2016 has been packed with surprises, and in the spirit of this tumultuous year, I'd like to offer my own unexpected twist to the pile! Namely, I am stepping down as editor-in-chief of USgamer.
I know, announcements like this are supposed to be prefaced by a soul-searching preamble to ease readers into the news, but I thought you might appreciate someone giving it to you straight for once. Besides, I've done more than my share of soul-searching over the past few months, in private. It's been an especially difficult year for me on a personal level, one full of devastating losses and enormous challenges. All of this has led me to pause, reflect on my life, and realize that perhaps this role isn't ideal for me right now.
To the gossipmongers and tongue-waggers, I apologize: There's nothing particularly juicy about my departure. I wasn't fired, or pushed away, or usurped. I'm not leaving because the site is in trouble, because I hate my managers, because I think the company is doomed, or anything salacious like that. USgamer and Gamer Network are doing well; everyone here likes me; and I like them. I'm simply heading out because, well, sometimes that's the thing to do.
It's the thing to do for me personally. 2016 has taken me into my 14th consecutive year as a full-time member of the mainstream gaming press - meaning 14 of the 18 years I've been a functioning adult member of the capitalist system have been spent embedded in the daily grind of covering video games. On one hand, I recognize how unbelievably fortunate I've been. It's difficult enough to break into the games media at all, let alone to somehow survive the business' upheavals for nearly a decade and a half. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had and thankful to everyone who has helped me get here. On the other hand, the constant, unending, daily grind of this business becomes pretty exhausting after so long, especially at the EIC level (where I've been for about five years now). Do you know the last time I took a vacation during which I didn't have to file or story or deal with some panicky work-related crisis? It was in 2013... in the week between leaving my previous job and coming to USgamer.
Stepping down, I think, is also the thing to do for USgamer. I'm proud of the site the USG team has created with me over the past few years - we set out to create a major gaming news destination with high-quality, in-depth editorial as its bedrock, and we've accomplished precisely that. Millions of people read this site every month, despite the fact that we focus on multi-thousand-word think pieces rather than clickbait headlines: Something most of the rest of the internet would tell you is impossible. We've accomplished a lot here with a small team, and a lot of hard work, and I'm incredibly proud of the team and this site – my site, in many ways. USgamer has been my life for more than three years now. There's a lot of me in here.
So yeah, I'm perfectly comfortable here, and I could certainly remain in this role for years. But would that be the right thing for me to do? Last week, I wrote about this year's excellent "B-games", and I think I might have given away the plot a bit there. I confess, I find myself somewhat alienated by the current direction of the games industry: Unconvinced by incremental hardware upgrades, unenthused by the VR boondoggle, unexcited by rigid AAA game design formulas mandated by the need to recoup hefty development investments. It's not impossible for someone to run an interesting site centered around covering those matters from an outsider or adversarial perspective, by being an aggressive cynic... but that's not really my thing. I gave up on cynicism for its own sake a long time ago, and I know too well how hard game creators work (even when they're constrained by the system) to take any delight in trashing their efforts. There's far too much negativity and hatred in our current social climate, both in games and otherwise, and I don't want to contribute to it. Nor, I think, does anyone at USG - we're all good people, here.
It is therefore my great pleasure and honor to hand over the reins for USgamer to one of those good people. Kat Bailey will be taking over for me, putting on the boss' hat as she steps up to become editor-in-chief for the site. I've been working with Kat in various capacities for, good grief, almost a decade now? So I've had a front-row seat to witness her growth as a writer, as an editor, and as a leader. Over the past year in particular, Kat has demonstrated an endless well of creative inspiration for feature ideas, a canny sense for what people will want to read, and a sincere determination to make USgamer a success. All of that comes in addition to her other great qualities: Her unique combination of interests, her experiences both as a member of the games press and on The Other Side in development, and her distinct social perspective. I think the games press has seen no end of straight, white, middle-aged dudes like me as EICs; people who don't fit that description, like Kat, rarely have the opportunity to call the shots. I'm eager to see what USgamer becomes with her at the helm by bringing such radically different experiences and perspectives to the table.
As for myself, I guess this is where I'm supposed to announce that I'm moving over to another site or signing on with a big publisher or something, but actually I don't really have any firm plans. I'm flying without a net at the moment, which is vaguely terrifying, but also liberating. For now, I'd like to explore some ideas that I haven't had the time or freedom to do while working as a full-time journalist. I'll definitely be trying my hand at game localization, something that's interested me for a decade, to see if I'm any good at that. I had considered finally creating the game I've been wanting to design for as long as I can remember, but Axiom Verge and a host of other indie metroidvania games make it pretty moot. Alas! I snoozed, I losed.
So instead, I'd like to focus on something far fewer people are doing: Attempt to help properly document the history of video games. I've been a game history dilettante for my entire career in the press, but now I'd like to see what I can accomplish by putting my full effort into it. Retronauts and Game Boy World have been fun and fulfilling weekend projects, and my hope is they can become even better if I can bring them off the sidelines and into the limelight. I hope you'll check in from time to time to see how that's going.
Don't think you've seen the last of me here at USgamer, though. You don't get off that easy! I'll be sticking around as a full-timer until the end of January to help ensure a peaceful transition of power, as the saying goes, and after that I'll still be contributing regularly to the site with a weekly column (and probably some other writing, too, if they want it). Anyway, we're all interconnected here on the Internet. You can follow me on Twitter - @gamespite - for a daily supply of lame puns and (hopefully decidedly less lame) musings on games, media, and occasionally even social and political matters.
And of course I'll still be commenting here. Even though the site's social tools begin and end with article comments, USgamer has built itself into one of the finest communities I've ever had the pleasure of participating in. Outside of the occasional drive-by troll, everyone always has thoughtful, intelligent remarks to share on our writing... and most shockingly of all, you're always polite even in disagreement. Writing for you, and discussing our work afterwards with you, has always been one of the real pleasures of this job, and I'll remain an active part of the USgamer community even after I'm no longer part of the full-time USgamer team.
So please give your full support to Kat and her team - Jaz, Nadia, Mike, Jeremy (who no doubt will share my relief at no longer having to wonder which Jeremy is being addressed at any given moment), and whoever else Kat brings on board. They're a great team capable of creating great writing, and they're already hard at work on reinventing the site for 2017. I'll let Kat speak to her intentions on her own time. For now, I can honestly say I've enjoyed working with them (and everyone else who has passed through the USgamer team) over the past few years; they're simply the best. I'm looking forward to enjoying their work as a reader, which should be a lot more chill than reading it as the person responsible for it all... and I hope to see you all in the comments section. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, both for USgamer in general as well as for me and the vision I've brought to the site. I'll see you around, OK?
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