By request of alexkidd2
My initial response to the request for a history of this site was to scrunch up my face like Will Smith and shout, “Aw, hell naw!” Could there possibly be a story more boring than me writing about this website? But since this week marks 15 years since the proper launch of this site, I figured I might as well.
Actually, to be totally technical, I started the site not in 1999, but back in 1996 — its primal form. That form was a stupid page about Ranma 1/2 and a lot of placeholder “coming soon!” text to sections that would never exist. At the end of May 1999, though, I launched an actual website, with multiple sections and regular content additions and even a daily update web log on the front page… but the word and concept of “blogging” didn’t exist back then, and since my punchy little updates actually related to moderately substantial pieces of written content, it didn’t really qualify as an e/n site, either. It was just a little word-fart into the ether.
I know there are some people still reading who remember “ToastyFrog Jump!” which I designed to be as garish and loud as possible to emulate the eye-vomit approach of Japanese magazines (e.g. Shonen Jump) as best as possible within the limits of 20th century HTML. I divided the site into several sections (video games, anime, etc.) and balanced content pretty equally between them all. Since I used to draw a lot back then — life hadn’t yet crushed all the creativity from my soul at that point — site mascots ToastyFrog (a frog) and Rorita (a satire of “magical girls,” whose career had washed up because she’d turned 15) served as emissaries to the world. There was also a section devoted to King Vitaman and other generic off-brand breakfast cereal mascots, because I was young and had nothing better to do with my life.
ToastyFrog Jump! had two distinguishing features that I dearly miss. One, a splash page introduction to the site that usually involved some sort of parody, such as this send-up of Frank Zappa; and two, a particularly eye-searing shade of orangish-pink that served as the background color for several years. One of these days I’m going to hack the CSS here to restore that shade to the current background, and then you’ll all be sorry.
The site managed to pick up traffic pretty quickly thanks to my regular content contributions to the Gaming Intelligence Agency that exploitatively linked back here. I flayed open the Chrono Cross demo, which created a huge traffic spike… except not a spike, because it never dropped back to its previous levels. Yes, the Internet used to work like that! People would come visit a site and then stick around, as opposed to today’s flash mob approach of sudden burst of high traffic followed by precipitous drops. So weird, right?
And then, the following year, I killed the site dead in a fit of… ah, who knows. Pique? Depression? I let it lay fallow for a few weeks and retooled it into a site built around covering 2D gaming news. And then, even more than now, no one cared. 2D gaming was pretty much the most uncool thing in the universe in 2000. Not like now, when it’s what all the hip kids are making. Eventually, ToastyFrog 2D crept back to being what it had originally been. A year after that, I abandoned ship from my home in Texas and began bouncing around the country, the site became a sort of constant in my life that I could always turn to no matter how uneven things became. Even when things turned around and I started working at 1UP.com, I kept plugging away at ToastyFrog.com.
After working at 1UP for a few years, I decided I’d squirreled away enough anecdotes to create a comic about working for a games website. I wrote dozens of strips of continuity — close to 100, actually! — in which the character ToastyFrog went to work for a site called GameSpite, whose logo was clearly a satire of GameSpot’s but whose staff was clearly 1UP circa the first season of the 1UP Show. I gender-flipped EIC Sam Kennedy to make it slightly less conspicuous. I managed to draw and publish maybe half a dozen of the strips I’d written before accepting that I’m not very good at creating comic strips and gave up. But unfortunately, that moment of lucidity didn’t hit me until after I’d actually changed the site’s name and URL to GameSpite. Oh well.
That’s pretty much the story of this site: Big ambitions, precipitous changes, and no resolution. The closest thing that’s ever happened to a consistent, reliable system here was the GameSpite Quarterly venture, which turned out really well until the world stopped caring, which happened around the time I took over as EIC of 1UP and could no longer devote so much time to the project. So that’s fizzled out, too (though I swear to god I’m going to finish off the second Sega history volume one of these days). The change of name to 2-Dimensions happened as a result of another of those failed ambitions; I was planning last year to try creating a small self-published magazine focused on 2D media (not just games, but animation, comics, and even art). Clearly that’s gone nowhere.
I admit I’ve done a pretty lousy job with the site since taking the top slot at 1UP a few years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since I left San Francisco. Splitting off Anatomy of Games and launching Game Boy World hasn’t helped, either, since that’s content that would normally show up here. Oh well! I guess this history of the site turned out to be more of a eulogy… how tragic.
But to end this on a positive note, here are my five all-time favorite bits of content I’ve posted to GameSpite. (Oh, P.S., I’ve changed the site’s name back from 2-Dimensions to GameSpite, since that magazine idea turned out to be dead in the water.)
- Guild Woes: An Etrian Odyssey Tale – Half game analysis, half fan-fiction. Suck it, jerks. It’s good.
- WarioWare: Micro Megagame$ – Less a review than a conversation between myself and two imaginary characters. Whatever.
- Worst Ending – Video game webcomics! How awful! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
- GameSpite & Ham – The only good thing to come from the GameSpite comic idea. 1 – 2
- I Feel Young – A rare opportunity to combine criticism of different media.
Anyway, to everyone who has stuck around all this time (or has contributed to the site in some fashion), thanks! I’m afraid the next 15 years won’t be as varied and interesting as the previous 15, but you’re welcome to keep the site in your RSS aggregator nevertheless.