I suck at good-byes, so I'll just lay this out fast and then dress it up some: Today is my last day at GameSpot. Crazy, I know. This place has been home for 12 years. But all good things come to an end, and this has most definitely been a good thing for me. Before I sign off, I've got a lot to cover, so hopefully you will indulge me on a zigzagging trip down memory lane with a nerd detour or two.
First nerd detour: blog title.
As a Star Trek nerd, I felt compelled to steal the title of the final episode of Deep Space Nine, the absolute best Trek there has ever been. I loved what that show turned into, and it was awesome to see a person of color as a captain. After doing some research on the quote that inspired the finale's title (all good writers who steal do their homework), I found the original line from Pericles, a respected Greek statesman, that went like this:
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."
And that really hit home for me as I look back on my time at GameSpot. In my case, I'm not leaving behind any stone monuments--just some data on the Internet--but the sentiment is the same. I hope that my time here amounts to more than just the content I produced and winds up being more about what I've been able to contribute to GameSpot, the industry, and the people I've worked with. First and foremost is my team here at GameSpot. Over the years I've been able to put together the most diverse team of individuals you'll find anywhere to cover games. I may be a little biased, but to my mind, you won't find a smarter bunch of great writers anywhere else.
Beyond my team, there's the content that GameSpot has produced over the years, which is going to require some looking back, something I rarely do. I've always had a weird hang-up about being self-indulgent, but if not now, then when? My time at GameSpot has been rewarding in too many ways to count because I got to come here and play with an amazing group of phenomenally talented people. And man, we had a blast. After this much time I could lay out a scroll of great memories, but I'll be a little selective and hit the stuff that has left a lasting impression. Sorry if it's list-y, but this is the Internet, and everyone loves lists, right?
On the Spot: Back in 2004, GameSpot's founder, Vince Broady, asked Ryan Mac Donald and me to put together a weekly live show. While it may not sound like much to ask now, back then, when no one was doing anything like that on the Internet, it was an ambitious request. Since Mac and I didn't know any better, we just did it, kicking off with a live show from EA's Tiburon Studios.It was totally insane to pull off at the time, but it laid the groundwork for the live content that became core to what we've done better than anyone else.
E3: We have always attacked this show with a passion that has resulted in some of the coolest stuff we've ever done. 2005 was a personal highlight, because GameSpot basically jacked everyone and scored the exclusive on Sony's E3 press conference. I should note that it was the first and last time anybody got an exclusive of that nature--sorry everybody! Besides press conferences, E3 quickly became about our live stage shows. Over the years we've debuted the best and the brightest from the show, with some killer firsts like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter x Tekken, Twisted Metal, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, the PlayStation Vita, and the Wii U. The show started as 15-minute segments at the top of every hour during E3 in 2002 and grew to run every hour the show was open and, most recently, into the evening. My favorite stage show is probably 2007, E3's modest year, when we rented out a restaurant on the Santa Monica pier and had people head over from Barker Hangar to be on our show. We closed out with Alex Rigopulos and the Harmonix posse going nuts with the original Rock Band. My overall favorite E3 is 2006 for two key reasons. First is the picture below:
That's Eiji Aonuma, Vince Broady, me (with the beginnings of my enormous hair, which almost blocks out Brad), Bill Trinen, and Ryan Mac Donald posing together after the boys came by to do a demo of Twilight Princess live on our stage show, which, given how protective Nintendo is, was like having a sasquatch ride a unicorn onto our stage. We also had Reggie on for a chat with the Game Boy Micro (remember that thing?), which made the show extra awesome.
Second is that I got the chance to hang out a bit with Vince, which, considering how high up he was at the company, was a big deal since we didn't get a chance to see him as often. I took him around a bit on the show floor and got him into one of Nintendo's after-hours presentations, which was awesome since I got to see him geek out like the rest of us, because, in his heart, Vince loved games just as much as we did.
Events: With everything we learned from On the Spot and our E3 stage show, we started flexing our muscles at events to try to give the folks at home, who couldn't be at game launches or other special events, a taste of the action. I remember going to Japan in 2004 with Ryan and Jeff for the Japanese PSP launch (it was also the trip where Mac and I snuck off to see Godzilla: Final Wars in a Toho-run Japanese theater, which was the best thing ever). Then there was 2006, an insane year where we got our exclusive Tokyo Game Show and X06 event coverage on Xbox Live. (That was the trip where Brian Ekberg and I flew from Tokyo to SFO, stayed in the airport after customs, and then caught a flight to Barcelona. It was also the trip where Vinny broke his finger between Japan and Spain o_0). As if that weren't crazy enough, in November of that year we went to New York and did two back-to-back webcasts for the PlayStation 3 and Wii launches. (Favorite memory there is Mac asking Charlie Murphy to do a shout-out for the site and things going slightly off the rails: go to the 1:38 mark.) In 2007 we hit PAX and did a live show where Mac hosted a demo of Haze and the developer from Free Radical parsed himself a brand-new swearword live on the air. Most recently we've broken ground at San Diego Comic-Con, where we did our stage show, had Colin and our backpack camera roaming the floor, and brought you uncut panels from the convention. This year we had fun with our launch coverage of the 3DS in Japan--Shaun, Takeshi, and I went to Akihabara and went live from Yodobashi Camera and our hotel room to show off Nintendo's new handheld. All that stuff is a challenge to be sure, but we've all loved doing it for you guys.
