Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. Rae Grimm is head of GamePro, and has been writing about games for more than seven years. We wanted to know how she’s gotten to where she is today and what advice she has in store for women aiming to work as a video games journalist.
Hi Rae, how does one become head of GamePro? What’s your story?
Usually, when someone asks me how I got where I am I say “I just wanted to buy a Wii and things kind of escalated from there” which is actually true. I rather stumbled into writing about video games when I bought one several years back. While searching for games that might interest me, I found a small website looking for editors. I always wanted to be a writer or a journalist, but traditional journalism never felt like a good fit for me. So I applied for the freelance editor position and got it. It was unpaid but it taught me the basics of writing about video games and showed me that writing for an online audience might be the right path for me.
I did an internship for the movie website “moviepilot” afterward to see if working with a “real” editorial team would be something for me. While moviepilot couldn’t employ me after my internship, I left a lasting impression there because of my passion for video games. I got my first job as a full time editor at IGN Germany shortly afterwards where I was for two years before the folks of moviepilot approached me, asking me if I’d be interested in building a new website for video games with a small team of my choosing. It was a really great opportunity and so “gamespilot” was born.
The website existed for about two or three years, until our owner (Webedia) bought GameStar and GamePro from IDG. At its core, the values and ideas of GamePro and gamespilot were very similar but when it came to strengths and weaknesses, they balanced each other out quite perfectly. So when I was approached if we’d be interested in merging both websites, forming a bigger team with me leading it, there wasn’t much to think about. I talked to my team and we all agreed that this was a great opportunity for us. This is how the “new GamePro” or “GP 2.0” as we called it, was born. In the past, I often said that I got “lucky” when I got my position. I guess luck was part of it but mostly it was hard work, passion, and maybe a vision of what I always wanted: A mainstream gaming website where everyone could feel welcome.
Are there any recent projects you’re working on that you are excited about?
There’s always something brewing! On a day to day basis, my focus is on leading the team of GamePro.de, helping them with their projects as well as doing the longterm planning. At the moment I’m mostly working on where 2019 will take us. There are some exciting things happening but unfortunately, I’m not ready to talk about them just yet. I’m also more and more involved with mentoring younger video game journalists which I really enjoy.
Do you have any career advice for upcoming video game journalists? What did you wish you knew when you started?
There are so many things I’d tell my younger self who was just starting out, I could probably fill books with it. I feel like a lot has changed since I first started out in video games. The industry itself changed as well as how I approach everything. It seems to be a different beast than a decade ago, maybe even five years ago. And maybe that’s the most important thing to keep in mind: Things change. A lot.
A few years ago we had different kinds of games than we have now and the medium keeps changing – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The trick is to always stay flexible and curious and not cling too much to the past. Because while you might be busy bemoaning that gaming (journalism) is not the same it used to be, a new generation of gamers never knew those times and most likely doesn’t care. Always remember who you are writing for and consider what they want and need.
Oh and never forget: You don’t need to be born with a controller in hand to be a good video games journalist. Nobody knows everything or has played everything. Just need to be curious and willing to learn and the rest will sort itself out.
Thank you for your time Rae!