8 years of gratitude

I first saved an empty draft of this post in April of 2014. I was approaching the beginning of my eighth year with Joystiq and reflecting on everything I’d done in what once seemed like an impossible career.

If you’ve been keeping up with the (admittedly insular) world of video game news, you’ll know that quite a lot has changed in the intervening months. Joystiq, as it was, no longer exists. I can’t say that I’m grateful for its closure, though that hasn’t blunted my gratitude for all that Joystiq has brought me. When I was 23, it enabled me to earn a living doing something I loved, a privilege that very few get to enjoy. The job was always just a job though. Certainly I loved it, but, as I’ve written elsewhere, I try not to define myself by what I do. It’s easy to conflate work, hobbies and passions with self-identity, but I think people are a much more appropriate measurement. In that regard, I am extraordinarily wealthy. Joystiq has introduced me to some of the most wonderful people a person could meet, many of whom I’m fortunate enough to call my friends. I’m eternally grateful to everyone I’ve worked with at Joystiq.

Chris Grant gave me my career, starting at five bucks a post. Justin McElroy helped me define my critical voice. JC Fletcher taught me the importance of humor in the face of everything. I will forever be envious of Ludwig Kietzmann’s incredible writing ability, an unachievable benchmark that I have always struggled to meet. Alexander Sliwinski, Dave Hinkle, Dustin Burg and Xav de Matos are my friends and confidants. Susan Arendt, meanwhile, has given me one of the fastest and best friendships I’ve ever had, and she taught me not to take guff and not to give it.

Of all the Joystiqs I’ve been a part of – and there have been many permutations – it’s the Joystiq of 2015 that I will miss the most. Ludwig, Susan, Alexander, Mike, Jess, Sam, Sinan, Danny, Anthony, Xav, Earnest, Thomas: You are all enormously talented, passionate and caring people, and it kills me that I don’t get to spend every day with you anymore. It hurts my heart to think we may never shake hands, hug or throw controllers at each other ever again. I hope that’s not how it turns out, but I’ve accepted that it might. Regardless, you all get an Excellence Award from me. It’s rare that we even like the people that we work with, let alone love them.

As for what I’ll do next (some of you seem to care), I’m not really sure. I don’t know if I will remain in the game industry and, honestly, I haven’t really been keeping up with it since Joystiq shut down. As I’ve said before, Joystiq is where I got my gaming news. Without it, I don’t even know what to read.

Regardless of what I do now, I wouldn’t change my time with Joystiq for anything. In eight years, I’ve accomplished childhood dreams many times over. I’ve been to the Tokyo Game Show twice. I’ve covered eight E3s. I’ve been to GDC, PAX, PAX East, IndieCade, Gamescom. I’ve walked through the halls of Bungie Studios. I’ve met Sam Lake, Peter Molyneux, Frank O’Connor. Chet Faliszek and Eric Wolpaw, Keiji Inafune, Koji Igarashi, Akira Yamaoka, Yukio Futatsugi, Suda 51 and more. I’ve seen the rise of the independent games community and engaged with some of its best and brightest, including Rami Ismail of Vlambeer, Sean Murray of Hello Games, Mike Bithell, Kelly Wallick of the Indie MegaBooth, James Silva of Ska Studios, Jasper Koning at Ronimo and who knows how many others. If you ever have the opportunity, spend some time with someone in the indie space. Their enthusiasm for games is infectious. Which reminds me, I’ve also sat down with Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey, who has sparked what looks to be an oncoming virtual reality explosion.

What more could I ask for? The only other thing I can think of would have been the occasional opportunity to share Umami Burger and drinks with some of the best writers and people in the industry – but I had that too. I don’t know what I’ll do next, but if I can surround myself with people that are half as good as those I’ve met and worked with at Joystiq, I’ll be a lucky man.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to every person that reached out to me and my Joystiq colleagues in the past few weeks. I appreciated every word of encouragement, and I’m absolutely humbled to think that my work had a positive influence on others. I only hope I can continue to do so.

So long, Joystiq, and thanks for all the friends.

[Image: Joystiq / AOL]

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