WRITE – The Freelance Guide To Video Game Journalism, like the Necronomicon, is a dangerous book. I grew up playing video games and at a certain age I started reading magazine and internet articles about them to further my knowledge of the medium. It blew my mind that playing video games and writing about them was something a person could do for a living. I’ve dreamed about being able to do that ever since, but there have always been questions about it that I’ve never been able to ask. I’ve never had a resource to turn to that satisfied those inquiries. Meunier’s book is dangerous because, while it is packed to the brim with details that might scare some people off, it answers all of the questions I’ve ever had about freelance work (and questions I didn’t know I had) and makes me think that I could pursue games journalism and go beyond my hobby.
I happened across Up Up Down Down Left WRITE on Twitter, where someone had retweeted a link to the books Kickstarter page. I was unable to donate at the time, but swore to myself that I would buy the book as soon as I could. I got it on Kindle and was overwhelmed by the amount of topics listed on the table of contents page. I thought I had some idea of what was involved in writing about games, but my assumptions barely scratched the surface. Everything from pitching articles to covering conventions and even paying quarterly taxes is covered in this book. Meunier doesn’t write about these subjects in dry-textbook manner, either. Humor and pop culture references are sprinkled throughout and they work to relay information to the reader in a relatable way. The book feels more like a friend who works in the industry is telling you about personal experiences than it does a college professor demanding you absorb information.
Meunier leaves no stone un-turned and as such, the reader often gets to see the grimy underside and negative aspects of freelance journalism. I think a lot of us want to believe that it’s as simple as playing a game and churning out a review in a single draft, but it’s much more work than that. I recommend this book, not just to the people who are interested in trying to write about games for a living, but also to those who get online and post comments on reviews and articles. I think we could all benefit from having an expanded knowledge of the journalists side of the industry and Nathan Meunier’s Up Up Down Down Left WRITE is an excellent point of entry.