How can you envision an end when your purpose is to be in motion, always? Where do you stop if what you make, write and think is inextricable from the moment? We poured a bit of our heart and humor into each little vessel – a news story, an opinion, a review – paraded it for thirty minutes and then watched it fall off the page to make room for the next one. And the next. And the next. There is no end.
I just compared blog posts to heart vessels, by the way, and you should know how irritated I am by that. It's just reporting. It's just video games. It's just ... what we did.
Perhaps the perpetuity in which we did this job, telling a story of video games as it happened, and in ways you wouldn't hear from giant publishers or quiet independent developers, made us love video games more than most. Maybe this eternal machine, digesting the timeline of modern games from beginning until whenever, made us crazy. This was our life's work – I don't mean to aggrandize it, but to describe our level of investment.
Wake up. Think about games. Talk to fellow Joystiq staff about games. Discover cool games. Tell everyone about this new thing. Care. Talk to the person who made it. Think about it. Think about it some more. Eventually, find out if it's good, how it's good, why it's good. Do it right. Be professional. Take a break. See friends. Play games. Think about games. Sleep. Next day. Every day is a long day for the passionate.
This is how it was for us. We had a drive to write about games and a duty to catch every little bit of information, make it fun to read and keep it grounded. We loved the big games and coveted the small, clever ones too. We learned how to play more games, think about them in more ways and how to find the creators who didn't have a voice as big as ours. We taught ourselves how to stream games and comment on them in a whole new way. We somehow kept being missed in the 'social justice warrior' lists, despite writing about the people and mindsets behind games as regular procedure. So much was missed in the endless stream, and showing was always better than telling.
When I took over Joystiq in 2012 – after having it dominate my career since the $5-per-story Weblogs Inc. days – I found the perfect people to help me. I can never thank them enough, I can never express my gratitude in a way that wouldn't be cheapened by words in a sad blog post heart-vessel thing, and I can never remove them from my life. There is no end to our friendship, either. (Try not to read that in a creepy voice.)
Susan Arendt is a brilliant mind clad in seamless armor; the organized, realistic side to my impulsive do-everything flailing. She's funny because she's right, and she's right because she has seen it all. She once talked me out of using a Nietzsche quote as a headline and gave me just enough time to retort with "It's just a bit too niche, isn't it?"
Alexander Sliwinski is practical, savvy and ceaseless in everything he does. He understands and absorbs new forms of media on the fly, seemingly without effort and without compromising the unique ways in which he gets things done. We always seem to be in awkward, uncomfortable interviews together and I'm not sure why.
Richard Mitchell is really good at video games and just about everything else. He's not one to stumble over genres, definitions and vague outlines of what video games are supposed to be – he sees them for what they want to be and explains why in a relevant, eloquent way. He has dealt with every conceivable permutation of the embargo, and never once complained when I gave him my review text at the last minute. I think once it was literally during the last minute.
Xav de Matos works too hard, too late and on too many things, usually without anyone's insistence. His obsessive work ethic and tireless scrutiny has spread to writing, video editing, streaming, podcasting – just about everything that can be wielded as commentary on games. We will never, ever agree about Splinter Cell: Conviction.
Jessica Conditt is so exciting to work with because she's an impossible person. I cannot believe how this human can exist, being so adept at writing, reporting, interviewing, critiquing and constructing genuine stories from surprising sources. She is the best journalist writing about independent games today. HOWEVER: She is the worst at downing beers.
Sinan Kubba always finds a new way to win me over, no matter the subject matter of his writing. He is truly funny, possesses a level of insight that few have – and even fewer can convey successfully – and is one of the warmest personalities I've ever met in my professional life. He also shares my appreciation for the correctly spelled form of 'aluminium.'
Danny Cowan has spent so much time analyzing gaming's greatest gems that he is becoming one himself. Truly comprehending gaming's history and its modern failings takes more than just knowledge - it requires the kind of wisdom Danny has built up over the years and fine-tuned to the point where he can make the most obscure game sound like a crucial set of bits missing from your life. He has repeatedly warned us about Hatsune Miku.
Mike Suszek joined us as the sports guy and, indeed, he sportsed well. Lucky for us all, he is not bound by his obvious passions, offering a holistic and just view of games in ways that I sometimes fail to consider. He was angry once about the way the universe worked, and now I get to share in that feeling.
Earnest Cavalli is such a loyal and reliable writer that you almost forget the main reason for working with him: He's a clever, acerbic curmudgeon who directs his opinions like a naval cannon. The worst part is he's almost always right with his shots and so, so funny. I also don't understand, and perhaps fear, his ability to finish Pokémon games so quickly.
Anthony John Agnello and I will one day live in a mansion together, with various wings dedicated to Smilebit, Platinum Games, From Software and all the other oddball games that synchronize our excitement whenever we talk. Anthony is genetically bespoke for telling stories, whether in writing or in person, and has such a breadth of experience that you never hear the same thing from him twice. He once spent money on an empty Sega Saturn game case.
Sam Prell learns, writes, excels - quickly and humbly. I saw the future of Joystiq in him - someone who would keep us clear, honest, ethical and practical, no matter what. Most of all, he would have continued to show us the value of empathy, even in an industry known for building avatars. He keeps trying to lure us to Iowa.
Thomas Schulenberg was our second weekend warrior, equipped with an eagerness to learn and a sense of responsibility that didn't fade after work hours. Another Future Joystiq candidate, Thomas was propelled in all directions, written and filmed, by his love for games. His penchant for walking into oncoming traffic reminds me that Frogger may have been before his time.
This was Joystiq, and these are my friends. The hectic days brought us closer together and the slow ones lead to bouts of earnest weirdness. (We'll miss you, Dead Space Girl.) This is the feeling I wanted to convey. Millions of you came to get a snapshot of video games, as assembled by people you could trust, and people you could tell were having fun and gobbling up games just as fast as you did.
We wrote great reviews, we commandeered the industry discussion at times, we tried our best to treat important issues with respect. We were the scrappy website that grew up – but not too much – and started following a vision of where we wanted to be by the fancy future-year of 2016. We started leaning into more personable writing and closer interaction with our readers, more live video and a more modern approach to reviews. We were leaning heavily and, tragically, our promised support was removed at the last minute.
Where we wanted to go, though, still had no end in sight. Even now, as we disassemble our home and disperse, the elements of Joystiq will continue. The drive will not leave, the passion and desire to play and see this medium change will not dissipate or be excised from us. And I will try not to be unbalanced by grief.
There is no end, but there is a bump. Thank you so much for being with us.
Editor-in-Chief and Friend of Joystiq