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Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living Paperback – February 15, 2012

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Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living + Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism + The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It has enough concrete examples collected over years that I can say that I can refer aspiring game journalists to this book now, rather than write them long missives about how to break into the game beat." -- Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat
"Even if you don't currently plan on joining the freelancer ranks, his detailed approach to reviews will have you thinking more critically of the games you play every day." -- GamesRadar.com
"Amrich is one of the most respected writers in games journalism, and arguably one of the men who pioneered the craft." -- timesunion.com

From the Back Cover

I'm so grateful to Dan Amrich. Now, when someone asks me how to become a game reviewer, I can bypass the ponderous email chain of heartfelt tutelage and simply say "Buy Critical Path."
- Justin McElroy, founding editor, Polygon
If you've ever dreamt about playing video games for a living -- and getting paid for it -- Dan Amrich's Critical Path is a must-read for its accuracy, clarity and hilarity.
- Marc Saltzman, syndicated video game columnist/USA Today contributor
If you take games seriously, Critical Path is required reading.
- Andy Eddy, veteran game journalist
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: TripleTorch (February 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098514372X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985143725
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Amrich started reviewing videogames professionally in 1993, when Super NES and Sega Genesis ruled the earth. Over the 15 years that followed, he served as Senior Editor for Official Xbox Magazine, GamesRadar, and GamePro; Executive Editor of GameSport and Digital Diner; and Editor-in-Chief of World of Warcraft: Official Magazine. He has written freelance articles for national publications including Wired, PC Gamer, Blender, Slam, Guitar World, and Time Out New York.

Dan is currently trapped in Los Angeles with his lovely wife Katrin, three cats, a couple of arcade machines, and more guitars than anyone should own.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jay Turner on March 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Disclaimer: I owe Dan Amrich my career. He took a chance on an eager, foolish EB Games clerk and gave me a shot at a freelance gig at GamePro. With his help, that turned into a staff position and six years as a game journalist, followed by a role as a writer for a game developer for the last 7+ years.

I note that because as I read this book, the things in here are, no lie, exactly the advice he gave me, and every word of it is gold. Reading this book won't guarantee you a job in the business, but it will give you the knowledge and advice you need to take your own talent and drive and put it to work reviewing videogames (all-one-word!).

Dan is a charismatic and highly intelligent man, and it shows through in the text. Whether he's laying out the processes and attitudes you need to be a great freelancer, or explaining to you why you should remain sober at press junkets, it's all good, and it's all gold. He tells you how to interact with PR professionals, how to dress for big conventions (look nice, but wear comfortable shoes!), and even nuggets like how NOT to overschedule yourself such that you die of exhaustion at E3.

My disclaimer above is there for full disclosure, but it shouldn't be discounted: The information in this book is dead-on, accurate, and essential to success as a game reviewer. If you get into the business, you will learn these things eventually, the hard way, so why not learn it before you start?

Nothing short of talent, hard work, love for games, and a little bit of luck will get your foot in the industry's door. But this book will help you find the right door in the first place, and give you a wedge to shove in there to keep that door open.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robin Taylor on February 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Leveraging nearly a lifetime of game reviewing harkening back before the internet, author Dan Amrich lays down the knowledge stick for would-be game reviewers.

Brevity and droll humour drive the pace, making for bite-sized chunks of real world advice covering the entire gamet of a gaming career. Leading the reader through myths about the industry into early entry points and up to an escape plan, personal anecdotes are peppered with interviews with industry veterans, lending real weight and guidance.

Entertaining AND informative, Critical Path is a relevatory work about a much-sought but little understood industry. Must reading for those who would or do review games professionally.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on June 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've played video games regularly for many years now. A few years ago, I even toyed with the idea of becoming a game reviewer of some kind. It was never a serious thought, partially because of the need for relocation but mostly because I just didn't know what I needed to do in order to become one. In other words, I wish Dan Amrich, a veteran of the video game reviewing wars, had written Critical Path a long time ago. Only a couple of minor issues mar what is otherwise an excellent book that explains all the ins and outs of getting into the video game review business and even beyond that if you find that job growing stale.

Amrich has been in the business for a while now, reviewing games and working for video games magazines for many years. He's also been working on this book for a number of years. This isn't necessarily that important except to note for those who may be curious that Critical Path does cover both print journalism and online sites, the latter of which are becoming increasingly important in the gaming world. It has been heavily updated to reflect all current facets.

What's odd about this is that Amrich is actually not currently working in the field but is instead the Community Manager at Activision (or "the dark side," as I've heard it called). This isn't mentioned in the text, and I'm not sure if that's because it might just confuse people or muddy the waters. It sounds weird when reading the book if you're familiar with this because the way he writes makes it sound like he's still in the field. I quickly got past that feeling, but it did make me stop and think a couple of times early on.

Critical Path covers everything you're going to need in order to get your dream job of reviewing video games.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Aru on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many people dream of playing videogames for a living, Dan Amrich's book Critical Path pulls back the curtain to this dream job and offers you a peak at the machinery behind it. Consider Critical Path as the boot camp for videogame reviewers hoping to create a career by writing about the games they love. The book not only dispels many of the fantastic myths behind the industry but also provides pointers on how to get started on the right path. Mr Amrich sprinkles small anecdotes throughout the book from his 15 year of experience in the videogame industry to give examples of things done right and mistakes you can avoid. Critical Path will teach, entertain, and most important give you the hard truth about what it means to be a videogame reviewer. If you've ever imagined yourself as a writer for any gaming magazine, Dan Amrich's Critical Path needs to be in your library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Salvador on April 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To call "Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living" a "how to" book is simplifying what Dan Amrich accomplishes. The lessons, which are divided into six sections, are the primary focus, but Dan's personality comes across really well, and prevents the chapters from becoming a collection of dry instructions. He adds humorous experiences that are both insightful and entertaining, such as when a reader challenges a magazine by sending a resume that only mentions the games that he was able to beat quickly. This brief story emphasizes one of Amrich's main arguments, "We need more writers who cover games and less gamers who think writing is a pretty cool job." Game reviewers have to be writers first, and gamers second, because the former is what you'll be doing most of the time. Writing is not a skill that everyone has. We, the audience, read to be informed, and the reviewer's job is to inform us, which is why the person's thoughts and feelings need to be made clearly. Dan Amrich shows his audience why these skills are important, and structures the book in such a way that is not overwhelming to the uninitiated.

If there's one aspect of the book I felt could have been developed further, it's the first chapter of the "Learning It" section. The "Test your Might" chapter provides a sample of a poorly written review. Dan Amrich analyses the flaws, and demonstrates how the review can be fixed, such as pointing out structural issues and implementing an active voice. It's a helpful exercise, but I was disappointed that no example of a good review was provided. It's true that the audience of Critical Path may have some exposure to professional reviews, but a few pages analyzing the positive components of a good review would have been enlightening to new writers.
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