Keza MacDonald is currently one of the most recognised names working in gaming journalism. She has held some significant positions and has been published by IGN, Edge, VG/247, Eurogamer and The Guardian. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about life as a gaming journalist and, of course, discussing games.
Hey Keza, thanks for doing an interview with Nouse. How are you today?
I’m great. I’m trying to play a 3DS game and my cat keeps butting the console out of my hands. Working from home can be hard.
What is the best advice you would offer to someone who is looking for a career in gaming journalism?
Firstly, don’t rely on it – getting in is hard, and staying in is exhausting. So do your degree, have other plans, cultivate other interests – then when you write about games, which you should at every opportunity, you can do so for pleasure without staking your life on it, and if it does lead to something professional, then great.
Does it ever become unbearable to look at a game sometimes, especially after a hard day in the office?
All the time. Even great games. When I get home from work I don’t usually play games, I read or watch stuff. On holiday, I try to isolate myself from games completely. It helps keep my enthusiasm up for my work.
I see that you stepped down as the UK IGN Editor, any specific reason for this?
I had a hellish commute, so decided I’d rather work from home.
Whilst working as a journalist, who would you say that it was a pleasure to work alongside?
One of the best things about the UK games industry is the people. I’ve met a tonne of good friends and my partner through it. I loved working with my first ever features editor, Rick Porter; Rich Stanton, who used to edit me when I wrote for Edge, was also great to work with. Now I really enjoy editing people and working together to make their work shine.
What would you like to see in your ideal game?
All of my game ideas are giant huge-budget ones with cool licenses that could never happen. I would love to see a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game with Dark Soulsy demon hunting and LA Noire style investigation.
So, you reviewed Assassin’s Creed III for IGN in 2012 and received a rather hostile reception. What were your initial thoughts by the response?
People think that game reviewers are under pressure to keep scores high from publishers, but it’s not them, it’s the readers. If you tell people who are really looking forward to something that perhaps it’s not as utterly great as they think it’ll be, they don’t like it at all. A lot of people want to be told that everything is awesome. And then those same people will be calling the game overrated six months later.
With Nintendo coming to terms with its disappointing fiscal year, what do you think the future holds for them?
A console that’s both handheld and home-console, like a DS that connects to your TV when you’re at home. And, hopefully, a subscription service for their back-catalogue.
What was the experience like to feature on Charlie Brooker’s How Videogames Changed the World?
That was really fun! I enjoy going on TV – talking about games to people who don’t know much about them is a totally different experience from my usual job.
What is your favourite next-generation console at the moment?
PS4. I just don’t like using the Xbox One, the various apps take too long to load and I don’t like the design. Not much in it games-wise, though.
Finally, what is the title that you are looking forward to in 2014 and why?
The Witcher 3 – I’m playing through Dark Souls again in preparation for Dark Souls 2, and it’s just making me want another Witcher. Witcher 3 is properly open-world and the series’ writing is top-notch; what I’ve seen of it so far looks game-changingly good.