You might've noticed by now that I haven't been around much. I wish I were here to tell you that the reason for that has come to an end, but... well, unfortunately, I'm afraid it hasn't. So if you really want to know where I've been, then sit for a spell and let me tell you the tale of The Incredible Shrinking Community.
I first joined GameSpot in May of 2006, although it wasn't until 2007 that I actually started becoming active around GameSpot. Things started pretty small. At around that time I was pretty much accepting all comers in terms of friend requests and union invites, since I only had a few. Some of the few unions I remember I first joined were a Nintendo union, a NiGHTS union, and a Guitar Hero union. I met a lot of great people through those unions, many of whom I've sadly long since lost contact with, and it was that that really started getting me hooked on GameSpot - that really got me thinking that the community here at GameSpot was something special, something I'd seldom encountered before in the past.
It was then around February of 2008 that I got the official invitation to be a moderator at GameSpot. Given my love for the community, that was a no-brainer: of course I said "yes". After becoming a moderator, I became even more involved in the community, and became a regular poster both in OT and in the Wii forum, becoming effectively the official moderator representation for the latter forum after JordanElek stepped down from his moderator position. Around this time I joined even more unions, like the Monkeys Writing Shakespeare Union, and met even more people. In short, life was good. I really liked it here.
Over time, things slowly seemed to start to change. The first big change, obviously, was the departure of Jeff Gerstmann, which was quickly followed both by other editors and by several users at GameSpot. That was pretty early on, however, and didn't affect me that much.
As more time went on, though, some of the unions I was in began to fall apart. The Nintendo one, I think, was the first to go. The Guitar Hero union slowly saw user participation fritter away to nothing. Once NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was released, that union, too, died a slow, unheralded death. Monkeys Writing Shakespeare collapsed, too. One by one, all of the unions I used to frequent became wastelands.
But that was still all right. I was still active on the main forums, and they were great. For a while, at least. The Wii forum I especially liked, since it seemed to be a place that was more or less free of undue negativity, compared to other places around GameSpot. And OT was a great place to have quality conversations.
Slowly but surely, however, those changed as well. The Wii forum started to become less and less enjoyable to post to, and over time I found myself posting less and less in the main forum and posting more to the Off-Topic Lounge. OT, as well, seemed to be less welcoming, and I posted there almost exclusively to debate. During my very first OTcars, I tied Hungry_Bunny for Nicest User; subsequently, I wasn't even nominated for that, and only won the awards for most intelligent user and best debater. Secretly, I was a bit upset about this - I would take being known as a nice guy any day over being known as an intelligent debater. When you're on your deathbed, being an intelligent debater isn't going to make you any friends who will gather around and miss you when you're gone.
Then there was perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back: the Soapbox was removed from the front page of GameSpot. With that - without almost any fanfare at all - my one last real connection to anything resembling a community had been severed. My time here was pretty darn empty by this time, but I didn't know it at the time. It took something shocking - something that I never expected to become a fan of - to truly make me realize just how empty it had become.
OK, I know that just posting that image just lost at least some of you who had been reading up until this moment. But for those of you still with me, let me explain. Actually, before I explain, let me let Jacob Minkoff of Naughty Dog explain better than I could. This picture in particular says about what needs to be said about the show:
This isn't your '80s My Little Pony. This is what you would get if Pixar were to create an incarnation of My Little Pony. Yes, the show drives the sales of pony dolls, but it's way more than that - it's a slice of life show that is smart, witty, cute, fun, and genuinely heartwarming. It's a show with an all-female main cast that manages to be neither tackily girly nor overly sappy; its characters are genuinely interesting and endearing; and its episode plots are really fun to follow, with very positive, yet not anvilicious, messages at the end of each.
The show certainly hooked me; however, the thing that really kept me around long after its first season ended was the community around the show. In a way the community around this show is a lot like what Gabe from Penny Arcade found the Pokemon community to be when he attended a tournament - they've really been affected by it in a positive fashion. I don't mean that in the sense as though they're learning life lessons for the first time upon watching the show; rather, I think it's more just that the show is captivating enough that it's able to just make them think a bit, and realize that, you know, maybe there are other ways to conduct oneself on the internet than being a callous, cynical douche.
Whatever the reasoning or whys or wherefores behind it, I very quickly found that the fandom behind this show is one of the warmest, most welcoming, most downright positive communities I've ever seen on the internet - and, unfortunately, when I compared that against what I got here at GameSpot, well... there wasn't really much of a contest. It unfortunately highlighted for me just how empty my time here at GameSpot had become, which is why I haven't been around here much.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want to disparage anyone here on GameSpot. Individually, there are a lot of wonderful people still present here today. I won't name any of them because I don't want to leave anyone out, but, heck, if you're still reading this after all this time (in which case, bless your heart), then you're probably one of them. And that makes you awesome. Seriously. I love you folks.
I won't say that I'll never be around GameSpot again. That's closing a door that I would never want to close. However, I will say that, because of all of the above, it remains seemingly unlikely that I will be seen around here much in the foreseeable future. If you would like to stay in touch, I can be found at Equestria Forums, or, if you'd prefer to stay away from the show, PM me - I'm more than happy to give you my email address, AIM/MSN/Skype account names, or whatever else would work for you. I don't want this to be goodbye; I just want it to be so long... and, thanks for all the fish. All of you are grand chaps, the lot of you.