When I started in games press five years ago, I wanted to be a capital-c Critic. Back then I was just a lowly intern who doubled as a barista and part-time freelancer, yet I wanted my opinions to be the law of the land. I wanted to be seen as cool and important. A tastemaker. A curator. I was a self-deprecating loser who had an ego before I had a right to have one. I soon learned that my strengths aren't in criticism. I'm not an academic, and my insights aren't that deep. So I fell, by accident, into editing and feature writing: diving deep into research, working with freelancers, and interviewing creative people from across the world.
Today is my last day at USG, thanks to the same reasoning you've heard across other companies and their downsizing: laid off "because of COVID-19." It's fitting, considering the last publication I was at also crumbled with layoffs. It's the inevitable fate of all media, I suppose. So today I sadly join my colleagues Hirun Cryer, who was laid off two weeks ago, and Joel Franey and Jake Green, who have been reassigned to other corners of Gamer Network, in bidding the loveliest of gaming publications adieu.
I've felt a range of emotions over my career. Enthusiastic, tired, and everything in-between. Have the long hours and low pay ever been worth it? Now that it's come to an end, I just feel grateful. Grateful for Kill Screen taking a chance on me five years ago; grateful for all the editors across other publications who either sought me out directly, or fielded my cold pitches anyway. Grateful for Kat Bailey, USG's own Editor-in-Chief, who reached out to me just as Kill Screen was collapsing as a media entity with a job opportunity. She descended like an angel from the sky, in a way, and I took the job. I'm grateful to my readers and podcast listeners. Mostly, I'm grateful for managing to have even the opportunity to have a career in this job-starved corner of journalism at all.
Fast forward to over three-and-a-half years after Kat first reached out, and here I am. I'm proud of what Kat, Nadia Oxford, Mike Williams, (Traitor) Matt Kim, Mat Olson, Eric Van Allen, Hirun, Jake, Tom Orry, and Joel accomplished here over the years in revitalizing USG.
I hope you enjoyed reading my work. Like recently, when I caught up with the original designers behind one of my favorite games of all-time, Jet Set Radio, for the game's 20th anniversary. Or when I found out how the hosts of Chapo Trap House were roped into voice acting for Disco Elysium. Or the time I interviewed most of the original actors and martial artists behind the first Mortal Kombat. I hope you loved the fresh freelance voices we hosted on the site via their excellent features, op-eds, and reviews. I hope my time here wasn't a complete waste.
Personally, I feel like I aged a decade during my time at USG. I learned how to be a manager, an editor, and hopefully, a good comrade. Even when I wasn't happy writing about the Hot New Game of the Week, I was always happy to be doing it with this team, with a site that I loved so dearly. Even in the hardest of times (like this entire hell year), that's what kept me going.
Our team may have been fully remote, but it never felt like it. This crew will be friends of mine for life, I reckon. I feel tremendously lucky to have had a job where I could talk about video games all day—as tiring as it could sometimes be. But like all things that are too good to be true, it couldn't last forever.
In my time, I did things I never thought I would get to do. I reviewed Kingdom Hearts 3, a game that would make kid-me freak out with excitement. I interviewed Amy Hennig, Suda51, and countless other fascinating people. My favorite games I covered during my time here remain Kentucky Route Zero, Detention, The Witcher 3, Disco Elysium, Gravity Rush 2, Splatoon 2, and Nier: Automata. And here I am now, like Harry at the end of Disco Elysium, burned out but hopeful as I reach the end of the road. This is my phasmid.
Looking at the state of media, with a freelance flock of new writers and editors who are even more diverse than when I was coming up five years ago, gives me hope for the future of this industry. Seeing worker-owned sites like Defector rise up from the ashes of Deadspin gives me hope too. While you won't see me lingering around traditional media anymore, I'll be cheering journalism on from the sidelines, as a proud reader. Now that this is all done, I'm ready to see what's next in store for me. I leave with my only regret being that I didn't get to review the Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne remake, dammit.
I'll leave you with something Regis, Geralt of Rivia's vampire buddy, tells Geralt at the end of The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion. "We have witnessed-and in fact, on several occasions incited-many great and weighty events. After all that toil, I believe we deserve a bit of a rest."
"That we do," answers Geralt. And that we do. It sure has been a time, y'all. Peace.