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Goodbye, Joystiq.

Today is (was, shall be) Joystiq’s final day, and it’s making me think about the things I take for granted.

It’s only in retrospect that I realize how much I loved that website. It was a constant. I enjoyed reading it whenever a headline caught my attention so I had to read more. It was the one of the few gaming websites in my RSS feed with regular updates about gaming. Twitter has taken up a lot of the “news” section of with regards to gaming nowadays, but Joystiq consistently showed me things I didn’t see anywhere else. Sometimes they used the same press releases that everyone else used, and sometimes they gave us wonder, wholly original content (For example). It seems like the most trivial of compliments to give, but really, they kept me up to date. I’m struggling to think of a website that fills the void they’ll leave behind I’ll like as much. (Kotaku is the standout here, of course.)

I didn’t realize how long I’d been a dedicated reader, either. I remember Cole days, Chris Grant days, when the shift to Polygon caused a change in leadership and made the site what it is today. I remember being excited when Jessica Conditt was promoted from weekend editor to full-time. I remember a lot of post titles. It’s only now, knowing they’re not going to be around anymore (at least, not in their current form, all in one place), how much I’d sort of developed an affinity for certain editors’ styles and continued to read their bylines. I know who these people are, in a small way without ever having met them, without even following them on Twitter (sorry! rectifying that now!)

I remember reading a post on Joystiq and immediately going to Amazon after seeing a daily deal. These are the sorts of minor moments that I remember when I think about Joystiq. I laughed when I saw some funny image for the header, even the ones I didn’t really get. There were some images I’d see over and over again, like the image of GameStop as a bank with a huge dollar sign they used for just about all of their stories covering the company’s financial doings. These small moments that I took for granted because, in the latter days of readership, they were a Feedly scroll of headlines. Boredom in public places lead to taking out my phone, and I’d swipe a few times, stopping to read a review or brow-raising post. Again, Joystiq was a cure for boredom, in minor moments between other, more “substantial” activities.

But those moments add up, to the point where I now realize I think I’ve been on Joystiq more than just about any other gaming website. I realize how much the site was to me now, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Joystiq should have always been there for me. And it’s sad to see them go.

It’s also terrifying, in a way. As a freelance writer, it’s heartbreaking to see people in your field need work, but in twisted, selfish way, it also means my side gig just got way harder. People find their way to the kind of talent Joystiq had. A week before the announcement, I’d pitched to Managing Editor Susan Arendt a column about indie games. Being among the most cheerful people I’ve ever worked with (I’d pitched a few articles to her during her days at the Escapist), she told me she wouldn’t be able to take the pitch in a way that left me feeling excited about the prospect of pitching to her again. It was the nicest rejection I’ve ever gotten.

Which made the announcement of their closing all the more heartbreaking. It sucks to realize things in hindsight, but it’s given me perspective about cherishing things in the moment, even when they’re something as seemingly minor as a video game blog.

Thank you, Joystiq. I miss you already.

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Video Game Excitement

Video game excitement doesn’t happen at conferences anymore, or at show floors. Conglomerate announcements were what we waited on E3 for back when, and a 24/7, 365 news cycle doesn’t accommodate that as much. For the viewers, E3 has been years of promise of “this will happen, this game will come out, and it’ll be good.” Every game is supposed to be good, and we should be excited for everything. Watch more than one E3, however, and we’re more likely than not have at least one broken promise to carry around with us. What’s big at the show, the biggest new trailer, the most dazzling conference presentation, we eventually learn, isn’t at all a predictor of what will actually excite us. So unless the announcement of a game itself is exciting, it’s harder and harder every year to muster excitement.

But I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone. For press the show is still exciting because they leave with impressions on how the games touted in trailers actually work, whether they’re fun or not. If the show weren’t exciting anymore, message boards wouldn’t have to go down during conferences. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say there wasn’t anything at the show I didn’t want to play: The Dead Rising 3 DLC, the The Witcher 3, and The sequel to Kirby Canvas Curse all come to mind as games that I want to play. But nothing screams “I can’t wait to play this” anymore, because nothing is a guaranteed. Everything becomes “that could be cool.”

I still have games I dismiss, games that I root for, and I don’t think I’ve lost a sense of wonder or I’ve become jaded or anything like that. Instead, I’ve reallocated my excitement to the surprise of finding out that something is good. Not to belabor the point, but Dota 2, a current all-time favorite, came out of nowhere for me. Most of the time, my favorite games are those that surprise me as I play them, not those that fulfill an excitement quota I set out the first time I saw it. I’m much happier when I’m surprised by A Link Between Worlds, the new DMC (which I admit I’d written off), Dishonored, or Fez when I didn’t have much of an idea what they’d end up being. That’s where my excitement comes from. Not from the umpteenth trailer shows me nothing of what the game actually is, or wants us to pretend that roller coaster of a scripted sequence counts for much outside of spectacle. I guess that last part does read as cynical.

The reason I say this is because it’s easy and fun to write off the state of video games from a lackluster showing, or something that may not leave us in a tizzy. But we should remember that shows like E3 are not representative of what video games are from a number of angles, and that every year megashows like this become less and less relevant.

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A bunch of tweets in a blog post

  1. <div class="tweet original-tweet js-stream-tweet js-actionable-tweet js-profile-popup-actionable js-original-tweet retweeted " data-expanded-footer="

    ” data-feedback-key=”stream_status_424838739417128960″ data-item-id=”424838739417128960″ data-my-retweet-id=”424912616872349696″ data-name=”RAP GAME TASWELL” data-retweet-id=”424912616872349696″ data-retweeter=”SurielVazquez” data-screen-name=”DockJaw” data-tweet-id=”424838739417128960″ data-user-id=”17434343″ data-you-block=”false” data-you-follow=”true” style=”border-bottom-color: rgb(232, 232, 232); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;”>

  • <div class="tweet original-tweet js-stream-tweet js-actionable-tweet js-profile-popup-actionable js-original-tweet my-tweet " data-expanded-footer="

    ” data-feedback-key=”stream_status_424802167145639936″ data-item-id=”424802167145639936″ data-name=”Suriel Vazquez” data-screen-name=”SurielVazquez” data-tweet-id=”424802167145639936″ data-user-id=”16974649″ data-you-block=”false” data-you-follow=”false” style=”border-bottom-color: rgb(232, 232, 232); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;”>

    Also it was supposed to be one or two tweets and I wasn’t falling asleep when I started. Bye.
  • <div class="tweet original-tweet js-stream-tweet js-actionable-tweet js-profile-popup-actionable js-original-tweet my-tweet " data-expanded-footer="

    ” data-feedback-key=”stream_status_424801936034902016″ data-item-id=”424801936034902016″ data-name=”Suriel Vazquez” data-screen-name=”SurielVazquez” data-tweet-id=”424801936034902016″ data-user-id=”16974649″ data-you-block=”false” data-you-follow=”false” style=”border-bottom-color: rgb(232, 232, 232); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;”>

    I wrote this late at night because I don’t have another real forum for it and so people don’t complain about me clogging their timelines.