There are few things as rewarding in work as doing it alongside the best. There's a lot of pride to be had in personal victories, but when a team wins, a team celebrates together; when a team loses, they can soften the blow for each other.
I may not have been here at USgamer long, but it took very little time for this place to feel like a natural office to me. We logged in remotely, across the continent and over the ocean, and worked as one unit to make something greater than any of us could accomplish by ourselves.
Starting on this note feels important to me, because that's what USgamer has been for me: an opportunity to work with the best and brightest in this industry. The team we had assembled here was brilliant. We punched above our weight, even when we were outstaffed 2:1.
I came into the industry from an odd angle. My primary area in college was sports, with some work on a student-produced games program on the side; freelancing in games writing was a way to keep busy and keep fresh. I eventually wound up covering esports for Compete, and then when I was back on the freelance block, I got a call from Kat Bailey. For the record, Kat is the best editor in the business, even if she's a Vikings fan.
When I joined the news department to work alongside Matt Kim, we hit the ground running. Then, when Matt left and Mat came aboard, we decided to refresh our approach to the news. We wanted to do fewer perfunctory pieces, and spend more time speaking to the things happening in games—the work done by communities and people.
This might have been a reflection of my own penchant for fighting games. Games like Street Fighter are good on their own, even in some cases great; the thing that makes them legendary is the people playing them. It's the first-to-10 between Daigo and Tokido I've never been able to stop thinking about—the way a single move can become a trademark of someone's style and personality, or yes, even a perfect parry at Evo.
The renewed focus led us to some wild places. Mat talked to cardboard Dreams creators and arcade owners struggling to cope with the pandemic. I wrote about recording artists who were taking to Minecraft, the dev team behind a cancelled My Little Pony fighting game, and with the community keeping the spirit of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 alive. They resulted in some stories that weren't just untold and unique, but hopefully helped change or expand the way we think about games, beyond the eternal cycle of upcoming releases and trade show stages.
There is no shortage to these stories, and they often keep me going through whatever new frustration has surfaced in the games industry. We had to reckon with so much this year; from the issues of racial injustice to the wave of harassment and abuse allegations that swept the industry. We're still reckoning with them.
There is still some light, though. One of my favorite things I did here was the Black Lives Matter stream, where we raised thousands to support charity. Fun fact: I pitched that on a Monday, and by Friday, we had assembled an entire crew of personalities from across the industry, thrown together graphics, and put together a professional(ish) setup that ran from my home PC. It was, and remains, a touching reminder of the good we can do in this industry when we rally together.
Everyone here worked tirelessly to add some good to this industry. Jake Green is a guides mastermind, Hirun Cryer has an incredible nose for news, and Joel Franey is actually hilarious—I've been missing our weekly catch-ups on GTA Online and Red Dead Online something fierce.
Nadia Oxford gets so much credit for her humor, all well-earned, but her writing is also incisive, leading to beautiful pieces like this Red Dead article. Caty McCarthy is an editor who makes every one of your words better; Mike Williams both taught me the joy of open-world task completion and late-night gas station hot dogs during exhausting convention weekends, and Tom Orry was my headline-checking rock during every early morning shift. I hope you one day get the PGR revival you deserve. I've already said things about Kat, Mat, and Matt, but to say a few more: I couldn't ask for better reporters to work alongside, and I couldn't ever ask for a better leader.
My hope is that as USgamer fractures and spreads to various corners of the industry, we'll be able to carry some of the magic we found here with us. We were all better for each other here, and any one of us will improve wherever we go next.
I suppose I should end this on something self-indulgent, since this is my chance to partake in this sort of writing, so how about a song? My parents were very influential on my early taste in music; their CD collection became fodder for my boombox, and some of those early influences were folk artists like Simon & Garfunkel.
"The Boxer" is one of my favorite songs of all time, and also neatly overlaps with my penchant for fighting games. In it, the pair sing of a fighter that carries the reminders "of every glove that laid him down or cut him 'til he cried out;" yet despite yearning to leave, he remains. And in Ryu's ending in Street Fighter 2, rather than attend the ceremony, he carries on to the next challenge. "The fight is everything." So yes, even after another body blow, I'll still be heading on to new challenges too. The fight is everything, and historically, it's been worth every blow.
No matter where we go next, each one of us will carry a piece of what we had here at USG with us. And hopefully, even as time rolls on and we face new challenges, we can keep bringing that little bit of light to the industry. If you've ever left a kind word, shared an article, or just taken time out of your day to read something we put our heart and soul into, you're helping do so too.
So long USG, and thanks for the opportunity to make so many memories and grow so much, even in what little time we had. It was a good ride—the best. Now it's time to put a coin up and get ready for the next match. (Also, tune in to Normandy FM!)