WWW FEATURE: ELENA SCHULZ
Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our new weekly series featuring inspirational women from the games and tech industry. Today’s post features Elena Schulz who is a freelancer, an artist and a games journalist, writing for GameStar and her own blog. We have asked about herself and the projects she is passionate about.
Hi Elena! You’re a games journalist, communication designer and an artist. How do you combine those three different passions?
Elena: It can be difficult sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always knew I needed to do something creative. I tried to study law and computer science, but I always came back to it. Writing and drawing have been my greatest passion since childhood. I was worried I had to choose someday between those two, but now I know I just can’t give up on either. That probably explains why I need to combine those tree things – they’re all so important to me. And that’s also what I like about games: They aren’t one thing or another, they combine art, a story and interactive gameplay. The focus shifts from title to title, but I never met an artform that suits me so well, because I don’t have to choose.
I studied communication design to be an artist in the gaming or film industry one day. But then life happend and I got a job as a gaming journalist. I worked as a freelancer for GameStar and GamePro during my studies and really enjoyed it. As a journalist you have different perspective on games, you need to fully understand them, play them differently and really get the gist. I learned a great deal about games, how they work, why I like specific things and what separates a good game from a bad one.
So after that, I chose to work fulltime as a journalist for one year and joined the GameStar editorial team. But now, I’m a freelancer again. I was too worried to choose one side over the other too soon. I’m journalist, but I want to be an artist too. And I would like to take the knowledge from being a gaming journalist and produce my own games with that some day. I don’t really now what the future brings, if I will be an author and artist in the gaming industry one day or a journalist who just likes to paint in her freetime. But right now, I like to explore both further and take my time: I’m looking for new studies which suit me and help me to improve my skills. As a freelancer I have more time for other things, so I try make it as an artist, too. I already sold some pictures, which makes me quite proud. But it’s a long way to go and I’m still practicing and learning.
What’s your motivation behind setting up your own blog “The Last Pixel” for games journalism? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
There are certain rules, when you write for big gaming magazines. Usually they are funded with advertising. Of course, there are programs like “GameStar Plus”, where you pay for commercial-free high quality content like detailed reports. But most of the time, the interest of the readers dictates what to write about. That’s not a bad thing. It’s always like that on the internet, where everything is free and there are very vew games I do not have any interest in, probably just sport games like FIFA, and there are other journalists to cover those topics. So I can still write about the games I like. I can even generate interest, If I find an interesting indie game, that tells a cool story and present it to the readers. If you read my articles you know that I do that quite a lot, because I love all those small games with big ideas out there.
But sometimes there are ideas, that just don’t fit a site. Because they are to personal, to complex, to irrelevant for most of the readers to invest time and money in them. That’s why I created my blog. I wanted to have a place where I could ignore those rules. Where I just can write everything down that’s on my mind. It happens a lot that when I play a certain game, something just pops up and I can’t forget about it, but it doesn’t find its way into the review or another article. That’s where The Last Pixel comes into play. It’s about the small pixel treasures of the gaming world, personal stories and ideas which explore the other sides of games. Like when you look at the details, suddenly you see a completely different picture. I was, for example, so fascinated about the fake permadeath feature in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice that I had to write about, what it meant for me as a player.
You’ve transitioned from a fulltime job at GameStar to a freelancer, two very different styles of working. How come?
It has a lot to do with the things I explained in the first answer. I like a lot to be free and divide my time like I want to, because there are so many things I want to have time for. Drawing and writing are both hobbies and jobs which need a lot of practice to get better. So you have to invest quite a lot of time. And of course, there are other things like sport, friends, family and lazy evenings, where I just want to watch netflix all the time. I loved working as a journalist in fulltime, but it really is a fulltime job. If you love, what you do, you just can’t do it nine to five. You’re always up to date with the latest gaming news, play games on the weekends to write an article about them on Monday and so on.
That’s fine with me, because I just work like that. I could never do something just to make money, so I need to invest myself like that in my job. It has always been my hobby and my love and passion too. But as a freelancer it’s just easier to switch your focus and try new things. I feel like I’m still young and have so much to learn. So I kind of thought, that there is too much out there and it’s to soon to ignore it all to do one thing for the rest of my life. I can imagine to be a fulltime gaming journalist one day, just not right now. At the moment, I believe, I need to be everything at once, to be happy and to understand, what’s best for me. That’s the first big reason. The other is, that I wanted to study again. Communication design really taught me a lot, but it was all very practical and learning by doing. Now I want to expand my knowledge by learning something entirely new to gain a new perspective which helps me to get better at both things, art and writing.
Thank you for your time!
Elena’s social links:
The Last Pixel: http://thelastpixel.de