Army Vet Injects Military Experience into Video Game Writing

An Aberdeen man's military experience factors into his success in writing reviews for military- and war-based video games.

Alabama native Jim Moreno has had his gaming articles published in print and online gaming media outlets. He credits his military experience, love of gaming and passion for history for his journalistic success.

"I started playing video games before I joined the Army," Moreno said. The first game Moreno said he played was the arcade game Pong while with his dad at a honky tonk in Texas.

Moreno joined the U.S. Army in 1988 and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

During his 10 years of service, Moreno fought in the Gulf War. In 1998, he transitioned to serving in the National Guard, where he was offered a military history writing job.

"I've always been a military history buff and all that just kind of coalesced to being a writer," Moreno said. "My specialty is military."

Moreno left his job as a writer for the National Guard to pursue a career in freelance journalism in 2001.

"I was used to a military lifestyle at the time then all the sudden I've got this free time," Moreno recalled. "So I said if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it the way I know how to do things."

With that, Moreno dove into the world of gaming journalism, where he used self-discipline to produce articles, which he would then deliver to publishers and other gaming media outlets around the country.

And by deliver, Moreno said he would literally deliver his work by flying across the country to meet with publishers so he could hand them the article himself.

That's how he was able to get his work published by PC Gamer magazine in 2010, which he said was a defining moment in his career.

The article was a review of the game "Din's Curse," which Moreno described as a "Diablo"-style action role-playing game that was independently developed.

Moreno has also done other writing jobs in the gaming industry, such as writing the official manual for the Kalypso game "Omerta: City of Gangsters."

As the technology continues to evolve so does the gaming industry. Moreno said the overall quality of games is improving and becoming a staple in the entertainment industry in general.

"Not only can the stories be written by excellent writers, games are getting movie writers now," Moreno said. "The technology is also catching up -- we've got virtual reality coming up now and there's just an overall tremendous growth, especially in the last 10 years. Back in the '80s, it was just 'Let's put a character in the game, then put in a maze and they shoot their way through.' Now, if you look at the entertainment aspects of it, the budgets for military games have surpassed movies, music and television."

Moreno said those budgets can reach into the million-dollar range and said that allows games to have more realistic special effects.

Which means attention to detail, especially in military games, is invaluable.

War games can also help veterans cope after coming home from real life war, Moreno said. Playing video games was an unlikely way for him to acclimate back into civilian life after coming home from the Gulf War.

"When you come back from war, everybody is a little different, so gaming allowed me to get into my mind and work things through," he said. "There's a lot of internal thinking -- pretty much like when you're writing. You work through all that without realizing you're working through it."

By using his experience from the military and travels along with his background in historical writing, Moreno hopes his writing can help games find out what works and how to make the next game better and plans to keep at gaming journalism so long as his hands allow.

"I'm going to keep playing until these hands don't work anymore. I'm going to keep writing until I can't write anymore."

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