By Paul Mullin
At first glance he’s the typical college male, complete with a fraternity membership and what might seem like an unhealthy obsession with video games. But in his case, his passion is taking him somewhere.
Junior Justin Scerbo, a journalism major and brother of Tau Kappa Epsilon, has managed to combine his hobby and his major: He created a video game review Web site using Google’s free service, Google Sites. He started the site, http://zeroskerbo.googlepages.com/zeroreviews, in May of 2008, and his first review was of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 4 on June 12, 2008.
And all of this led to an unassuming application to the gaming industry’s ultimate gathering, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which actually yielded results.
“Over the summer, I saw they were doing registration for E3, and I said, you know, let me just see if this will happen,” Scerbo said.
A representative of the Electronic Software Association, who was “wondering what the registration was all about,” then contacted Scerbo.
“I told her I was an ‘online media journalist’ and an aspiring game critic and that I thought attending an event like this would help me get some publicity and start meeting people in the right places,” Scerbo said.
About a month ago, Scerbo received an invitation to this year’s expo, being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 3-5, as “an official media correspondent.” Scerbo said he will be staying there all three days and posting updates on his site about what he encounters.
“The way E3 usually works, there are usually three press conferences at the beginning of each day — one each from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft — so I guess I would just start off by going to the conferences and then taking a break after that to write sum-ups to say what their big points were and what the big announcements were,” Scerbo said. “Then I’ll probably just walk around the show floor and try and schmooze with the business professionals and see what’s going on.”
Scerbo got his start writing for GameFAQs.com in December 2007, posting his first review on Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. GameFAQs is a site dedicated to providing game guides, reviews and cheats on a mostly user-generated basis.
“[Writing for GameFAQs] was fun, but it wasn’t really a main thing I was trying to do,” Scerbo said. “I was just messing around with it.”
After a few classes taught him to be a better writer and he began to observe what other reviewers were doing, Scerbo started Zero Reviews and a LiveJournal page to get responses on his material.
“I figured that my Web site was where I was going to start writing reviews on pretty much anything: new stuff I was playing, any other new stuff that was going on,” Scerbo said. “And LiveJournal is what I would use to get feedback on things. Different users would say, ‘Hey, I really like this’ or ‘Hey, you should review this.’”
While he mostly does written reviews on the site, Scerbo has also uploaded several video blog posts, ranging from a discussion between him and a friend of last year’s E3 to a video review of Sony’s LittleBigPlanet. He also posts occasional updates on the systems themselves.
Although he admits the site isn’t “too big yet,” Scerbo began taking it more seriously after the invite to E3 and is currently in the process of reprogramming it and purchasing an official URL, “thezeroreview.com.”
“I’m just some kid, doing something I like to do,” he said.