Who are the 50 most influential journalists in the U.S games industry? We decided to find a freelancer crazy enough to compile and write up an actual list. Be warned, some of the pictures within are of a disturbing nature.
When I was asked to pick the most important videogame journalists, I knew it would not be an easy task. Creating a list that included critics, news writers, bloggers, editors and commentators from print, web, mainstream and specialist publications was bound to be tough. Limiting the list to 50 out of the hundreds of eligible people who write about videogames was similarly daunting.
To narrow things down a bit, I put together a few rules. In general, the list focuses on U.S. journalists — foreign journalists appear only if their work has significant influence on this side of the pond. The list also focuses on widely active journalists, so the trailblazing work of people like Bill Kunkel, Johnny Wilson, Russel Sipe, Rusel DeMaria and many others is not represented. Finally, edge-online.com editors and regular Next Generation freelancers have been excluded from the list as a matter of discretion. For more information read our editor-in-chief’s postscript ‘Why The Heck Aren’t I On This List?’
It should be noted that this is a list of the most important writers in the industry, not merely the best. Influence and reach were an important part of the considerations, as were the writer’s position, outlet, reputation and originality. In the end, though, the list was a matter of personal discretion and not an exact science. Some writers are on the list because they are too big to ignore, others are listed as representatives for an entire publication of talented writers. Still others got on simply because we like them.
In the end, this list is just one freelancer’s take on some of the people who make game journalism such an exciting and varied field. I hope this list starts a discussion among readers about what makes good game journalism and what makes a good game journalist.
Although the picks are entirely ours, we have allowed the recipients some leeway in contributing their own bios.
About the editor: Kyle Orland has been writing about video games for the past nine years, getting his start by founding fan site Super Mario Bros. HQ in 1997. Since then he has written for many outlets, including Electronic Gaming Monthly, Paste Magazine, NPR.org, Next Generation, and The Escapist. Today, he continues to work as a freelancer, and blogs regularly for Joystiq. He also covers the game journalism industry on his personal site, Video Game Media Watch..
Editor-in-chief, Computer Games Magazine
Steve Bauman is the editor-in-chief of Computer Games Magazine and MASSIVE Magazine. He has over 17 years of experience in the game media—13 with Computer Games alone—and has seen the magazine evolve from being carved in stone tablets to its current glossy paper and digital forms. Prior to his work for Computer Games, he contributed to one of the first digital magazines, CompuServe’s The Electronic Gamer. He’s also had game-related articles published in the trade press (for which he was never paid), gets regularly misquoted by the mainstream press, and has had his editorials reprinted in college textbooks for some inexplicable reason.
Editorial Director, IGN Games
Talmadge Blevins is the editorial lead on IGN.com’s games network, overseeing all content creation and publishing of IGN’s console, handheld, and PC game sites. A master’s graduate of the University of Georgia, Blevins joined IGN.com in October 1998 as an associate editor on the PC channel. He is a founding member of IGN Entertainment and has worked in the computer entertainment industry for over 12 years. Blevins has written articles for Next Generation magazine, Games Business magazine, and TV Guide, among other publications. He has also appeared as an expert in the field of videogames on several national and international television and radio networks, including G4TV, the BBC and NPR.
Executive editor, Develop & Pocket Gamer
British-based Bennallack edited the magazine for developers from launch until its February 2006 issue. He now takes an executive role, but also edits widely respected website Pocket Gamer. He has also worked at MCV and Edge, and has provided consultancy and evaluation services to several leading developers and publishers. He is also chairman of the Develop In Brighton Conference advisory board.
Growing up, Chris Buffa never aspired to be the editor-in-chief of a video game website. In fact, he never thought of combining two of his greatest interests (games and writing) until 2002, when he was offered a freelance position with Gamerfeed.com. Quickly ascending the ladder, Buffa was somehow put in charge of GameDaily’s editorial team in early 2006 and he’s never looked back.
