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June 13, 2011

Why I’m Leaving IGN

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Written by: Hilary Goldstein
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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.


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  1. Oliver

    The Lost reference at the end really finishes this of nicely. I <3 you Hil and always will.

  2. Great letter, Hil.

    Some jobs are green-eyed monsters trying to keep people for themselves. I made the same choice a few years ago, quitting a consulting career to become a full-time writer. I have been starving, since, not regretting my decision–not then, not now, not ever.

    *raises glass of Prosecco* Here’s to you, and all the dreamers that make their dreams come true!


  3. Avery

    You were always my favorite, Hil.

  4. Dane

    Hil, I got into TRL a couple of years late and I definitely missed out. You, Nate Dog (ding from the Jeff Bell), Eric, and crew got me through a lot of long nights at work (aside from Clayman’s laugh…good lord that was rough). You’ve got a great sense of humor, and seem to make chemistry with whoever you’re working witb. I still listen to old trl’s to lol at your wit.

    In closing…”oh werr? My burr.!”

  5. Mosi

    First and foremost, sorry about your lost, Hil. I’ve been an IGN fan since ’98. Always enjoyed your articles and podcast appearances. Sad to see ya leave. Glad you’re moving on to greener pastures though. Take care!

  6. Gazi

    You will be missed,Hil.Tremendously.
    Good luck to you for all your future endeavors, and I hope I get to meet you someday.
    God,my eyes are getting misty.

  7. Cecil (polobear1975)


    Man, as an older gamer (35) and someone who still has his first copy of Nintendo Power w/ Mario and Wart on the cover, I gotta say I’m proud of you for taking the motion-controlled bull by the Unreal engine-rendered horns and chosing to make a lasting mark in this world. That’s some real grown-man stuff right there. You’re making a very honorable move and I’m inspired by that…

    …best of luck and all of God’s blessings to you.

  8. Kevin

    You Sir. will be missed having been reading IGN for at least eight years, and listing to the pod casts for the last three or more. I always loved your witty one liners and funny stories. I hope you find what you are looking for and best wishes.


  9. Hey Hil,

    I was surprised when I listened to Gamescoop today and heard you had left IGN. I’m sad to hear you’re leaving, as I’ve enjoyed your writing and your opinions on podcasts for quite sometime. I can still remember my first Gamescoops with you making Micah rub his beard on the mic.

    I just wanted to say that I can relate to your reasons for leaving rather personally. My grandfather had a brain tumor in the last few months of his life and it robbed him of all that made him the man we knew. I’m sorry you had to experience that same situation.

    I also have a job that consumes the majority of my time and leaves me drained and uninterested in creating for myself. Fortunately, my job is a creative one (I color comics for DC and Marvel), but I only create for others. I know there are creative ideas inside of me that I’m neglecting, but at the end of the day I’m too tired to develop them.

    Anyhow, you’re setting a great example that I hope to follow one day (as soon as I get my damn art school loans paid off!).

    Thanks for all the laughs, and setting an inspiring example, and I wish you the best of luck!


  10. Destiny

    Rupert Murdoch hated Three Red Lights so bad they had to slowly pick you all off!

  11. Lloyd

    Love you Hill, all the very best.

  12. Sanzee

    Hey GOOD LUCK Hil! You made IGN awesome while you were there! Make sure you come back and visit every now and then (maybe be on Game Scoop or Podcast Unlocked). I hope all works out well for you, Chief.


  13. Kenny RNNG


    That entire piece was beautiful. You’ve contributed a lot to this site and it’s readers. Your letter has impacted me greatly. I hope whatever your searching for in this world finds you before you find it because nobody as talented as you should be wasted on a life less ordinary. Thank you once again for everything.

  14. Augusto

    Thanks for all your effort and dedication, on you I could always find cold honesty and I like that.

    Your letter was amazing, I do hope that you get to find that special thing that gives meaning to your life…

    For me is my family, I find that work in just a way to get the money to be able to enjoy it with them.

    Best wishes.


  15. Rhys

    Hi Hil, best of luck with whatever you decide to do mate; if you’re ever in Australia post it and I’ll buy you a pint.

  16. Rob

    Hi Hil. Have loved your contributions over the years. IGN was the first website I ever visited (I typed in ‘N64′ and hit enter back in 1996/7, I forget). I even popped by the new offices when in San Fran (that british kid) to ‘live the dream’. I got a snap shot with Greg, Daemon and Eric (and coffee with miss Chobot) but didn’t have the chops to meet the big Hil, whose opinion meant too much to me. As I walked past you I caught a glare of the Goldstein though. Glad to hear you are moving on though, like I was glad fro Eric too. If your voice graces the iTunes store in podcast form, please link it on twitter.

