Do esports Journalists need to be good at Video Games ?

Photograph taken by: Alexander Hugo/The Shotcaller

A few days ago a tweet from esports Journalist Veteran Rod Breslau aka Slasher: 

He claims that esports and gaming journalists need to be good at playing video games to be good journalists within their field and this is where I disagree.

I’ve worked in the Industry for about two and a half years now. I’ve worked as League of Legends coach, as a journalist, content creator or simply as a YouTuber and streamer nowadays. In all fairness, we often like to read from an already established name in Esports due to his credibility or even his fame, but every now and then there comes someone talented completely out of nowhere that blows our minds. This is where we have to differentiate the types of content a journalist can use to tell their stories. In gaming, the most typical ones would be any form of analytical content or some storytelling piece he wants us to read. Besides all the news writings, reviews or interviews a journalist could also bring to the table, however, let’s just focus on the first two.

Through the past two years, I met a lot of people to successful writers to excellent coaches and analysts and everyone had their own thing going for them. One thing that never worked was a storyteller trying to write an analytical piece about the game itself. 

It never worked. It lacked depth most of the time or simply, he would still focus on the person rather than the in game part. So you get the idea that journalists who are unable to critically analyze the game shouldn’t write about games then, right? No that’s not the case, it is the focus that makes the great writers succeed. I had the pleasure to get to know one of the greatest esports journalists we have nowadays when he first started as a writer at a site called goldper10: Jacob Wolf.

He wasn’t the smartest about League of Legends, especially compared to all the other writers and content creators that contributed to the site. There were a lot of others, nowadays successful coaches and analysts, also contributing to Goldper10, but Jacob was the first to stand out through all these talented people that started at the same time. Why? Because he found his style and knew how to tell his story.

What made Jacob great is that he could put into words how much he cared to break down a story and even without any form of collegiate background do it on such a professional level. This impressed everyone very quickly. For that he didn’t need to go in depth into the game aspects of the game, he only needed to understand the game good enough to be able to write and explain the concept it if it was needed to benefit the story. He is a great journalist and I don’t think he would need to master a game ever to continue to break down stories or simply write his next big hit. He found his style, he found his way to tell his story and learned the skills to do so. Mastering his game of choice isn’t an option as he reports on many different games, esports and sports in his work.

Even if we take a look at the current standing of esports journalists and focus more on the European League of Legends scene, we are currently struggling to tell stories, the stories that really matter. Adding this barrier of “you need to have this level of in-game knowledge” to write a good text, isn’t needed for a good story and only would distance us from great writers. If you want a more analytical piece you will probably be looking to read a piece from Kelsey Moser or Emily Rand as they are excellent analyst as well as writers, but if you are only looking to get closer to a player you could also read talented writers such as Toru or Thorin, that focus more on the people and their story.

A journalist or a content creator can benefit a lot from mastering his primary game and being able to break it down for the masses. However, this isn’t needed from every journalist, as people can bring different views and opinions to the same topic. We have analysts and experts for that, let them do the analytical pieces while others focus on their storytelling aspect.

It is okay to not be good at your game as long you can work around it.

It doesn’t hinder anyone to tell a good story.

So, if you are reading this and have a good story to tell, go find your medium, your voice and share it. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the world would miss out on it?

Well, I do.