Q&Game with Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games
It may feel like many eons ago, but, there was indeed a time when FPS and RTS were just letters to us. Since then, games and gamers have evolved, and once obscure terminology is now household jabber. We sat down with Andrea Rene (AndreaRene.com) to talk about her journey from “What’s an FPS?” to becoming an elite gamer. Andrea has contributed to Kinda Funny Games (@KindaFunnyVids), been seen on IGN, GameSpot, and Yahoo, and has attended ten E3s (@E3). Last year, she co-founded a podcast, What’s Good Games, with co-hosts Brittney Brombacher (@BlondeNerd), Kristine Steimer (@steimer), and Alexa Ray Corriea (@AlexaRayC). Today, Andrea continues to be a kicka** role model to all of us who have dreamed of making a career out of our love of playing video games.
For our latest installment of our Q&Game series, we ask Andrea what’s good. She gets real on the learning curve that comes with entering the video games industry on a professional level and how “working hard and playing hard” is the mentality she lives by.
VGVN: Let’s start out with some background. How did you get your start in the video game industry?
AR: I worked my first E3 back in 2008 for a small blog called The Bitbag, which sadly no longer exists. I was working in L.A. in entertainment news doing red carpets, junket and the like when I saw a post on Craigslist for a hosting position so I applied. This year I went to my 10th E3, crazy how time flies.
VGVN: What were some of the earliest challenges you faced starting out in games?
AR: Gamers love to challenge each other's cred, and being a new face in gaming put that to the test for me. I still get challenged on my authenticity to this day, but having a knowledge gap in certain genres and franchises certainly made my job a lot harder back then. I had to spend lots of time researching and playing games from studios that I would never have looked at if I didn't start working in video games professionally.
Also, the jargon of games was a whole process to learn. I remember the first time my producer Torrence asked for an FTP card for assets at a PR booth I was like, "Wait,WHAT?" It is funny now since technology is so intertwined in our daily lives, but learning abbreviations like MMORPG, DPS, JRPG, AFK, FPS, RTS...the list goes on...is not something you just pick up overnight. I felt like I needed flashcards!
VGVN: Fast forward to today, you’re running your own show with three great co-hosts, Brittney, Alexa, and Kristine - What’s Good Games. How did the lessons from your start pay off when launching WGG?
AR: I am a believer in working hard and playing hard, and that you can't have one without the other. I spent a lot of time wearing many hats throughout my career from producer, host, writer to programmer, content management, and creative development. When we launched What's Good Games we had to be prepared to do anything and everything for our brand because when you run your own business no one else is going to do the work for you.
VGVN: Did the recent media shift to “going it alone” on Patreon inspire you to go this route? Were there any nerves on the team about this style of fundraising? Any mentors/friends who made the jump that helped out?
AR: I wouldn't classify Patreon as "going it alone" rather "going your own way." The community on Patreon is incredibly welcoming, supportive, and encouraging. What is great about that platform is it allows creators to make the content they way they want, without a sales team or shareholders to be beholden to. We absolutely were nervous!! We prepared ourselves for the possibility that only our friends, parents, and significant others would be backing us, (my mom is actually a patron!) But with guidance from friends and former co-workers like Brandon Jones of Easy Allies, Danny O'Dwyer of No Clip, and the entire team at Kinda Funny, we were armed with a lot of knowledge about how to set ourselves up for success.
VGVN: Who are some of you and your team’s inspirations in the industry and in games media?
AR: I can only speak for myself, but there are so many talented people working in games media. I've had the honor of working with Geoff Keighley on several occasions and am continually impressed but his depth of knowledge about the industry and his ambition to help keep the art of video games in the spotlight through tentpole events like The Game Awards. I love working with the Kinda Funny Games team and seeing how hard work from a small team can turn into big things, plus being part of a community that is such a positive force. Working with IGN on multiple projects has been amazing from a production standpoint because they really are a well-oiled machine, and it is no surprise they are leading the games media space right now. I could keep going!!
VGVN: What’s the biggest difference between running your own show, WGG, versus working with some of the major game news sites such as GameSpot, IGN, and Yahoo?
AR: The biggest difference between what What's Good Games produces and some of the major outlets is access to resources. We are a very, very small team with other obligations that prevent us from working on WGG full time. Places like GameSpot or IGN have giant teams devoted to making video game content. So, when it comes to preview events, conventions, reviews and other opportunities to cover games, we have to be extremely picky. It isn't because the games don't deserve attention, but because we just don't have the ability to write, shoot, edit, produce, and ultimately upload content on a scale those powerhouses can. Running your own channel is A LOT of work as any content creator can tell you.
VGVN: We know from ESA stats that half of gamers are women and women are one of the largest emerging markets for game companies. With that in mind, do you believe that the need for female-led games media will be becoming more important as the industry expands?
AR: More voices are always better than less. The games industry at large, not just media, is dominated by male voices so there is a misconception that women are not as interested in games, which is just not the case. When there are diverse opinions, voices, and perspectives influencing how content is made and what is created, the results are better content.
VGVN: If you can give a younger you advice from everything you’ve learned while working in games, what would it be?
AR: Get REALLY good at DOTA 2! Haha, just kidding But seriously: play more games! I know it seems almost silly to say that but I tend to get stuck on games I love and don't diversify my experiences as much as I could. It is tough because games are so time consuming compared to other forms media, but there is such a big, amazing library of video games in the world today that should be played. Play often, play more!
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