Tokyo Game Show: While this could technically fall in with the rest of our event coverage, I had to do a special call-out for this show because it's probably dearest to me as a game geek. I grew up in the era when Japanese games were the heart of gaming, and I've always had a soft spot for them. The first chance to go to TGS well over a decade ago was mind-blowing for me, but the chance to meet the developers who made the games that had a profound impact on my gaming life is really indescribable. Over the years I've gotten to know a lot of the guys from Sega, Capcom, Tecmo, Treasure, Nintendo, Sony, and a host of other developers, and it has been amazing and humbling. To top all that, I've come to have a very deep affection for Japan. It was the first place I'd ever gone to overseas, and it surpassed my lofty expectations. So when we've covered TGS we've always tried to showcase how awesome the show and country are by having fun. My best memories there are tied to and unsurprisingly revolve around cosplay, from Brian Ekberg's infamous "Stitch" run through the show to Shaun's "Luigi-V" shenanigans.
Spotlighting the Industry: At heart, I've always had an artistic/creative streak that has led me to be fascinated by the creative process and the people who make games. I've always believed that games are an art form like movies, television, and music, and over the years I've made it my mission to showcase them in one way or another. Big picture, there's Behind the Games, a spotlight on developers that shows a different side to these talented individuals. It has done me proud to see Sophia be inspired by BTG and dive into all aspects of music and audio in Sound Byte. Video Game History Month is another little passion project I was happy to see come to life to spotlight the fantastic and diverse history of our industry. On the smaller front, there are things that a site like GameSpot can do to highlight games or developers that we feel you should be keeping an eye on. One of my happiest memories in that respect was in 2004 when we helped get the word out on a fledgling developer called The Behemoth and its little game called Alien Hominid. The guys wound up doing pretty OK for themselves, as talented people do, and it has been fantastic to see them come so far. Then there's the spotlight we put on games like Demon's Souls, Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Catherine, to name just a few. We've always felt it's our responsibility as one of the big players in the industry to try to bring you a balanced diet of the blockbusters and the smaller, interesting stuff.
And that's just some of what I'm proud of here at GameSpot. I could go on a lot longer, but I've got some people to thank. I've been very blessed to have encountered some fantastic mentors over the years, and even though you guys probably don't know many of them, they deserve some public thanks.
Michael Brown: The big boss at CNET Gamecenter, where I had my first editorial job in the biz. He taught me the importance of setting the tone for your team.
John Marrin: My boss on the console section at Gamecenter, who taught me the importance of balancing being a game dork and a professional.
William Harms: My second boss at Gamecenter, who taught me the value of humor, zombies, and "getting it done."
Vince Broady: GameSpot's founder and the smartest man I've ever met in this business. He taught me the importance of protecting a brand, business manners, how to focus my drive and ambition, how to build a team, and, most importantly, how to take care of them.
Suzie Reider: Vince's successor, who taught me about grace under pressure and sticking to my guns when things get crazy.
Greg Brannan: Suzie's successor, a brilliant man who taught me about programming, developing content, and engaging an audience.
Henk Van Niekerk: A savvy guy who taught me about engaging and serving your community.
Stephen Colvin: A ballsy dude who reminded me about the importance of being an editor-in-chief.
Steve Snyder: A veteran business guy who taught me new things about business, communication, and managing a team.
Besides the array of bosses I've had, I have to give special thanks to a handful of people I've worked with in the trenches:
Joe Fielder: Thanks for showing me the importance of leading by example and, most importantly, being authentic to who you are while doing it.
Jeff Gerstmann: Thanks for showing me the importance of balancing being a total goofball with knowing your s*** and having fun. I'm glad you're kicking ass and taking names.
Greg Kasavin: Thanks for driving home the GameSpot work ethic that makes anyone who has worked here special and for reminding me that if you're not passionate about what you're doing, it ain't worth doing.
Andrew Park: Thanks for showing me the importance of organization, thinking things through, and always having some kind of solution in your back pocket.
