Forums - Website Topics - New Staff Writers Wanted: Deadline September 18, 2020 [Applications Closed]

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Hello VGChartz community!

It's been about a year since we last opened up applications for writing staff. With some departures and with our yearly GotY write-ups on the horizon, it's time for recruitment once again. 

This time around, we’re looking primarily for review writers, although people looking to post more general feature articles are also welcome to apply. If you love to play and analyze games and/or you have a lot of fun op-ed ideas bouncing around in your head, we hope you will submit an application. 

Benefits:

As a writer you'll have the opportunity to contribute to this site and community, gain a wider audience for your ramblings, broadcast your reviews on OpenCritic, have the potential to acquire review codes/copies ahead of launch, and also earn some money based on article traffic (please note that pay is modest; don’t go into it expecting to make a living).

Requirements:

A small checklist of things we’re looking for from prospective writers:

  • You must be a member of VGChartz. If you don’t yet have an account please make one before applying.
  • Good English is a must. We’re not looking for perfect English by any means, but you must at least have a good foundation; otherwise it will take too long to polish and edit your reviews.
  • Being a critical reviewer is also a must. On OpenCritic, of the sites with more than a hundred reviews on record, we have one of the lowest average scores (6.4/10) and one of the lowest rates of game recommendations (36%). That’s a reflection of our review methodology and the sort of people we’re looking to write reviews for us.
  • Be receptive to constructive criticism. All game reviews are subject to a peer-review process.
  • Active on Discord (or at least willing to be). We use Discord to communicate as a team, speeding up the editing process and making it possible to plan stuff - both for the writing team and for all staff.
  • Own at least one ‘active’ video game platform (i.e. PS4, NS, XOne, or PC).

Procedure:

If you're interested in applying to become a writer, please send an email to me, Evan Norris, at enorris@vgchartz.com and Craig Snow at csnow@vgchartz.com. Use the subject line "VGChartz Writer Application" and please include the following:

  • Your VGChartz username
  • You Discord name & number
  • A little bit about yourself
  • Platforms you own (if you intend to purchase a PS5 or XSX near to launch please add these to your list)
  • At least one scored review sample

The deadline to apply is 5pm ET on Friday, September 18. Good luck!



FAQs

Do I need to be published to apply?

No previous professional writing experience is required.

What should a sample review look like?

Try to stick with the typical formula: an intro, a body with the meat of your argument, and a conclusion. Within that, we really just want to see your style and command of language. There’s no minimum or maximum word count (Craig hates long reviews and I tend to look for more detail when editing reviews, so try to find a healthy balance).

How are reviews assigned?

Craig, our Editor-in-Chief, posts a thread with the marquee games in a given month. Writers then post the games they wish to play, in order of preference, identifying those titles they plan to buy and those they hope to secure via review codes/copies. Games are assigned based on this process. When two or more writers request the same game, the writer who was not approved gets priority for the next conflict.

Will I be getting review copies/codes?

Sometimes, yes. Writers source their own review copies/codes. Success rate varies and depends on a number of factors, including the size of the publisher (small publishers are more likely to hand out codes) and how many codes the PR rep has to hand out. 

How much time does a writer have to review a newly released game?

We have a rule that a review must be published no later than 30 days from launch in your region. We may make exceptions for longer games, like RPGs.

What is the team's review scoring scale?

Check out our scoring methodology here

Is VGChartz on any review aggregators?

We’re featured on OpenCritic, and our reviews and scores are listed on N4G. We’re not on MetaCritic.

What kind of features can I write?

Anything video game related. It could be a top 10 list, a retrospective, an interview, or an opinion piece about the state of the industry. Check out some examples here. As long as it’s not pure trolling and/or clickbait, let your imagination run wild.

If you have any more questions please ask below.

Last edited by Machina - on 10 September 2020

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Flee while you still can, gamers!

FLEEEEEE!!!!