Editor-in-chief, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine
Tom Byron’s career in game journalism started in 1989 when he wrote game reviews as editor of the Atari ST enthusiast magazine STart, and later as a founding editor of PC Home Journal. In 1991, he made the leap to the “other side,” first as head of PR at Spectrum HoloByte and then as a marketing manager. In 1995, Byron joined LucasArts where he eventually became Director of Product Marketing. His portfolio included the hits Rogue Squadron II, Jedi Knight II, Grim Fandango and the Monkey Island series. In 2002, Byron returned to magazines, joining Ziff Davis as editor-in-chief of GameNOW, then as editor-in-chief of GMR and now as editor-in-chief of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine.
Editorial Director, CMP Game Group
Simon Carless is the Editorial Director of Game Developer magazine, and its website, as well as CMP websites Serious Games Source, Game Career Guide and GameSetWatch. He is also Chairman of the yearly Independent Games Festival, has previously worked as Games Editor for popular tech website Slashdot, and wrote/edited the O’Reilly-published book Gaming Hacks. He has also contributed to magazines such as Wired, and was formerly a lead game designer in his native England and California for companies such as Eidos Interactive and Atari.
Editor-in-chief, IGN Cube/IGN Wii
Matt Casamassina has been covering the videogame industry for more than 10 years. In the last decade, he has served as editor-in-chief for IGN.com’s Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii channels, and has freelanced for the network’s other websites. His commentary and articles have appeared in Variety, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Seattle Times, Next Generation, and more. Over the years, Casamassina has broken dozens of major Nintendo-related stories, from the name of GameCube to the system specs of the Wii console.
Editor, Kotaku.com; Writer, Rocky Mountain News
Brian Crecente is the editor of and writer for gaming blog Kotaku and video game writer for the Rocky Mountain News, where his work appears on the Scripps-Howard Wire Service. Prior to becoming a full-time gaming journalist, Crecente was an award-winning police reporter for 11 years at three major dailies in Texas, Florida and Colorado where he covered everything from daily crime and wild fires to the contested presidential election and serial killers. He has written about video game for the past seven years, for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, Geek.com, Gamezilla, Extended Play, Access Magazine and Jester.com. Besides covering video gaming for the Rocky and Kotaku, Crecente currently writes pieces for Playboy Magazine, Stuff Magazine, 360 Magazine and his personal blog, Red Assed Baboon. He is married and the father of a 5-year-old boy.
General Editor, Newsweek
N’Gai Croal has written about technology ever since joining Newsweek in February 1995. As a contributor to the weekly Cyberscope section, Croal has reviewed many of the latest Web sites, digital cameras, mobile phones, computer peripherals, MP3 players, CD-ROMs, toys joysticks and video games. He also writes for the magazine’s Arts and Entertainment section, where he has covered everything from the eye-popping special effects in “The Matrix” to the success of rock n’ rap performers like Eminem and Kid Rock. In December 1999 he was promoted to general editor. His work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Details, The Source, Momentum and Theater Week.
Senior Vice President/Editorial Director, 1up Network
John Davison is the Senior Vice President and Editorial Director at Ziff Davis Media, where he shapes and directs all 1UP Network editorial products, including 1UP.com, MyCheats.com, GameVideos.com, GameTab.com, the 1UP Show, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World, and the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. He is also the co-host of the popular 1UP Yours weekly podcast. Previously, Davison served as the editor-in-chief of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, seeing it through a number of significant transitions, and prior to that he led Electronic Gaming Monthly through some major milestones in the late ’90s. Before moving to the States and joining Ziff Davis, Davison was the publisher of UK PC gaming magazine PC Zone at Dennis Publishing.
News Editor, Gamespot
Curt Feldman is responsible for the direction and operations of GameSpot News, the leading source of news for game industry professionals. He is in charge of strategy as well as the day-to-day operations of the news desk. Feldman has been covering the game beat for the past eight years. Prior to his current role, Feldman was Editor-in-Chief of Games Business. Before that, he worked at a number of consumer and trade publications including Travel & Leisure, Entertainment Weekly, and Adweek.
