One of the greatest things about visiting your local independent bookstore is that you never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes a hidden gem might jump off the shelf at you, sometimes you can be drawn in by a staff recommendation. One example of this phenomenon might be Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living by Dan Amrich. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of getting paid to play their favorite games?
Chris recently spoke with Dan about Critical Path, the writing process, and the long journey to book took from idea to publication.
Q: You've been a part of some major gaming publications in your career. In a few sentences, could you give a bit of your professional background?
Sure. I started as a freelance writer in 1993, tackling game reviews for a mix of computer, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle magazines, plus the then-novel realm of America Online. I got a good reputation by sending copies of my reviews back to the companies that had supplied me with games, so by the time I got a staff position at GamePro magazine in 1997, I had a good industry reputation. I stayed there and wrote under the pen name of Dan Elektro for seven years, then branched out to Official Xbox Magazine, GamesRadar, PC Gamer, and any other publication that would have me! All told I put in 15 years as a game reviewer and magazine editor before writing Critical Path.
Q: You live on the West Coast now, but you spent a bit of time here in Upstate NY, not far from our store here in Saratoga Springs. Can you talk a bit about your time on the East Coast?
I grew up in the Philadelphia area, which is a euphemism for Trenton, New Jersey -- but I went to college at Ithaca, married my wife outside Rochester, and I love every trip I've taken upstate.
Q: What was the inspiration to write Critical Path? Is it something you were always thinking about doing, or did you decide one day "I should really write this stuff down!"?
It was largely driven by the letters we got from magazine readers. I was in charge of the reader mail at GamePro, and every month, we'd get letters asking the same question -- "How do I get your job?" Usually it was from teenagers whose parents were telling them they had to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, so they were curious about what career surrounded by something they loved -- videogames -- might look like. The more I got these letters, the more I wanted to answer them, but the more I realized that the answer was potentially very detailed. Some people who wrote in were really just looking for a way to get free games, but there were enough serious letters asking for real-world advice that I was convinced it was something I could definitively answer for the hopefuls who really didn't know where else to start.(READ MORE)