It’s odd being a video game journalist in the North of England.
Odd, because practically everyone else doing this sort of thing is based somewhere south of Birmingham. You’ve got your Bath-based journos who more likely than not will write for one or more of Future’s flagship magazines. Then you’ve got your London lot – mainly websites, with a few publications also based in the Big Smoke – and further south, the Brighton and Bournemouth crews, the latter being Imagine Publishing’s busy hub.
I do feel slightly cut-off at times, and on the occasions that I do travel south for a press event, I often feel a bit like a spare part. It’s not been so bad in recent months, because the sheer number of sites and publications I’ve written for over the years means there’s bound to be someone I can chat to. But given that many journos will stick together in groups of three or more people, I still sometimes feel like I’m an intruder, gate-crashing a party uninvited and unwanted. I’m never made to feel deliberately uncomfortable – on the contrary, almost everyone I’ve ever talked to at these events has been very friendly and welcoming, so it’s probably just my paranoia telling me that everyone’s either wondering when I’ll go away, or indeed who the hell this weird, chubby, slightly hairy bloke is.
Today I journeyed down to a press event in London, and managed to find a conversation opener with several people – my dictaphone had broken and I needed to find another way of taping an interview with the attendant developers. So, as I was covering the event for a major mainstream publication, I had PR folks bending over backwards to sort me out (thanks to Leo, Stacey and Lewis). It’s hardly the perfect opening gambit, one which makes you look like a badly-organised buffoon – but it did mean much less time wandering around forlornly like a lost puppy. Factor in the presence of a few familiar faces and a very lovely fellow One-A-Dayer, and my day was verging on the verbose.
(In fact, my day was only really soured by the train fare home. £131 to Stockport from London at 3.40pm, because apparently Virgin Trains consider any fare after 15:01 to be ‘peak times’. Unbelievable.)
Narked by the excessive fare, but buoyed by my conversational success, I spent the journey home mentally formulating a long list of potential future ice-breakers. So if you ever see me at a press event in one shoe, with a black eye, a ripped shirt, or with a scruffy beard on one side of my face and completely clean-shaven on the other (or a combination of two or more of the above), you’ll know why.