Unsurprisingly, the GameSpot staff has been doing a lot of talking over the past 72 hours--with each other, with friends, with family--and there has definitely been a lot to be said, a lot to be sorted. I'm not going to burden you with the bulk of it here, because a lot of it is private and a lot of it you've probably heard already, but mostly I've grown weary of typing out the same conversation with different people. I will tell you some things that I haven't had a chance to get down in writing yet. Now seems as good a time as any.
Jeff Gerstmann has been a significant figure in both my personal and professional life for a long, long time. I first met him around 1997 though an odd confluence of technology, music, and personal determination. He was in a bizarre local rap-ska band that, at 17, I found utterly fascinating, and he seemed funny as hell. By my recollection, we were fairly fast friends, though I was also kind of pushy about it. As an aside, this was also how I first met review editor Alex Navarro, though at the time he was a twitchy little drummer who, for the first few years that I knew him, was never seen without his black knit cap.
Our ridiculous, protracted rap project the Suburban All-Stars was one of the more prominent early fruits of my friendship with Jeff. We arguably spent more time making each other laugh really, really hard than we did making music, though Jeff mastered the walking-and-chewing-gum dynamic and did both at once with his following music project, Midnight Brown, whose catalog stands as both some of my favorite music ever written, as well as one of the most well-produced series of inside jokes ever. I always admired Jeff's capacity for cutting wit and really imaginative vulgarity, and being around him makes you want to be funnier and more vulgar.
My friendship with Jeff was one of the main reasons I got a part-time job with GameSpot in the spring of 2000, handling support email remotely throughout the week while toiling idly at a local JC. I was only in the office one day a week, and while catching glimpses of what it took to write about games for a living, I knew I wanted to be there all the time. Jeff has literally been there ever since, if not as my direct supervisor, than as a close co-worker and a continued friend. It's been almost 8 years since I started working at GameSpot, and Jeff was there for nearly all of my fondest and most memorable experiences on the job. He's covered my ass through rough patches and helped me become a writer I never thought I'd be, or even wanted to be. Simply put, I would not be in the video game business at all were it not for Jeff Gerstmann, and I am loathe to imagine what I might be doing with my life right now without the focus I've earned from having this ridiculous job. Long after the considerable novelty of "I write about games for a living!" wore off, it was my continued professional interaction with Jeff that has kept this job fun.
But now, Jeff's gone, and I'm not afraid to say that it absolutely breaks my heart. I felt the departure of Rich Gallup from the site earlier this year in my bones, but this goes deeper. Jeff was a rare constant, and this marks the end of an era for both GameSpot and myself, a fact that doesn't seem to be getting any less upsetting for me. Still, one thing about a situation like this is that it encourages you to break out lots of trite sentiment and soft, obvious analogies--things that embarrassingly manage to resonate sincerely when one is in crisis--and there is one chestnut I've used on more than one occassion over the past 72 hours that I would like to share:
The ball is still in motion. This isn't the end for Jeff Gerstmann, this isn't the end for GameSpot, and this isn't the end for me.