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Lucy James Was Almost A Doctor, But Gaming Called Instead

Lucy James Gamespot

Lucy James regularly presents to over 100 million gamers, finding herself in front of the gaming masses at GameSpot and Giant Bomb, but her career almost went in a very different direction. On the cards were jobs in archaeology, criminology, medicine, and law, but a chance encounter with The Sims changed everything.

James grew up in the UK — those there would call her a Geordie, but she’s spent enough time presenting to a US audience that you wouldn’t really know it. She didn’t really grow up with games consoles like a lot of people in her generation, but had a few experiences here and there with a friend’s Genesis.

Eventually, though, her dad bought a PC, and soon she’d spend her time connecting with him by playing games like Tomb Raider, Quake, and Doom. James loved the allure of gaming, while her dad was very much all about the gadgetry of it.

“My dad is very… He loves a gadget,” James tells GLHF, “He loves the process of researching something, comparing everything, and then eventually pulling the trigger. Every time you go around, he's like, ‘Here's my new thing’.”

As she fell further into the depths of gaming, she and her friend loaded up The Sims, and suddenly all bets were off. She became obsessed, quickly convincing her mum to buy a PS2, diving into games like Kingdom Hearts and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. When the Xbox 360 came out, she jumped on that too, losing countless hours to games like Red Dead Redemption.

Related: Every Kingdom Hearts Game, Ranked From Worst to Best

“I think there's a point in my life, pre-2010, where I was just playing games purely to muck around in them,” James says, “I don't want to put all the blame on Red Dead Redemption, but that felt like a turning point, and that's when I started to seek out gaming narratives and more interesting stories.”

Before long she was dedicating days to Mass Effect, weeks to Dragon Age. She was studying psychology at college, but Bioshock’s Rapture called her to the depths, and she puzzled her way through Portal, rebuffing GLaDOS’s insults along the way. Gaming had well and truly sunk its claws into her, and before long, she found herself in a month-long internship at GameSpot.

At GameSpot, she learned the ins and outs of games journalism in a trial by fire, writing about and critiquing games, making videos, interviewing developers. Her future career was being forged in the fires of a Mass Effect 3 preview, and while she didn’t realize it at the time, her natural showmanship and charisma would rub off on people from Ginx TV.

“My second day on the job was filming Start/Select with [GameSpot],” James recalls, “I got to go to a Mass Effect 3 preview, which was crazy for me because I was such a big fan of the series. I played it like two months early and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, this is a job.’ I learned so much about video production. They taught me how to edit videos. They taught me how to capture. I interviewed developers from Creative Assembly.”

The rest is history. She was snapped up by Ginx as a presenter, and had to learn quickly — how to act naturally in front of a camera, how to recover when things go wrong, how to make presenting look easy. Now, she’s one of the most watched women in gaming. She works with Fandom on Gamespot and Giant Bomb, she’s worked as an official presenter at the launch of the PS4. Heck, she’s even presented awards at the BAFTAs, which is no small feat.

Lucy James is viewed by millions of gamers each and every week. <p>GameSpot / YouTube</p>
Lucy James is viewed by millions of gamers each and every week.

GameSpot / YouTube

She’s a woman of many hats, having also collaborated on the Friends Per Second podcast, which attracts hundreds of thousands of listeners every episode. She’s raised thousands of dollars for charity, made an impact on her audience with open dialogue about mental health, interviewed more big game personalities than you can count, and even written comics.

Lucy James could have been a doctor, a lawyer, a criminologist, or an archaeologist. “But,” she laughs, “I became a degenerate gamer instead.” And given all the good a degenerate gamer like Lucy James can do in the world, that’s probably for the best.

Related: Red Dead Redemption Gets A Surprise 60fps Patch On PlayStation