    Pip Pip

  17. Jeremy

    Thank you Hilary, for your outstanding contribution and commitment to writing. You have always maintained and practiced exceptional integrity, impeccable passion and downright beautiful, often humorous levels of insight. Your article tag, titled “sad news” sums it all up luminously – call me crazy but it is without question that I could see you belting out Monty Pythons’ ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ merrily next to the Editors of yesteryear.

    I know for a fact that I will greatly miss enthralling myself in your latest review; preview or what have you on IGN.com. I wish you the best of luck for the future.

    Take care.

    -Long time reader and listener

    • Chris Nolte

      Couldn’t agree more. I’d like to add that I’ve always had a little hope the objectivity of video-game criticism could more closely be implemented in actual games. Let’s see if it works, would be cool :)

  18. Great letter, Hil. Best of luck in the future.

  19. Anibal

    Hil, you’re awesome bro. I wish you nothing but luck.

  20. Ryan Pingree

    Miss you so much already :( I cried a little when I found out you were leaving. Haven’t done that since Roper got let go… though I got pretty close with Craig. So now that you, Dave, and Erik are all unattached to IGN and Clements has started Podcast Unlocked, what are the chances I might get one more Three Red Lights? I’m serious.

  21. Oje

    Great article. I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but glad to see you’re still swinging. Your writing directly influenced my decision to become a Copywriter almost five years ago. Keep writing dude…here’s hoping you find what you’re looking for. Keep us informed!

  22. bashar


    I fully respect your decision. this greatly saddens my heart to hear you’re leaving. I started listening to you and became at fan about 6 years ago. But to be perfectly honest I forgot about how much fun I used to have and lost interest and time to listen to your podcasts. But then recently about 2 weeks ago I finally got back into all the podcasts and I find out you, the one person i held tremendous respect for, is leaving.

    I want you to know you did a lot for me when I was a kid, and I will always support you in anything you get into. You’re a great man Hil.

    good luck, and stay awesome bro.

  23. George

    I’ve been reading IGN longer than i can remember. As much as I enjoy reading the majority of articles published by IGN editors. I have to honestly say, Hilary’s were consistently, and by quite a margin, the most well put together pieces on the site.

    You, good sir, have an amazing gift for writing. I’m sure all who have read IGN over the years, especially myself, wish you all the best in whatever you choose to pursue.

    you will be missed, not lightly forgotten and even harder to replace.

    Good Luck

  24. It’s a bold and courageous move you are making and I wish you all the best. I’ve been a big fan of your contributions at IGN and I’ll follow you on your next big success.

  25. MRD.

    How did I miss this? The old guard is leaving IGN, and the new guard is being ASKED to leave IGN. Sadness. Bleak. Tears (running down my face). Tears (my garments; rends). Gnashing of teeth.

    I have never laughed harder at an IGN podcast than one of the early Knockin’ Boots podcasts you were on, and then some random Three Red Lights episode I wish I hadn’t deleted because I can’t remember which one it was. It was neat watching you go from Editor to something bossier than an Editor, and it’s going to feel kind of weird without you there.

    We don’t know each other, but know that a random person in Austin, TX (me) fully supports your decision to make a change. Best of luck with everything/anything you do from here on out. I already commented on your book blurb post, but hurry up with that, so I can buy it, and then force everyone in my family to buy it.



    • hil

      Thanks Matt. Change isn’t always a bad thing. IGN needs a change. Maybe it will come. At the very least, it will be a little different.

  26. frank

    i’m gonna miss your banter and your writing. always loved it when you unexpectedly showed up on the podcasts. hope to hear your voice again, long live rob the robot.

  27. Lauren

    I’m sorry to hear that one of my favourite editors is leaving IGN. Your voice is one of the first I heard when I started listening to IGN podcasts over two years ago when I was out walking my dogs one afternoon. I still remember that first podcast where you talked about Ryan Clements stealing your fries lol.

    Good luck Hil and I hope to see great things from you in the future!

  28. Albert

    Hilary I had no idea man – sorry to hear that. I lost my Dad a year ago to lung cancer that spread to his brain as well. Stay strong man and keep your friends close by. You are an amazing talent and I will continue to follow your work wherever it may lead you. Take care buddy.

