It was just a few weeks after 9/11 and I’d watched all the CNN a person could handle. I was a college dropout, I’d been laid off from this little start-up called Netflix, and I was back living with my parents. Things were not looking great for my future. Then I saw a want ad for an internship at IGN.com.
I’m certain I was hired for my honesty. I told Steve Butts, then head of IGN’s PC channel, that I was a hard worker, but that I’d just entered a “laziness contest” with two other unemployed friends. Until I won, I’d have to half-ass everything. It wasn’t a joke. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold to my word — I worked hard for no pay. I lost the contest, but won a job.
Nearly a decade later, I’m leaving IGN.
I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing people who kill themselves nearly every day to ensure IGN is the best gaming site around. We don’t work late nights and weekends for the paycheck; we do it for each other. IGN editors, the truly great ones, are bonded for life. We sacrifice our free time, sleep, and sometimes our love lives, because we don’t want to let each other down. That commitment to one another, and nothing else, is what’s made IGN the #1 gaming site in the world. It’s what will keep the site strong moving forward.
I leave not because I have a better job lined up. I’m not being laid off, forced out, or pressured to move on. I’m being selfish. For nearly 10 years, I’ve given everything of myself to IGN. I’ve been happy to allow it to consume my life — to own so much of me every day and night. But lost along the way has been my passion and commitment to myself. To grow as a writer, to grow as a person, I need to leave and find something new.
That’s not to say I don’t want a job that’s long hours, hard work, and requires a major investment. Editorial is a very unique beast, a drain that’s hard to understand unless you’re in it day and night for years.
I do this for my mother. When her breast cancer metastasized into a large tumor in her brain, she became a different person. If you’ve ever known someone with a brain tumor, you understand. Their persona changes. It took months for her to pass, but she was in a living death. She became mean, childish, sullen, forgetful, angry, quiet, different.
I’d lost her long before she died. But there were hours, here and there, very rare moments when the pressure against her brain subsided and she returned to normalcy. Just a few brief instances when she became my mother again. And in those moments, she lamented a life wasted not pursuing what made her happy. She was creatively gifted. I wish I could say she was a writer, but she rarely wrote. She came to the end of her life believing she had wasted a lot of time and considerable potential.
I believe we only go around once and that nothing comes after this life. What you leave behind is what you create while you live. My mother created three children. Her legacy, then, is what the three of us produce for the world. My own legacy to date is content of the moment, useful for the briefest time and then little more than a few kilobytes of space on the Web. I want to do more before my time is done.
It’s no longer enough to talk about games, to offer critical feedback — I want to have a direct influence. I want to help shape games either from the development or publishing side. Either by utilizing my creative abilities or by doing something that frees me to create for myself at night. I have my own stories to tell and IGN taxes a very specific part of me that wears down the will to create for myself.
Video games connect us in ways other pop culture mediums cannot. It creates a common language across the world. A shared experience that’s also intensely personal. I want to help strengthen that connection. I have no set plan or destination. I want to find a new home, gain a new perspective, experience something different.
Thank you to all of the editors I’ve worked with over the past decade. You don’t get thanked enough. IGN has an amazing crew.
Thank you to all of the developers of the hundreds of games I’ve reviewed. Know that even when I disliked I game, I always respected that someone invested years of his or her life to see it made. I know it’s not always your fault when games go bad.
Thank you to the publicists, who, in all honesty, make our jobs possible. No one has to give us access to anything if she doesn’t want to. Many of you gave me more than you were supposed to and I’d like to think I treated you fairly.
Most importantly, thank you to IGN’s fans. You keep us honest, you keep us energized, you keep us standing strong. Without you, IGN would just be some dorks in an overpriced office space complaining about video games. You help remind us that games are awesome and that we’re lucky to be in this industry.
I’m sad to leave, but it’s time to go. See you in another life, brother.