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The Well Traveled Game Editor

Posted on September 15, 2009 by Flames

For many years, I existed in a shadowy realm that bordered on true darkness: I lived the life of a non-gamer. This world of strategy, role-playing, plotting and power unfolded in my adult years when I started to date a gamer.

It was only natural that I would look to combine this newfound lifestyle with my other passion, editing. And while you might snigger about the editing, other obsessive-compulsive grammar serfs will understand.

How do people land a freelancing job inside the game industry? For me, the answer was a whole lot of luck and a decent amount of editing skill.

I have a degree in journalism and have spent about a decade editing professionally. I read grammar books compulsively when I’m not working on a project. Thus, I had enough confidence and experience to bolster my resolve to walk into new waters.

I also was lucky to have a contact. While at Norwescon in Sea-Tac, Wash., I introduced myself to a panelist who was a former Wizards of the Coast editor. He offered me tips on how to approach the in-house editors and put in a word with his WotC friends. He told me to ask for an editing test, which I did.

If you go this route, I cannot express enough just how important this test is. Take your time, know your stylebooks, and look up every proper noun and reference. This is your one shot to possibly land that dream job — you know, the one where you get paid to edit in the world in which you play. You can even be in your pajamas when you do it.

Several weeks later, I was dancing around my house thrilled to pieces over an e-mail saying I had passed the test and would be added into the system. WotC started me off editing Dungeon articles; then I was moved into RPG books.

When you land a contract, you’ll be assigned to an in-house editor. That person is your connection through the assignment. He or she will set deadlines for you and will answer your questions.

Remember when I said I had enough confidence in my skill as an editor to approach WotC? Well, it turns out that game editing is vastly different from, say, newspaper editing. There’s a new language to learn, an alternate focus, game rules to memorize and, yeah, math. Math!

When my lead editor on a project told me to make stuff up, the newspaper copy editor in me died a little bit.

Here is when you really win: If an in-house person bothers to teach you anything new, accept that teaching as the valuable gift it is. He or she is investing time in you. Take criticism with grace and appreciate the time that is being spent to train you. Also, take notes and go over those notes regularly throughout a project.

RPG editing is fun and interesting, but I must stress that it is work — hard, brain-melting work. There are reams of information to remember, a library to scour for facts and references, and a new culture to master. There is also responsibility and commitment. By signing that contract, you have promised to do the work, do it well and do it on time. If you break your commitment, the game is over.

Dawn J. Geluso – 2009

Dawn J. Geluso is a freelance editor and print designer. She can be reached at or through her Web site at

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3 Responses to “The Well Traveled Game Editor”

  1. Shari says: … that is quite possibly the best name EVER for an editor’s website. Good article. 🙂

  2. Billzilla says:

    Nice piece; thanks for sharing it with us! Always good to hear from another professional in the biz. Is there anything you’re working on these days that you can talk about?


  3. Dawn Geluso says:

    Thanks, Shari. My husband came up with it.

    Hi, Bill. I worked on “Dungeon Delve” and “Draconomicon 2.” I’m currently working on “Monster Manual 3.” It’s intense but brilliant.

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