Managing Editor, MCV
Lisa Foster joined the game journalism industry in 1994 as deputy editor at CTW, which was then the global video game industry’s only weekly trade title. In 1998 she quit with editor Stuart Dinsey to help him launch a new weekly trade magazine, MCV. She edited the magazine until 2001 when she was promoted to managing editor of MCV and several other titles in the Intent Media portfolio, including Develop (the respected international monthly publication for the creative community). However, she retains a close watching brief on MCV and continues to contribute to the magazine on a weekly basis. With MCV now well established as the leading source of UK trade news – and with a strong international voice – Foster has been widely quoted in both the specialist and national press.
Freelancer/ Hollywood Reporter
John Gaudiosi has been covering videogames for The Washington Post since his undergraduate and graduate school days at George Mason University. Gaudiosi serves as the video game reporter for the Hollywood Reporter and covers all aspects of the video game industry for outlets like Playboy, Wired, GamePro, Geek, Xbox.com, and Yahoo! Games. He also serves as editor for SportsGamer.com and regularly blogs at WRAL.com and insidevideogames.com. His specialty is the convergence of Hollywood and videogames, tracing the rise of what was a niche area into the fastest-growing field in entertainment today. On the television front, he serves as a videogame expert for NBC’s Consumer Report and is a consulting producer for Foglight Entertainment, which creates videogame TV programs.
Senior Editor, Gamespot
Jeff Gerstmann got his start covering games at a short-lived magazine called Blaster in 1994. He’s covered video and computer games for the past decade at GameSpot.com. In addition to being one of the site’s most prolific reviewers, Gerstmann also regularly appears on GameSpot’s weekly live video show and weekly news podcast. He has made appearances on several television and radio shows over the years, including Good Morning America and many local and cable news programs.
Kieron Gillen has been writing about videogames professionally since a seedy man came up to him in a nightclub and asked him if he wanted to do so. Almost twelve years later, he’s been the deputy editor of PC Gamer, recipient of the PTC’s Best New Special Consumer Journalist Of The Year Award, written for everyone from Games Developer to the Guardian and infamously coined the phrase New Games Journalism. He continues to sell words for money and has just launched his critically-acclaimed comic Phonogram, which aims to prove he can annoy comic readers as much as gamers.
Senior Editor, AOL Games
Videogame vet Libe Goad has been covering the electronic entertainment industry for a number of popular consumer magazines and web sites for nearly ten years. Today, as Senior Editor for AOL Games, Goad is responsible for directing the content of one of the biggest video game sites on the Web, from news and reviews to features and interviews. Prior to AOL Games, Goad ran the videogames coverage for men’s consumer magazine Sync and Blender Magazine. She also reported on consumer technology news for PC Magazine and other Ziff Davis properties and was the Editor-at-Large for gaming enthusiast site HappyPuppy.com. In 1999, Goad started the popular women’s gaming Web site GameGal.com.
Editor-in-chief, Computer Gaming World
Jeff Green is the editor-in-chief of Computer Gaming World magazine, where he has toiled for nine years and counting. He began his CGW career in 1997 as the adventure/RPG and sports editor, eventually taking over as editor-in-chief in 2001. In 1998, he began his GreenSpeak column, which went on to become one of the most popular columns in the business. He retired the column in 2003, but brought it back again for a second run in 2006. From 2003-2005, he was also the anonymous writer of GMR magazine’s popular “Game Geezer” column. As a noted industry expert, Green has been interviewed numerous times by multiple mainstream media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, National Public Radio, and Reuters. His mother is still very proud of him.
Editor-in-chief, Yahoo! Video Games
Born and raised in London, England, Rich Greenhill is somehow enduring the occupation of a videogames editor position in the harsh climate of Santa Monica, California. Working professionally in the industry since 1996, Greenhill played an integral role in the recent revamp to Yahoo’s videogame channel, and is currently in charge of all the property’s content programming and production. An obsessive games player for almost three decades, Greenhill’s deadly mouse-and-keyboard combo skills serve almost no socially redeeming purpose.
