It’s been a week since the end times arrived, and today marked the first time since then I really stopped to think about what’s next. Yes, I was subsumed immediately into IGN’s vast machine, but I’ve been in something of a daze since then: Stunned by the magnitude of immediately being thrust into a senior position in a publication whose inner workings are so much larger (and so different) than what I’m used to; bummed by the loss of good friends who had been working closely with me every day for years; and hiding my face in Etrian Odyssey IV to avoid having to think too hard about it all.
But today, I really paused to take it in. And you know? It’s pretty weird to be an editor at IGN. When I first started using the World Wide Web in earnest, IGN in its earliest days — the days of PSXPower, N64.com, Ultra Game Players — offered me my window into the professional facet of video game writing. Sure, it was pretty off-the-cuff and amateurish in those days, because even Edge/Next Gen were relatively basic in most respects back then, but it was still a legit view of gaming news, for free, on the Internet. Before IGN, all the gaming information I could find came from fan sites (everything from Andrew Vestal’s Unofficial Squaresoft Home Page to those bizarre Final Fantasy-themed “towns” that dotted the early web) and message boards. USENET, where lots of modern-day industry figures used to argue with one another about games, was tough to access from the basic Web back them. The Internet was still fragmented into all those standards competing with HTTP — WAIS, Gopher, etc. — so the hotbed of nerdery that was USENET remained beyond my grasp unless I logged on through AOL, of all things.
IGN changed that. It was a little loose, a little crass, but nevertheless did a remarkable job of not only bringing gaming news on a daily basis, but bringing up-to-date news. I do not exaggerate when I say it changed my perspective on games, making me far more aware of the industry and creative process behind games. IGN was a huge part of my evening Internet ritual for years: I’d refresh my browser after dinner and hey, gaming news. In fact, I read the site regularly up until I got fed up with video games in the midst of what I’m pretty sure should be diagnosed as a serious depression in the time leading up to my move out to California and 1UP.
I also won a few contests there. I won both a copy of Alundra and a PlayStation for an RPG contest. Their marketing department was as bad about fulfillment as any website’s marketing department and months later I had to bug Jay Boor (now a publicist at Konami) about my goodies. He was awesome about getting my prizes to me, but for some reason he also included a beef stew MRE in the box. It must have been some kind of misbegotten promo mailing he wanted to get off his desk, but… ugh. I also won a copy of Super Mario 64 for photoshopping War Gods‘ Kabuki Joe (a strange N64.com injoke) into that famous photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, but they never mailed that one, either. When I went back into the site archives to find the contest as proof, it was curiously nowhere to be found.
Anyway, the point is, I would never have guessed as a JMC student hitting refresh on stories about Pokémon giving Japanese kids seizures that someday I’d be an executive editor at that site. It is, in fact, absolutely bizarre to think about. But kind of cool.