“But wait,” you say, “you only just started at IGN! And you’re already leaving!? What kind of stupid shenanigans are you on about?”
Well, it’s true that I came on board with IGN two months ago, when 1UP was shut down. But in a different sense, I came here two years ago when Hearst dumped 1UP and UGO like a bizarre hot potato that they found confusingly incompatible with their stodgy print rubric. And in another sense altogether, I’ve been here since 2003, when 1UP hired me out of obscurity in some dying state across the country — throughout all the mergers and layoffs and closures and other shakeouts, I’ve somehow been in the same hire position for nearly a decade. (And let me tell you, it sucks to give up that kind of corporate seniority. I’ll miss my fat wads of annual earned vacation time, even if I did spend every single vacation over the past decade working.)
So yeah, I’m leaving IGN, and it’s for entirely personal reasons. It’s not because I hate the site or the people I work with or any kind of conflict at all. If I didn’t think IGN as a publication and an entity had merit, I wouldn’t have come aboard in the first place. I knew Ziff-Davis was going to bring the headman’s axe down on 1UP’s neck from a very long way off, and I could very easily put myself within the axe’s arc. (It wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve volunteered for a layoff.) That would have been the smart thing to do in light of the fact that I’m leaving just two months later — I passed up a pretty sweet severance package! — but I really wanted to give it a go here, and I don’t regret staying aboard… even if it didn’t work out quite like I had hoped.
Ultimately, the simple fact is that I find IGN is a little too big for me. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a site of its magnitude by any means, but it’s not my ideal environment. Turns out I’m an introvert through and through, personally and professionally. That doesn’t mean I’m shy or scared of public speaking or whatever misconceptions come to mind when you hear the word “introvert” — it means I’m in my element when I’m alone or in a small group. When I’m hanging out with others, I’m perfectly outgoing in a group of three or four. Any larger a group than that, though, and I fade into the background. Apparently the same thing happens at work, and while I suppose that’s always been true, I’ve only now fully come to fully realize it.
Heading up a team of four at 1UP was the greatest professional challenge of my life, but also the most rewarding. After a couple of months at IGN, I’ve come to realize that I simply need to be part of a smaller team structure to properly thrive.
But like I said, I don’t regret for a minute having stuck around to see behind the curtain of how a relatively huge publication like IGN functions — and I use the term “huge” not just to refer to its staff size, but also its scope and reach. (I gotta tell you, it’s pretty damn satisfying to publish a review and know 50,000 people are going to read it.) Every time I see an accusation or supposedly informed claim of IGN’s innate corruption and moneyhats and lol publisher x’s check bounced and they only got a 7.0, I have to roll my eyes, because my role at the company was specifically to serve as the barrier between Sales and Editorial, the guy who ran interference between the two different sides of the company to keep Editorial operating in a sort of vacuum of purity, while giving Sales information and ideas enough about the content plan to allow them to do their job of keeping the company afloat.
Admittedly, it wasn’t really my dream position — serving as the McDLT box of editorial integrity, as it were — but I’m glad I had the chance to see the process in action. I’ve recommended that whoever they hire as my replacement go a step further and take on an ombudsman role to maintain an even more hermetic seal between the two divisions.
So what now? Well, I’m going on my freaking honeymoon. And not only that, but it’s going to be the first true vacation I’ve had in a decade. I’m not taking any work at all with me, because I don’t have any work. Which isn’t to say I won’t have a job waiting for me when I get back, because I absolutely do… but I’ll talk about that later. For today, I’m going to wrap things up at IGN and enjoy the company of the friends I’ve made here for a few last hours. After somehow surviving a decade of layoffs, it’s kind of nice to be able to end my time here on my own terms, because they’re totally amicable. I’m grateful to Tal Blevins and Steve Butts for taking a chance on me, and I feel bad about turning around so quickly and bailing on them, but it’s nothing personal. Or rather, it’s entirely personal: A wholly personal choice about my needs and aspirations, and nothing more than that.
I’m looking forward to my vacation and my new venture, but at the same time I’m also looking forward to seeing where IGN goes from here. These kids got moxie.