Videogame Reviewer

Videogame Reviewer

Dan Amrich

Los Angeles, CA

Male, 41

I started reviewing videogames professionally in 1993, when Genesis and SNES roamed the earth. Over the next 15 years I worked for magazines and websites like GamePro, GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, and World Of Warcraft Official Magazine, while freelancing for Wired, PC Gamer, and many others. In an attempt to guide the next generation of reviewers, I wrote and published Critical Path: How to Review Videogames For A Living in February. Ask away!

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Last Answer on June 13, 2013

Best Rated

DREAM JOB. How does a devout gamer, especially an articulate one, get into the business of writing video game reviews?

Asked by Jason_BKNY about 7 years ago

The short and unpopular answer: First, polish your writing skills so they are worthy of a publication, then approach outlets and ask them if they use freelance writers. Nobody will approach you; you really have to take the initiative and inquire at editorial outlets if you want to write for them. Many will say no; some may say yes. If they do, you have to be ready to accept all the responsibilities that go with it. They do not want to teach you as you figure it all out. I know this sounds like a bad plug, but answering this question is why I wrote Critical Path. This was the top question I got over those 15 years, so I wanted answer it in detail for people who were truly serious about chasing this as a career (not just looking for free games). If you are serious, the 320-page answer to this question is for you.

Nintendo Ice Hockey, NHL ‘94 (one-timers, ldo), or Blades of Steel?

Asked by Ericmoz about 7 years ago

NHL Open Ice.

What do you see as the future of videogames in the next 5 - 10 years? What's the "Next Big Thing"? Is there a technological breakthrough on the horizon that will make things possible that up til now haven't been?

Asked by bort_wins about 7 years ago

I'm really not much of a prognosticator, nor am I an engineer. I don't make the games and I don't have a functional knowledge of the technology required to create them, so I don't have a good perspective on the next big thing. Besides, if I knew the answer to this, I'd be investing heavily in it. :) I do think digital distribution is inevitable -- it's a good idea and it's worked so far -- so I expect there to be more and more games bought digitally, and the storage media sizes will climb to meet it.

What old-school videogame does it make you sad that your kids aren't going to get to play?

Asked by e.weinbach about 7 years ago

All of them, because I don't plan to have kids. :) But I honestly don't believe there is a significant game that future generations won't be able to play. With the combined forces of emulation, flea markets, eBay, and serious undertakings like the Digital Game Museum (http://www.digitalgamemuseum.org/) I can't think of a reason that any significant game would be forgotten or completely out of reach.

What games of the last 20 years stand out as "watershed moments" in that they changed the playing field because of how awesome they were?

Asked by AllYourBase about 7 years ago

Doom in 1993 is the first thing that leaps to mind. Wolfenstein 3D had established the first-person genre at that point (it wasn't the first first-person perspective game, but it was the first really badass one), but Doom's curved surfaces and advanced lighting simply weren't thought to be possible at that point. It redefined what games could be. Half-Life then showed what you could do narratively with the genre in 1998 and everybody noticed. I like to remind people that Half-Life was 18 months "late" from original release projections, which caused gamers to grouse like crazy...but once everybody got the game, the only topic of discussion was the experience itself. Both of those games altered the course of the industry.

Is there a game where your review differed dramatically from the general consensus of other reviewers?

Asked by AllYourBase about 7 years ago

Yes, several times -- it is inevitable, since every review really is just an opinion. It should be a researched, experienced, and backstopped opinion -- but you are always risking the possibility that your opinion is not in line with other people's. The original Need for Speed -- the one for 3DO -- was a game that did not impress me. I thought it was too slow, especially considering the name. I came in on the very very low end of that game's public reaction and I took heat for it. I gave Space Giraffe for XBLA a 2 out of 10, while others gave it a 10 out of 10. That was a very polarizing game, but when the developer goes after you and calls you rude names in public about the review...well, ouch. But as long as my opinion is explained -- illustrated by specific points, put in the context of the experience or other experiences that the player could obtain -- I think that's just part of the job. You roll with it. It's why you have to be diligent with writing every single review and never half-assing it, because you will be challenged on it; it's just a question of how dramatically and by how many people. I think a lot of people assume that a review that falls outside of the average is "wrong," but it really should not be seen that way. Every review is information to help you make your own decision about whether that game is worth your time and money, and it should never tell you what to think. When I see one that's off the trend, I see if it has something of value to say before I discredit it.

What is the worst game you had to do a review on?

Asked by Derek about 7 years ago

I tackled this in another question, but I think the worst games I ever reviewed were Combat Cars for the Genesis (a top down racer with no mini-map) and Chicago Enforcer for Xbox, which was a very very bad 1930s FPS. The AI, the graphics, the music...nothing about the game really met my expectations for what even a budget Xbox game should be. I was amazed that it made it through certification. I also remember really disliking No Escape, which was a Genesis game based on a Ray Liotta sci-fi movie. A go-right shooter, sort of like Contra but far worse, with no checkpoints. It was brutal.