September 2020 Articles: 

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445274/through-the-darkest-of-times-xone/ (Through the Darkest of Times Review - 7/10)

https://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/6161/Windbound/ (Windbound Review - 8.0/10)

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445393/battletoads-xone/ (Battletoads Review - 7/10)

Hmmmmm... I like writing reviews and feel that I am well qualified... But I think the review scale used here is problematic. Probably best not to get into it too deeply here, but I think having the lowest average review scores is more of a bug than a feature. Is the site open to constructive criticism on this?



JWeinCom said:
Hmmmmm... I like writing reviews and feel that I am well qualified... But I think the review scale used here is problematic. Probably best not to get into it too deeply here, but I think having the lowest average review scores is more of a bug than a feature. Is the site open to constructive criticism on this?

Yeah, it's weird to be proud of a low average on Opencritic just for the sake of it, or in the name of " being critical", as if people that gives higher scores can't be critical.



My (locked) thread about how difficulty should be a decision for the developers, not the gamers.

https://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=241866&page=1

Nautilus said:
JWeinCom said:
Hmmmmm... I like writing reviews and feel that I am well qualified... But I think the review scale used here is problematic. Probably best not to get into it too deeply here, but I think having the lowest average review scores is more of a bug than a feature. Is the site open to constructive criticism on this?

Yeah, it's weird to be proud of a low average on Opencritic just for the sake of it, or in the name of " being critical", as if people that gives higher scores can't be critical.

A lot of presumptions packed into one sentence.  Editors appreciate that kind of succinct behavior. ;)



September 2020 Articles: 

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445274/through-the-darkest-of-times-xone/ (Through the Darkest of Times Review - 7/10)

https://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/6161/Windbound/ (Windbound Review - 8.0/10)

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445393/battletoads-xone/ (Battletoads Review - 7/10)

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coolbeans said:
Nautilus said:

Yeah, it's weird to be proud of a low average on Opencritic just for the sake of it, or in the name of " being critical", as if people that gives higher scores can't be critical.

A lot of presumptions packed into one sentence.  Editors appreciate that kind of succinct behavior. ;)

Just giving my honest opinion, it's all. I mean, for whoever wants to be a writer, it's part of the job hearing positive and negative feedback, isn't it?



My (locked) thread about how difficulty should be a decision for the developers, not the gamers.

https://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=241866&page=1

JWeinCom said:
Hmmmmm... I like writing reviews and feel that I am well qualified... But I think the review scale used here is problematic. Probably best not to get into it too deeply here, but I think having the lowest average review scores is more of a bug than a feature. Is the site open to constructive criticism on this?

Happy to hear your thoughts!

I will say that a lot of outlets start at 5 and go to 10, meaning a 7.5 is considered average. We feel strongly that the full scale should be used. A 5/10 for us isn't the bottom of the barrel; it's a mediocre game with an equal number of positives and negatives.

This isn't about steering writers toward an artificially low score; it's about exploring the full 10-point range and providing a more nuanced analysis for our readers.



Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Originally released on the Wii in 2010 in Japan and later in other regions, Xenoblade Chronicles quickly became a fan favorite and regarded as one of the best JRPGs of its generation due to hitting a sweet spot between Japanese and Western design philosophies for RPGs. Its combination of strong story-telling, engaging battle system, giant world, lots of player freedom and unforgettable soundtrack hit the right notes, and there haven't been many RPGs of the same caliber in the decade since its release.

Now Nintendo Switch receives a beefed up version that hovers in the grey area between remaster and remake, because not everything in the Definitive Edition received the same amount of effort. The focus has been on the things that matter the most, though. As far as the graphics are concerned, character models of your party, important support cast and many enemies have been modernized while lesser NPCs retained a rough look. Similar things can be said about the environments: Foliage was updated, but a good amount of textures still lack detail and look blurred when you move up close.

But what's much more important are the numerous gameplay improvements that take care of pretty much every major drawback of the original release. The biggest issue in the Wii version were the EXP rewards from sidequests and cleared achievements that made completionists overleveled quickly which in turn lessened the enjoyment for large stretches of the game. The new expert mode solves this; while its name suggests higher difficulty, it actually doesn't change any of the enemies' stats. What it really does is collect all the bonus EXP in a pool that you can access to your liking, so you can apply or remove EXP from your characters as you see fit, allowing you to make the game as challenging or relaxing as you want it to be. No need to worry about completing too many sidequests too soon anymore, and New Game Plus isn't a total letdown anymore because this time you don't need to play at the level you carried over from your previous save file.