Executive Editor, The Escapist
Julianne Greer was a lifelong gamer and relative outsider to traditional gaming journalism when she co-founded The Escapist in July 2005. She has served as executive editor for the online magazine since its inception, growing it to over 150,000 monthly readers and actualizing her vision of editorial coverage for gaming that befits the most important entertainment industry of the 21st century. Greer also serves as the Editorial Director for Themis Group’s other media properties, including WarCry Network and AllGameNews. Prior to her work on The Escapist, she had worked as a professional broadsword fighter, a new media consultant and an advertising copywriter.
After starting Die Hard Game Club, the largest import video game mail order in the country, Dave began his career in video game journalism when he launched GameFan Magazine in 1992. Post-GameFan, Halverson became editor-in-chief for Gamers Republic before launching his second publication, Play Magazine in 2000. Since then he’s been the on-air reviewer for Access Hollywood. Halverson’s calling card has always been a love of the games and a special bond with the developers that make them. Halverson has also appeared on CNN, G4, Center Seat TV, and in Tribune newspapers across the Country, such as the LA Times.
As president of Enterbrain Inc. Hamamura oversees the publication of Japan’s Famitsu family magazines, headed by the top-selling Weekly Famitsu, the country’s oldest an most respected magazine. Known for its harsh review standards, only six games have received a perfect 40 out of 40 in the magazine’s 20+ year history. Hamamura also oversees the publication of other Enterbrain video game magazines like Login, Arcadia and Tech Gian, as well as sports and manga magazines.
Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
Writer/Artist, Penny Arcade
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (aka Gabe and Tycho) started Penny Arcade in 1998, posting their game-focused webcomic in their spare time. What started as a hobby has since turned into a cultural phenomenon with the site becoming one of the largest game media outlets sporting over 3 million readers worldwide. In addition to the site, Penny Arcade also hosts PAX (The Penny Arcade Exposition), the largest videogame show in North America, Child’s Play, an organization dedicated to providing game consoles for hospitalized children across the globe and the Penny Arcade Scholarship, an annual grant providing financial aid to those wishing to enter the game industry.
Dan “Shoe” Hsu
Editor-in-chief, Electronic Gaming Monthly
Shoe started off his game-journalism career as an associate editor at Electronic Gaming Monthly back in 1996. He eventually worked his way up to become EGM’s Previews Editor as well as Editor-in-Chief of Ziff Davis Media’s Videogame Buyers’ Guide for two years. In 2000, he followed the dotcom gold rush out to California where he helped launch Gamers.com, first as executive editor then as editor-in-chief for video games. The gold rush quickly became a bust, and luckily for Shoe, EGM asked him back to take the helm as editor-in-chief of the magazine.
As editor-in-chief of GameSpot, Greg Kasavin’s days revolve around supervising editorial operations and continuously improving the popular site’s growing list of services. Typically, he then goes home to play and write about games late into the night while his wife, baby daughter, and two dogs waste away precious hours of their lives sleeping. He’s been a prolific contributor to GameSpot since 1996 and is probably best known for his hundreds of game reviews. Kasavin holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in English. He was born in Moscow, Russia.
Managing Editor, GameSpy
A writer and editor long before entering the computer games industry, Keefer has been in journalism for more than 25 years, working at the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for 13 years as a designer, writer and editor before coming to GameSpy. He has been writing about games and managing GameSpy editorial for about seven years. He enjoys writing previews, doing interviews and meeting people in the industry.
Keighley has been writing about videogames for 14 years (half his life). He got his start writing for enthusiast magazines, but today his work spans multiple mediums. He is currently a contributing writer to Business 2.0 and Entertainment Weekly. On television he hosts Spike TV’s Game Head. Keighley is also a columnist for Official Xbox Magazine and writes GameSpot’s Behind the Games series. NewsBios.com recently named him one of the best journalists under 30. He is also only one of two journalists — the other being Mike Wallace — profiled in the book “Geeks and Geezers” from Harvard Business School Press.