mechberg / Member

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A Long Goodbye

First, let me tell you what I have to tell you: Tomorrow, Friday, July 16 will be my last day at GameSpot. I've decided to resign my post and have accepted a job elsewhere in the industry.

Whew. OK, now let me tell you what I want you to know.

I screwed over a friend to get a job at GameSpot. Well, sort of. It's not like I stole his wife or something really terrible. But getting this gig back in 2004 meant that I had to leave a job that had been graciously offered to me by a long-time friend. At the time, I was working for his start-up company and, before that, I had spent the previous couple of months struggling as that most tired of clichés: an unemployed writer.

When my friend offered me the job, he was doing me a real favor, and I had no qualms about taking the job he offered, even though it wasn't what I really wanted to be doing. For many years, I had harbored a fantasy of writing about games full-time. Earlier in my career, I had covered the industry tangentially for a couple of magazines in Atlanta and, once I moved out to the Bay Area in 1998, I wrote for small sports gaming sites, some of it paid, most of it for no money at all.

Do what you do, after all, even if it means work for free. That's what I kept telling myself.

Dotcom gigs came and went and eventually I was hired by my buddy. About a month later, I saw an ad on Craigslist (if memory serves) for a sports editor position at GameSpot. Because I had spent the majority of my free time playing, talking, and writing about sports games, I figured I'd give it a shot. So I turned my resume and application in, never realistically thinking that anything would come out of it.

Then Greg Kasavin called me.

To be completely honest: I didn't know Greg by name alone (though, in hindsight, I should have) and it took several moments for my brain to register what was happening during that phone call: Greg was calling me. Greg worked for GameSpot. GameSpot (and Greg) had seen my resume and they were interested in meeting me in person.

I remember jumping up and down a lot. And then calling my wife, while jumping up and down a lot.

Not long after the phone call and the jumping, I came to the GameSpot offices for the interview. I clearly remember sitting with former GameSpot editor Bob Colayco and talking about NCAA Football 2004 (probably my all-time favorite entry in my favorite sports videogame series) for what must have been 20 minutes or more. It occurred to me: Here I was talking about my favorite thing in the world, as part of a job interview. What a surreal and utterly enjoyable experience! At that moment, the idea of any obligation to my friend and my then-current job went out the window. This was, after all, what I wanted to do for a living for the foreseeable future.

Do what you do, after all, even if it means you have to step on a few toes. That's what I told myself.

In hindsight, any guilt I felt at the time for screwing over my friend was completely unwarranted. For my part, I've been able to spend the past six years working a dream job, traveling the world, and acting like an idiot on camera. And for his, my buddy made a ton of money from his business, subsequently retired, and has spent the past few months sailing solo around the world. So, you know, things have a way of working out.

And things have a way of changing. Thus my decision to leave GameSpot for another opportunity. I'm not ready to announce my future plans yet--I'll wait until I'm settled in at my new position first--but I will say that the new job probably won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me and my gaming preferences. I can also say that I cannot wait to get started.

There are so many things I'd like to say before I sign off but, in essence, they all boil down to gratitude. I'm thankful for GameSpot taking a chance on me back in 2004 and for allowing me an astonishing level of professional freedom in the six years since. Even in a job that is fun to begin with, I've always felt like I was getting away with murder--being allowed to cover exactly what I was passionate about, create incredible stuff from scratch, and basically make GameSpot a personal playground. My output hasn't been perfect but it's always been from the heart.

I'm thankful to every single person I've worked with here at GameSpot--past and present--all of whom have made an impression on me. Being surrounded by people who are smarter than you is an opportunity, and you're a fool if you don't take advantage of it. For the past six years, I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by the industry's best and I've learned and grown much in the process. Special thanks go to GameSpot's illustrious editor in chief Ricardo Torres, who has been a wonderful mentor and friend, and whose belief in me has been thoroughly inspiring.

Thanks also to my family, especially my wife Karen. She doesn't play games--I vividly remember the time I begged her on bent knee to play one hour's worth of World of Warcraft with me, her mouth agape at the outright, unrelenting nerdity she had agreed to--but she knows that they are at my root. As a result, she's put up with my long hours, frequent travel, and enthusiastic rambling with all the patience and love you could ever hope for.

I'd also like to thank you, the GameSpot user. You folks are the reason we get up for work early and go to bed late. You're the reason we obsess over every word in the reviews we write, and pray for inspired moments when on camera. You're the audience we get to be silly in front of, the folks we strive to entertain and enlighten, and the people we want to please the most.

The thing is, we're just alike. We are all driven by a lifelong passion for games--us GameSpot editors are just privileged enough to be able to have a wonderful platform upon which we can share that passion. That platform and your presence here are never taken for granted and is always appreciated.

Finally, I'll leave you with some advice. Over the years, I've been asked many times for thoughts on how to get into the games industry. Beyond the nuts and bolts you've probably heard before--learn how to write and write fast; learn how to spell; have some respect for grammar--the larger issue for me has always about persistence. My path to GameSpot was full of stops, starts, and unexpected turns. Whether working at companies I knew would fail, writing for free, or quitting a job that had been offered to me as a favor, I've always tried to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal. I wouldn't have had my long, strange trip to and through GameSpot any other way.

Do what you do, after all, even if nobody is listening. Because someday, they might.

Thanks and see you around.