So there’s that

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,, 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 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.

18 thoughts on “So there’s that

  1. It’s been years since I was anything close to a regular IGN reader, in fact my homepage up to my senior year of college was until a friend pointed out 1up.
    I never looked back, but now due to circumstances, I am back to logging into an unrecognizable IGN homepage. The thing that I adored about 1up was its features and (even in its most poorly designed days) simplicity. I can’t really make heads-or-tails of the modern IGN site (I am not even really sure where the ‘write blog’ button is on my profile…)
    On that note, your past 3 EOIV blogs have been, well, homey. It feels like a little piece of the site I adored hidden in the bowels of IGN.
    Where in the organization are you going to be slotted in? Aren’t they pretty segregated into various Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo etc. silos? Are you going to podcast there (even though I got the impression you never really liked the work involved in uploading your dulcet tones onto iTunes?

  2. I hope this means the return of “Golden eye is an eye tat is golden.”
    Just kidding. It’s really cool that you’re still with the games journalism or whatever they call it these days. Back when i was in college, i used to know the exact time IGN would update and would always visit around then. Then i’d visit that Toastyfrog site that was just about my favorite site on the internet, and really, it might have shaped how i view gaming and why i’m still into it.
    I hope you’re able to stick with it as long as you want.

  3. I’ve been to 1UP every day since the news – old habits die hard, I guess. I posted my thoughts on the article there. Basically, it’s sad to think that more focused gaming sites that veer away from the typical preview/review recycle (and more specifically, ones that cover the historical side of video games) can’t sustain a very small editorial team. I guess it’s up to the hobbyists to keep the retro gaming dream alive. To be fair, there’s a lot of great sites out there, including this one, obviously.

    • I actually don’t think that’s true. The problem is that the kind of content 1UP dealt in was antithetical to an organization the size of IGN (to say nothing of News Corp.) or even Ziff-Davis. However, a smaller company for which a venture the size of 1UP is its primary concern — an organization of maybe half a dozen people or all told — could do pretty well for itself. See: Giant Bomb. That’s not an exact comparison, but the comparison isn’t too far off. 1UP’s misfortune is that it kept landing in the laps of organizations too large to fuss with something of its size.

      This is also why publishers like Square Enix don’t localize mid-tier games that would outsell any Atlus title. Atlus can survive on 40-80K units per title. Square Enix needs million-sellers every time.

  4. Still sad to see 1UP go. Been following it for nearly a decade, and before that, EGM/OPM. Not the same as it once was, but even when understaffed, there was always plenty of good content. Here’s hoping the others land on their feet, and that you enjoy working for IGN. I don’t see IGn ever replacing 1UP as my “main” gaming site, but I’ll definitely be checking in every so often. If your new editorial position is “Etrian Odyssey blogger,” I’d make it my new home page.

  5. “those bizarre Final Fantasy-themed “towns” that dotted the early web”

    I’m glad I’m not the only ones who remembers RPG fansites that were cgi-bin based imagemaps oriented around a ROM Hack town. I’m starting to reach the age (or more likely, the number of hours logged online) where I’m doubting myself if they were real or not.

  6. Well, if that’s the case then I would love to see it because now that 1UP’s gone, there aren’t many comparable sites out there. What I want is Rock Paper Shotgun for consoles, with less news and more retro coverage (hey, I’m allowed to want things). I’m aware Polygon produces feature articles and whatnot, but that Ken Levine piece put me right off.

    • Ah, no, I’m talking about stuff that predated Fritz’s site by a few years. Abilene, Ilucia, some others I can’t remember. It was the damnedest thing the way so many people used the same “new town” metaphor for their FF fansites. I’m sure it came from a common source, but I haven’t the foggiest what that might be.

  7. Yeah, the old 16-bit RPG virtual towns! A fantastic relic of when the internet was a more creative, artisanal place, with a lot less PR—even if you had to put up with Tripod and Geocities’ pop-ups. My favorite was the campy funny of Mysidia, with various monsters lurking in the libraries, wells, etc. I remember the thrill of the mystery of unknown characters, having started with FF VI and not recognizing any of the fantastic-looking folk from V and earlier who were populating the town…

  8. My Dad was in th e Army, and used to bring MREs in from time to time. Some of them weren’t too bad! Also, you just raid them for the candy. ;)

  9. Oh man, Unofficial Squaresoft Home Page. Illucia, Eblana, and Mysidia. I am buffeted with nostalgia! Buffeted to and fro, I say…

    I actually did manage to get on Usenet back in the day, but I was hanging out more in the anime nerd sections at the time.

  10. I’m a long-time reader of your work (since Toastyfrog days!) and must say I am very glad to hear you got picked up by IGN. I don’t mean to minimize the hardship of your colleagues, but when I heard 1up met its end, I thought of you. I write for a publication and know what it is like to see colleagues and friends just vanish without warning. Please keep up the good work.

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