The New Year always brings about talk of change. Some may hate that concept, others welcome it, and still more believe that it means absolutely nothing. I personally wanted to make 2009 a year of amazing changes, so two weeks ago I sat down to write out a few goals for myself. Among the more common desires of â€œwanting to hit the gym moreâ€ and â€œseeing my loved ones more oftenâ€ were a few more lofty. Chief among them: make strides to get a job that Iâ€™m really interested in. As you might have guessed, in my case, that means breaking into the game industry.
I just finished reading Chris Kohler (of wired.comâ€™s GameLife blog)â€™s book, Power Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life. In it, he details not only the importance of the Japanese video game industry, but gives a peek into the events that shaped his personal life, from his first gaming memories up through his one-on-one interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. In the end, he shares his realization that video games can be a bridge across the cultural divide, a door that, once opened, can lead to a deeply held sense of respect for another country. For me, Kohlerâ€™s story is both biographical and fictional â€“ it represents everything that led me to the land of the rising sun as well as everything I still want to accomplish. Itâ€™s inspiring to say the least.
But my other main inspiration for wanting to take the scary leap into the video game industry stemmed from the incredible group of talent at 1up.com. Although I had always read Electronic Gaming Monthly as I was growing up, it wasnâ€™t until my senior year of college that my good friends brought to my attention how much raw talent existed there. In the year and a half since my graduation, the staff at 1up and EGM literally became the best friends Iâ€™ve never had the pleasure to meet.
Their podcasts were my life-line through my first hellish year of work, the 1up show was my new Saturday morning entertainment, and EGM became the first magazine that I ever read cover to cover, each and every month. I quickly came to admire the knowledge and insight from the more experienced staff (Shoe, Crispin, Shane, Garnett, Mielke, T-frog, Jeff Green), the humor of the younger staff (Anthony Gallegos, Shawn Elliot, Nick Suttner , Phillip Kollar, and many more) and the unmatched passion for the industry that existed within them all. I had never, in my entire life, seen a more cohesive group of colleagues, gamers, or friends.
I owe them more than almost anyone I know: they not only inspired our own podcast and helped me understand the game industry in much deeper ways, but brought me to the realization that I need to be a part of the industry that they themselves helped make so special. I dreamed of one day being able to stand next to them and call them my fellow gamers, colleagues, and most importantly, friends.
I was stunned when I received the text from Justin last night, and quickly checked every gaming news site, blog and twitter that had any information about how UGO.com could make one of the most upsetting decisions I could possibly imagine. Everything that made 1up so amazing is now practically gone.
I feel awful for those who were let go yesterdayâ€¦and even worse for those still around.
But what hurts more than knowing that my Ipod will have 4 less podcasts next week, that thereâ€™ll be no new 1up Show to download to my ps3, or that thereâ€™s practically no American representation left in the gaming magazine section of my local Barnes & Noble, is the fact that an outsider has once again failed to understand what, and more importantly who makes our entertainment medium so important, unique and wonderful.
If youâ€™ve ever found yourself humming â€œHey, I donâ€™t want to go to work todayâ€, smiled at a Quarterman rumor, or needed your weekend â€œconfirmedâ€, you know exactly what Iâ€™m talking about.
To everyone at 1up: I owe all of you my most sincere gratitude. Youâ€™ve all been a more important part of my life and the lives of those around me than youâ€™ll ever know. Iâ€™m more than confident that you will all land on your feet, and I canâ€™t wait to hear more from you.
Have pity on the rest of us, who will no longer have the honor of being represented by one of the most gifted, dedicated and passionate group of gamers our industry has ever known.