Sponsored By

Gamasutra Podcast Talks To Shawn Elliott On Moving From Journalism To Development

Our latest Gamasutra Podcast catches up with Shawn Elliott, previously a EGM and Games For Windows Magazine veteran and now working at 2K Boston, discussing his extensive background in journalism and the lessons he learned from analyzing the appeal of gam

Tom Kim, Blogger

September 29, 2008

3 Min Read

Gamasutra is proud to present the latest Gamasutra Podcast, part of our regular GDC Radio podcasts, which include both the Tom Kim-presented Gamasutra Podcast show, alongside the best lectures, tutorials, and roundtables from this and previous years' Game Developers Conferences. For today's podcast, we present an interview with Shawn Elliott, newly appointed associate producer at 2K Games, Boston. He was previously senior executive editor of 1UP.com's PC coverage after having served prior stints as Features and Previews editor at Games for Windows and Electronic Gaming Monthly magazines. Before retiring the show, Shawn was also a co-host of the rambling and rambunctious GfW Radio Podcast. Shawn has been a staple in games coverage since 2003 after starting out his career at EGM. Over the years, Shawn has proven to be an observant and vocal commentator on, and participant in the video game and PC enthusiast press. He has brought his background as an English Literature major and his graduate studies in creative writing to his career. Although to date he hasn't worked in game development, he literally made it his business to examine and reflect on the factors and mechanics that make games compelling, and to write about his experiences playing games in a manner that both served the enthusiast press. Yet, he still ventured outside of the solid practice of writing about games as consumer product. Our interview starts with a word of explanation from Shawn about his decision to leave games journalism and enter the field of game development, including Shawn's thoughts about the applicability of his work experience, advice for aspiring game developers, and some direct answers behind his motivations to shift his career. We discuss Shawn's opinions about the difference between writing for print versus writing for the Web. Shawn muses about the end of the print incarnation of Games for Windows Magazine. We then talk about his background, specifically his decision to pursue his given fields of study and how gaming intersected with his other interests. Shawn further explains how his academic background informed his thought process and writing about games, including his shifts in language and attitude depending on the audience. We also discuss his approach to writing reviews -- how he tries to capture the experience of playing a game and to explain in a tangible way exactly what makes a game compelling to him -- plus the various implications of attaching scores to reviews. We transition to Shawn's advice for aspiring game writers, both in general and specific terms. He then muses on the genres of games that appeal to him and why, including some personal anecdotes relating to his fascination. He goes on at length about the fulfillment one feels regarding mastery and competence in games as far-ranging as the Soulcalibur series and Company of Heroes. Shawn then tries to explain the motivations behind his creative griefing, and some very general behavioral observations of online communities while playing games, comparing his virtual pranks to some of the stunts that he's pulled in reality. We close out our conversation with some thoughts about unacknowledged gaming treasures and developer and publisher leverage in the marketplace. Because we recorded the interview before the launch of Spore, we speculate on what features of gameplay we were anticipating in that title. You can now download the Gamasutra Podcast interview with Shawn Elliott, new associate producer at 2K Boston. In addition, you can subscribe to the Gamasutra podcasts by clicking this link for iTunes. You can manually subscribe to our feed in your favorite RSS reader that supports enclosures by using this URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/GDCRadio.

About the Author(s)

Tom Kim


Tom Kim is the host and executive producer of the Gamasutra Podcast on GDC Radio (http://www.gdcradio.net/gamasutra_podcast), an editorial and commentary show covering important issues facing the game development community and game culture. Tom is a lifelong avid gamer going back to 1978, honing his nascent gaming skills on Sears Tele-Games Pong and some of the earliest PC games on the original Apple ][. He has worked as a graphic designer, art director, interactive designer, game designer and producer. He has over 16 years experience as an art director, creative director, and marketing consultant for companies such as BMW of North America, Bungie Software, Circuit City Stores, Konami of North America, LucasArts Games, Nintendo of America, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung Electronics Worldwide, Sony Online Entertainment, Walgreen Co., and others. Tom graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. degree in neurobiology, and attended DigiPen Institute of Technology's program in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. He is an active member of the Chicago chapter of the International Game Developers Association. He lives in the 'burbs with his lovely wife and son who can both beat him handily in Wii Sports Boxing.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like