See you next game...

By Gary Hodges
Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

A little more than a year ago - April 1, 2008 to be exact - Village Voice Media's gaming blog, Joystick Division, went live. I feel bad I absentmindedly let our first birthday slip by unnoted, so it's on Anton to make JD's second birthday doubly-celebratory. The burden falls to him because, sad to say, this will be my last post at Joystick Division.

This is a funny blog to write, because I've made it a point to always be honest with you guys about the clockwork gears that whir behind the scenes, but I don't want to drag down my final post with grumblings, lamentations and regrets. Suffice it to say: I'm leaving for a lot of the normal, everyday reasons any of you might leave a job. (No, I didn't touch the intern's boob - I mean the other normal reasons.) I'd much rather dwell on the positive, and on that subject there's much to say.

My tenure at Joystick Division has been a blast, and something I'll look back on fondly for... well, the rest of my life most likely. In the past 13 months or so I've met some great people, gotten to know a few of our readers, and even been able to mix it up a little in the name of (self?) righteousness.

In particular, I'd like to give a shout-out to our former editor, Jeff Shaw, who made getting JD up and running a genuinely exciting endeavor. In this sort of gig, there are three kinds of editors: the great ones who make you better, bad ones who make you worse, and then the Great Satan variety that make you want to quit and apply to a trade school. In the almost 4 years I've been freelancing, I've had a few of each - and Jeff was of the rare and wonderful first camp.

I'd also like to wave to Chris Ward, my former Game On (VVM's departed print game review column) alum and fellow "first generation" Joystick Divisioner. Chris' star seems to be on the rise, and it couldn't be happening to a better guy. I can honestly say he's half of what made my tenure and VVM so much fun.

I've also gotten to talk to a few people outside of JD, and I wanted to say thanks to all of them too. Talented artist David Hellman (and a great writer to boot) was generous and patient enough to sit down for an exhaustive interview with me, something that turned out to be a piece I'm especially proud of. Mitch Krpata of Insult Swordfighting was one of the first people to give me a shout out, and as I told him at the time: it's a special kind of thrill when you find out someone you read likes your stuff, too - ditto to Gus Mastrapa, someone I've admired the hell out of for years and I'm flattered to have aroused the attention of.

As for having one of the Penny Arcade guys recognize your name and compliment a review of yours to your face... well, it doesn't get better than that.


Lastly, of course I want to say thanks to all of you. Over the past year I've met a few of you, and chatted to others via e-mail. You know, writing for the public is a weird thing: it's hard to deny that initially, part of the appeal is pure ego: the thrill of seeing your own name in print, or having strangers on the Web discuss you (I still remember the first time I was described as a "National Game Reviewer" in an article, and let me tell you: my erection lasted more than 4 hours, and I did seek medical attention). Yet within a few days or weeks you realize there're lots of bylined writers out there, and most of them are just cranking out copy to fill a blank space next to a mattress ad. That's when you start to realize: if nobody's reading and nobody cares, you're just a monkey hitting a word count.

What made the difference for me, and motivated me to try hard, was you guys. You made me want to be relevant, say something worth saying, and contribute. In a variation of a good camper's philosophy: I wanted to leave the gaming press better than I found it. I don't know if I accomplished that, but I'm happy to know that at least some of you guys think I did. When I think about the pieces I did for JD that I'd consider my favorites, it's no coincidence they're usually the ones you all seemed to like best. Seriously guys: thank you.


Anton will be the point-man from here onward, and no doubt he'll do an excellent job - for a while now, he's been putting out a ton of work for little more than a slap on the back and a song, and I look forward to keeping up with JD as a reader.

What's next for me? Hard to say. Right now I'm back in school and looking for a job. While I'm done with freelancing for now, maybe I'll go back to it someday, maybe I won't. In the meantime I'm planning to show some of my art onĀ my website, and maybe someday use it to promote personal projects (like just every other writer I've ever met, my desk is buried under a smorgasbord of half-finished novels/children's books/comics/screenplays). I'm also really looking forward to - gasp! - playing games I want to play rather than whatever new title seems appropriate to review next (for example, I've just logged my 41st hour at Dragon Quest VIII).

Also coming up is the San Diego Comic-Con in July, where Chris Ward and I plan to meet face-to-face for the very first time--

(That reminds me: we - you readers and me - have unfinished business. A while back in a rant about the Wii I made a bold proclamation, backed with a bet: I claimed Nintendo would announce a HD-capable Wii by this summer, and I was so sure of this that if they didn't, I'd Youtube a video of myself singing Divinyls' "I Touch Myself" for your viewing pleasure.

Well, summer approaches. Unless Nintendo saves my bacon around E3, Chris has agreed to man the camera... so it'll be even more so a Comic-Con to remember. A promise is a promise, right? Watch this space.)

--so if any of you all are going to be there too, send me a note. I'll give you some buttons.

That is all, dudes. Look for me in the comment sections. I'll part with a thought from Plato that doesn't have anything to do with this, I just encountered it recently and kinda like it:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


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