Furthermore, the user interface and map have been greatly improved, making it much less cumbersome to find quest givers and objectives. All unlocked cutscenes and heart-to-hearts can be viewed in a separate menu, especially useful for the latter if you want to try out the branching dialogue options. Characters can be customized to appear in the armor you like the most, if you don't like the looks of the equipment that grants you the best stats; this comes in handy because quite a few of the designs don't look aesthetically pleasing. Lastly, the Definitive Edition has been expanded with an epilogue that can be played without having to beat the main story first, although neither the length or quality of this short campaign are on the same level as the Torna expansion of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

In the end Monolith Software managed to make an all-time great in the JRPG genre even better. It's a definitive buy for anyone who hasn't played Xenoblade Chronicles before because this 50+ hours journey is one for the ages. Those who already played it will have to weigh if the additions and changes are enough to justify the price tag, but if this one was even only remotely close to one of your favorite Wii games, you owe it to yourself to relive this epic adventure.

Breakdown of various categories, five possible grades (Great, good, acceptable, questionable, bad).

Controls - Great
Gameplay - Great
Story - Great
Single-player - Great
Graphics - Acceptable
Sound - Great
Value - Great
Replay Value - Good

Score: 10

...

I am a harsh reviewer. There aren't many 10s out there and I made it a rule for myself not to hand out a 10 to a new game, because proper assessment requires things to settle in and settle down. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild got a 9 from me and a year later I assessed the game again to decide if it's worth a 10; it wasn't, so it remains a 9. Xenoblade Chronicles is now ten years old, the Definitive Edition doesn't change its content, but it cleans up the major shortcomings of the original which didn't get above a 9 for me because of that sidequest problem that made the game force me to play it in a certain way. Now I (and everyone else) can play the game how they want, so an easy call to make it a 10.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

Nautilus said:
coolbeans said:

A lot of presumptions packed into one sentence.  Editors appreciate that kind of succinct behavior. ;)

Just giving my honest opinion, it's all. I mean, for whoever wants to be a writer, it's part of the job hearing positive and negative feedback, isn't it?

Absolutely right.  But I think pushback against that is valid if feedback seems slightly unfair and/or presumptuous.  Although the advertising presented regarding OpenCritic stats is...whatever, there's not this impression of being in "the cool critics' corner" just because; it's just a mentality that gives more flexibility about *x fun game*.  I guess for someone like me who's used to 7-10 standardization, I think OP is just expecting you to have a mindset to build a solid case for a game getting high praise.  That said, I can relate in respect to reaching 10/10 and the built-up hype surrounding that.  The description in the site's methodology & the 'politics' surrounding it are...less-than-ideal, but I'm hopeful to see a mindset shift there. 

This also doesn't mean playing a bunch of games ranging from great to superb (iyo) means you can't be "critical" either.  I (and likely Evan) don't think the aim is slinging shit at those other critics but instead highlighting how we contrast from systemic expectations that've been around since the start of 7th gen (at least from my perspective).

Last edited by coolbeans - on 10 September 2020

September 2020 Articles: 

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445274/through-the-darkest-of-times-xone/ (Through the Darkest of Times Review - 7/10)

https://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/6161/Windbound/ (Windbound Review - 8.0/10)

https://www.vgchartz.com/article/445393/battletoads-xone/ (Battletoads Review - 7/10)

If you've read through our methodology and you're not happy with the scores and their descriptors, and wouldn't be comfortable using that scale, then please don't apply.

We change it from time to time (recently we updated a couple of the descriptions based on a then-new writer's feedback), and we are going to be (re)introducing x.5 scores soon, but the core of the scoring system has and always will be strict. 

Last edited by Machina - on 10 September 2020