Watching Gamnesia go live this past weekend certainly has been a rush for me, but not for the same reasons as the rest of our staff. 2013 marks the tenth year since I first started in gaming journalism, though it hasn’t been an unbroken run. As anybody who keeps track of the behind-the-scenes happenings could tell you, I’ve been largely MIA from Zelda Informer for several years now. Real-world commitments such as my freelance web development business and my constant road-tripping schedule has kept me away from, and largely disinterested in, the video game industry for quite some time. It’s only recently that I came back to ZI, mostly at the urging of several close friends and other staffers, to focus on fixing many of the technical and management problems that Zelda Informer has become somewhat infamous for. My latest order of business is to roll Gamnesia out the door, but in doing so, it has triggered a lot of fond memories to my early days in this industry. So, being mired in the development of this site the past month has been a largely nostalgic moment.
One name that’s come up a lot lately is VGRC, which most people from Zelda Informer know as “that gaming site they tried to launch that died a month later.” It has been all over the comments every time the topic of us launching a new project comes up. However, what most people don’t really know is VGRC was around long before Zelda Informer even existed, and even longer before I handed the public face of our operations off to Nathan. VGRC was my baby, and I kept it running strong (with help from many of the writers that would initially help me start ZI years later) from 2003 through the end of 2008, when all our focus eventually went towards Zelda Informer instead. There were a few stillborn revivals of VGRC in recent years, but I consider 2003-2008 the true “run” of what that place was.
The biggest thing that got to me during development of Gamnesia was the developmental parallels to VGRC. There were a lot of things I wanted to do with that project back then that I lacked the technical skill to pull off, and now, almost ten years after I wrote my first game review, I’m staring at the realization of what we wanted to create years ago. What you see now is only a start: I have many more parts of this site sitting hidden away, waiting to be finished, bug-tested, and rolled out over the next couple months.
I turn 25 in a couple weeks (you can mail birthday cards to: PO Box 873429, Wasilla, AK, 99687 -ED) and it’s surreal looking back at the VGRC project now. We were a bunch of kids, either still in or just fresh out of high school, and that’s where I learned my chops: How to write, business management, how to deal with publishers, and social network promotion. But more importantly, it’s where I got my start in web development, a field I now have a career in. It’s where I first learned the basics of PHP. We had an install of a long-defunct CMS called “Vortex Portal,” which we had modified heavily for our own uses. It’s also where I got my first taste with web hosting, and now I manage a battery of dedicated web servers for myself, ZI, and clients. And through it all, I met a lot of people that became instrumental characters in the two-year road trip I took just recently. VGRC was a huge part of my life back then, and I’m a better person for it now, I feel.
It’s one of those situations where you can’t quite outrun your past. I’ve spent the past several years trying to escape from this industry, but once you’re in that deep, you get dragged back in eventually. Hunter S. Thompson once called journalism “a low trade, and a habit worse than heroin,” and gaming journalism is no exception. We’re an industry full of nerdy misfits, but there’s also a sense of community, and bonds like that tend to die hard. Especially when you’re randomly cruising around the country, and those very same people you grew up with are inviting you over to party and crash on their couch when they hear you happen to be passing through their state. So now, for better or for worse, I am back in the game.
To what extent I’m back, I’m not sure of yet. I’m still woefully out of touch with much of the current state of the gaming industry, but you’ll still probably see me popping up on the Columnist and Retro channels in the near future. At the very least, when you see a new feature like user-submitted content roll out, you’ll know that’s my handiwork, bringing Zelda Informer full circle with the goal of the project that birthed it in the first place: To put together the best damn gaming site on the web. Laissez les bons temps rouler!