5 Minutes with Jess McDonell

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on

Jess McDonell landed one of those ‘dream gigs’ for someone straight out of uni, getting to host daily games news videos for Gamespot’s worldwide audience out of their Sydney studio. With more than half a decade now as both a host and producer for Gamespot, we catch up for 5 Minutes of what makes Jess tick. You’re going to love her superpower.

 
What do you do and where does your work appear?
I'm a video producer and host for GameSpot.
 
Anything else in your career you’ve been known for?
I was hired right out of university (actually while I was still in university) but I was in a Foxtel ad once.
 
What did you really want to be when you were growing up?
An actress for the first eighteen years. Then a psychologist, then an archaeologist, then a game developer. All of that would coalesce into my career in one way or another.
 
Which story or stories are you most proud of?
My pieces on how each major publisher is managing cross-play, mental health portrayal in video games, and the occasions I get to interview game developers and deep dive into the game creation process. 
 
What's your secret superpower?
An inability to not correct people who use the wrong 'your'.
 
What are three top tips you can give PR pros for working with you effectively?
Strong foundations built over casual catch-ups, an understanding of the brand and what we cover, and quick communication wherever possible.
 
How do you like to start a PR relationship if you've never been in touch before?
An in person catch-up over a drink.
 
What do you wish you'd never have to explain to readers ever again?
Reviews are subjective.
 
Name a recent story you wish you'd written.
Jake Dekker did an excellent video on the correct way to play The Witcher. It strikes the perfect balance of hilarious and informative which is really your sweet spot for much of the games journalism we do.
 
Who is the best journo in the industry and why?
As I'm primarily in op-eds and reviews, I admire great ex-Gamespot gaming writers like Kevin VanOrd and Carolyn Petit. Also the many documentarians who are killing it in video features. And honestly every one of my colleagues is an inspiration.
 
Which industry publications, podcasts or other productions are on your unmissable list?
On YouTube, Lessons From the Screenplay. Also, Day[9]'s livestreams, our GameSpot original programming, and anything Bon Appetit puts out which is a masterclass in production and brand-building.
 
How do you keep up with what your colleagues are writing?
Twitter, and just by virtue of being in production and loving my colleague's work, I see everything we publish.
 
Which app has changed your life more than any other?
Whatsapp for communication. And lately Tik Tok but I'm not ready to talk about just how much time it's taking from me lately. 
 
Favourite screen-free hobbies?
Picnics, walking, having a drink at the pub.
 
What's your best party trick?
My Stitch voice.
 
What’s your go-to song at karaoke?
Uptown Funk.
 
Favourite sporting moment?
Every glorious Sydney Swans win.
 
Have you ever been said to resemble a famous person or character? If so, who?
I've heard Kristen Stewart in her Twilight days and Aerith from Final Fantasy.
 
What's your favourite game of all time?
The Longest Journey.
 
Name five discs you'd want to be stuck with on a desert island?
Anything from Metric, Ariana Grande, something Taylor Swift assuming no-one can judge me by hearing it, Tame Impala, The National.
 
What was your favourite TV show of the 2010s?
Hannibal. Or Bojack Horseman. 
 
What vices do you lean into when you're chasing a tight deadline?
Not taking any breaks until what I have to do is done. So lots of meals are replaced with potato chips.
 
What's the most ridiculous buzzword in the industry?
Most of them. Game-changer. Revolution. Things that have lost their meaning.
 
The PR fairy calls saying you can have the interview of your dreams. Who's it gonna be?
Ragnar Tørnquist from Red Thread Games.
 

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