  29. Seth

    So sorry for your loss Hilary. I lost my dad 5 years ago and it was devastating, but like you it really gave me perspective on where I was in my life. Best wishes going forward and as a member of the game development community (I’m in Austin), hopefully we’ll cross paths one day. Peace.

  30. Jim Scott

    I’ve been a avid fan of your writing on IGN and your own website for a long time. For years I used to think: “Wow, that Hilary Goldstein is a good writer and she sure is witty.”

    I used to bounce back and forth between IGN and Gamespot until I stumbled upon the “Three Red Lights” podcast two years ago. The chemistry between you, Erik Brudvig, Dave Claymen and Charles Onyett (“The Fab 4″) made for some of the best entertainment on any platform. I was all-in on IGN after getting to know the personality’s behind the writers from your podcasts.

    I applaud your courage for jumping ship at IGN. It takes guts to leave your comfort zone to pursue greener pastures. I’m sure your talent and personality will open many doors for you. Keep us updated on where you end up. We’re all rooting for you.

  31. Martin Cross (Macfool)

    I am truly sorry for what you had to go through with your mother – my mother-in-law’s partner also had breast cancer that she had beaten, but then spread into her brain. in our case it seemed mercifully quick, from the first day of her treatment for the brain cancer it was less than a month before she died. It is so strange that when you are you cancer is just a word you hear on the news from time to time. As you get older, you start seeing it in the world first-hand, and its devastating effects on people and their families.

    As for your leaving IGN, you will be sorely missed. Your humourous and honest writing always seemed to give more than the naked facts, and your articles (together with your insane meanderings on TRL) quickly made you my favourite editor.

    I dearly hope that this is not the last time I hear from you (I live in the UK and so will only be able to follow your web presence). You have an enviable and unique talent and I wish you every success – and more importantly, every happiness – for you and your loved ones.

    Be safe and be lucky, Mr. Hilary Goldstein. Via con dios.

  32. Taylor

    Hil, you are a great writer and I’m sure you’ll be missed all around the IGN community. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.


  33. Matt

    Nothing wrong with going out on your terms. IGN’s got a hole to fill with you gone – they’ll fill it, and I have no doubt that it’ll be stellar, because it seems like that’s how they run over there. But it won’t/can’t be quite the same. Not better, not worse. Just not the same.

    Best of luck, Hil, and keep us informed of what you’re working on.

  34. I’ve been in the IGN community for a good 6 years now, reading, watching, listening to podcasts. I remember when I emailed in and got made fun of by you because I won the IGN man purse. This was way back on one of the earliest Game Scoop’s, but learned from there I feel like I got to know you and everyone who appeared on those shows you know?

    I wish you the best Hil. You’ve entertained me and many, many other fans of IGN and I cannot wait to see what you do next.

    I never really liked R.O.B. being in my kitchen… but by god I am going to miss him.

  35. Ken

    Your editorials will be missed, but more importantly, I salute your decision to move on, personal time is needed just as much if not more so than having something to do on a daily basis. Take care, Hil!

  36. Rick

    My condolences with your mother, just went through a very similar situation with my mum. But you kept on going and that is a fantastic example to people out there caring for someone in that condition. Therefore best of luck Hil, will look out for your work.


    An IGN reader and video game fan

  37. Rod Leeson

    I heard snippets on this weeks podcasts this week.

    You’ll be missed, Hil. Thank you for the your unique insight into the industry and the games you reviewed and also thank you for the laughs. You are a legend :D

  38. As the last of the Red Lights fade, I bid you a fond good luck and farewell.

    You’ve done some amazing work at IGN, your reviews always classy and spot on and your editorials always thought-provoking and classy. It’s the guys at IGN that have inspired me to start writing about video games, and you were chief of the bunch.

    It’s a sad day for IGN when they lose their top dog, the head honcho that drove it to the site it is today.

    Good luck in all your future ventures Hilary, good luck.

    I look forward to reading your first novel!

  39. I shed a few tears while reading your article, Hilary. To be honest, while in remission, I share the same ailment that affected your mother. However, I also, now, share your thoughts, to include, “I want to do more before my time is done.”

    You’ve affected more people, in a positive manner, than you know. I wish you the best of luck. You’ll do great things, I’m certain. And thank you for being you.

    • hil

      I wish you a good recovery Chase.

    • Edwin

      Damn…….you got me brother……I’m so into IGN for people like you…cause u gave us ur life, time, blood sweet, tears and hard work. You’ll be missed by the Ign comunity, but at leats for my part, best of wishes, best of succes…..cause you my friend won’t need luck….you’ll get and achive great things!


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