Brian Ekberg: Thanks for showing me new ways to be a rock in hard times and how to be fearless and for introducing me to Trailer Park Boys.
Justin Calvert: Thanks for showing me how to just get on with it when things are crazy, the importance of international coordination, and introducing me to Phoenix Nights.
And last but not least...
Ryan MacDonald. Thank you for everything. You taught me how to be gregarious, positive, resourceful, and a better person all around. We saw the world together, we did things no one else even thought of in our time together, and, a few times, we broke the Internet together. I seriously can't think of anyone else I would have rather spent 12-plus years of my life with. You are my hero. Thank you for being my coworker and my friend and for all the time.
Now, while you'd think that's damn near everybody I could thank, I've still got more gratitude to dole out. If you've been coming to GameSpot, you definitely know the public faces here--myself, the editors, and the video and community teams--but we're not all that GameSpot is. While it's true our content makes up a lot of the site you see, there are dozens of other people here in the building and across the globe who have made GameSpot what it is. So I want to thank the US, Australian, UK, and Asian GameSpot teams--including editorial, copyedit, data, tech, product, design, marketing, events, sales, and PR--for their time, effort, and passion in making this whole thing go. Even more importantly, I want to thank the boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, children, and, hell, pets of everyone who works on GameSpot. The brand couldn't have lasted this long without scores of passionate people pouring their blood, sweat, tears, and time into it. Unfortunately, that has sometimes led to missed dates, strained relations, and the assorted byproducts that come with passion and sacrifice. So my profound thanks to everyone for sharing their time and loved ones to make this brand kick ass.
I couldn't think about doing any kind of good-bye without taking a nice chunk of space to thank my staff along with the countless folks I've worked with along the way who are no longer here at GameSpot. I couldn't have asked for a better, more-supportive kickass group of friends, coworkers, and colleagues to have made this 12-year journey with. You have been and continue to be brilliant and inspiring. You've helped shape me into a better editor and human being. I only hope that you realize how grateful I've always been for your tireless work and encouragement.
I could trot out the old cliche that I love you guys more than you know, but I hope that after all these years, while I certainly may not have said it enough, you guys know how much you have meant and will always mean to me. The experiences we've shared, the tough times, the demanding deadlines, and the seemingly impossible situations during my tenure, here and abroad, are unique to just a tiny handful of people on this planet. We have been, and always will be, a family. No matter where we go, no matter what we end up doing in the years to come, know that there is that handful of people out there who understand and that I will always have your back in the good and hard times.
I want to thank the industry: developers, publishers, PR, and all the other pieces of this crazy business we work in. It's mind-blowing to think it has been this long, and it's even crazier to think I've seen so many people grow up. I can honestly say I have cartridges older than some of you fetuses! But in the end, it has been a blast to work with everyone (well, most everyone. What? I'm not going to be blunt?), and I thank you all for the support and kindness that has come my way over the years. We've all bonded in the uniquely crazy rush of events, broken embargoes, demos, leaks, missent emails, and all the other shenanigans that have made up our work lives together. I will work with you all again soon, but until then, hugs (and stabs) to you all. It has been a blast.
Finally, and thanks for sticking with this, I want to thank the readers of the site. It has been an honor and a privilege to be gifted with the time you've spent on the site, watching videos, commenting on articles, posting in the forums, or making horrible memes of us playing motion-control games. You kept us honest, and you kept us motivated. On a special side note, I want to give a shout to the folks of color in the audience who have reached out to me in person or via PMs and email saying how excited and inspired they've been to see a Mexican EIC at a video game website. Well, it has been exciting to be that special kind of unicorn in the industry, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity. It wasn't easy getting here, and once I did, it was a ton of hard, but enormously rewarding, work. I also hope I'm not the last one, so y'all reading this, get your butts through college, play games, know your stuff, and come pick up the torch! I did this, and so can you, so step to it.
And there you go...an epic sign-off. But hey, it has been 12 years since I first stepped foot into this office, so sue me.
For those wondering what I might tackle next, my first priority is...not a damn thing. I've worked 12 years straight (including most holidays! Thanks, games industry, for those pre- and post-Christmas releases!), so I think I've earned myself some time off. I've got so many friends and family I want to spend time with, and along the way I've got real life to live for a bit.
But I'm not done with games by a long shot. I'm much too passionate about this medium to be done with it. There are so many stories yet to be told and things to be done in games that I'm intent on telling and doing. In the meantime, I'll be jotting down some of my thoughts and posting pics on this Tumblr. A word of warning, though--this blog ain't getting touched for at least a month or so. I'm going to spend some time catching up on games, hibernating (8 hours of sleep?! Impossible!), and maybe even going to Disneyland.
All the best,