A lot of people have been asking me how Certis and I put together our new site. Ok, by a lot of people I mean my mom. All right, she didn't even ask, but let's move past all that shall we? The fact is that creating and organizing even a basic website is more of an endeavor than I might have ever expected. I certainly couldn't have anticipated all the minor nightmares that plagued our slow but steady development. It seemed like all the things that I had feared would be insurmountable turned out to be as threatening as kittens wearing red bows innocently lapping milk, while the little things I'd never even considered sent us into conniptions. So today, I present the part one of the Making of Gamers With Jobs.
I don't need to tell you to click the 'Read More' link or the headline to read the article do I? Of course I don't.
Welcome to the opening of GamersWithJobs.com, a site that could conceivably change the world! Granted, such change may only manifest itself through a chaos theory fantasy by which our actions, like a butterfly beating its tired wings, stir a curious chain of events rendering Punxsutawney Phil unable to see his shadow ushering forth an early spring, but we'll take what we get. How could this sort of change take place? Don't ask. It involves fractals and Jeff Goldblum. You wouldn't understand.
For our opening day I wanted to convey to both of our readers how co-founder Shawn Andrich (Certis) and I progressed from an indistinct and innocent idea to the digital chronicle presented here today. I also thought this record might serve me well in any future court proceedings.
The first thing I learned about developing a website is that it is extraordinarily easy. My experience with the nuts and bolts of development - though I later discovered that neither nuts nor bolts are used - involved me mentioning some design element to Shawn who then either implemented or discarded my idea. For example I might have asked to include a counter with each article to track what our readers are interested in, and then, using magic I presume, Shawn would implement such change. Or, I might have suggested that we include a special section dedicated to former Pink Power Ranger and music sensation, Amy Jo Johnson. Apparently Shawn's magical arts could not or would not implement this change. My point is that my experience with the site's actual development was a sconce limited.
I was, however, integral to the concept of this site, and acted as a terrific observer of the process. We had many great discussions about how to proceed.
"How about red 8 point text on a pumpkin-orange background," I might say.
"Shut-up," he would suggest, and thus it went.
Eventually it occurred to me that perhaps my talents might be better focused on potentially introducing something like content for GamersWithJobs. Shawn concurred and lovingly encouraged me to go write one of my little articles while he got some real work done, and where the hell was the money I had promised to pay for hosting. The check was in the mail.
So it's reasonable to ask how two former Evil Avatar news hounds got it in their head to start their own website. Well, here's a small look at the dialogue that set us on the twisted, and unusually dusty, trail that wandered ever onward toward this website, which up to seven of you may be reading right now:
You may be wondering who I am conversing with in this snippet. Apparently Shawn, who is better known in these parts as Certis, leads a second, or perhaps third, secret life as Dreborn. Why Dreborn, you ask? Why indeed. I chalk it up as some kind of secret obsession with rap phenom Dr. Dre, but you'll have to go to the source for an answer, as I can only provide poorly researched conjecture. As you can see from this snippet of our ICQ history, Shawn has too much time on his hands, and I like using forms of the word string. Yet, we both agreed that a new website was just the kind of thing that would finally humiliate us away from the internet altogether. It was the only thing we would agree on for several days.
Early in the process we tried to decide how we wanted to be identified with the site. Naturally we had carefully fostered the identities of Certis and Elysium back at Evil Avatar, usually by nursing one another's illusions of self-importance while the rest of the world generally ignored us, sometimes even crossing the street and pretending not to notice us when we walked by. We wondered whether we should bring those names with us to this new endeavor. We briefly considered using our real names instead, but this proved problematic as our names are homophonic - please note, the word "˜homophonic' is not descriptive of a lifestyle, and thus should not elicit chuckling. We were concerned that readers might grow confused, then frustrated, and finally hunt us down in our sleep if uncertain whether to blame Shawn (Certis) or Sean (Me) for any given misinformation or outright embellishment (it was Shawn). Further complicating matters we could not stop accusing each other of bastardizing such a fine name with heinous misspellings, and our mutual friend Rob kept insisting we name the site "˜Two Seans and a Bottle of Whisky". That settled it. No names.
So Elysium and Certis were revived - despite my threats of openly referring to him as Curtis. Frankly I think it was the right decision, particularly for Curtis!
The next question we tackled was: if not a news site, then what will we be? I was the one who put our sentiment into the words "˜gamer culture', but that was only simplifying the ideas Curtis had already devised. There are plenty of game sites on the internet, and very few of them are particularly noteworthy, but we felt gamers are about more than just the games they play. No really!
Ok, games are a huge part of how we are perceived as a sub-culture, and when it comes right down to it, games will ultimately be the reinforced Super-Glue that holds our jagged community together. Yet, there seems to be a great undercurrent of culture that revolves around the gravitational whirlpool of electronic entertainment. Look at discussions on any gaming website and you'll see plenty of off topic matter. Our idea is simple: Take the off topic stuff; make it on topic. It changes nothing about shared interest in games, it just puts movies, music, comic books, technology and gadgetry on the table as well.
Now we had a fundamental idea of where we wanted to go, with no idea of quite how to get there. I was better prepared to cross the Kalahari desert with only a head cold and a salt lick than to find my way through all the preparation necessary in getting a game-culture site up and running. As we tackled any one task, four new issues would crop up through it, though, I was regularly surprised at the places we would suddenly find ourselves spinning our creative wheels in the bog of PHP mud.
Side note: I'm not sure what PHP is, but Curtis kept blaming it for things that would go wrong. I suspect it may be a fictional creation of his to which he can ascribe all that thwarts him in this world. I can picture him being stuck in traffic, late for a meeting, a doctor's appointment, or his regular massage, shaking one fist in the air and damning PHP for screwing him yet again.
The first big question was what to name the site. Rob again suggested "˜Two Seans and a Bottle of Whiskey'. In response we threatened to hit him with an assortment of pointed, possibly metal objects if he persisted. Of course, we ultimately devised GamersWithJobs.com which, despite any opinion you may hold to the contrary, is a terrific name. It being a terrific name is in no way a result of either Shawn or I. Our ideas for names were terrible, each one successively more rotten than the one just before. Finally, Shawn ended our string of atrocious names by climbing to the top of Mount Atrocious and receiving from on high a name so staggeringly bad that I'm not sure how a functioning brain conceived it. Vomited indelibly on to my brain, Shawn actually suggested we name the site Entergament.com. Certainly, I hear you say, no one could be so ludicrous as to suggest Entergament! I wouldn't believe it either, if I hadn't actually seen this:
I can only hope it was some joke meant to release tension, though he assures me to this day that eventually the word Entergament will make him millions. I, in turn, assure him that this will only happen should aliens descend from space and zap stupid, as a concept, off the face of the planet leaving only Shawn's Entergament suggestion as the sole remaining illustration of stupidity, and even then I have doubts.
As is often the case when faced with actual problem solving issues, I turned to my wife on the matter of naming our site, and so it was she that suggested the name. Similarly, it was Shawn's significant other that nudged him gently, like a mother eagle ushering her young to fly, toward correctly choosing said name. In many ways this is not so much a site created by Shawn and I, as it is a site indirectly created by our loving and patient women who allow us to take most of the credit. Pleased with having chosen a name, and already creating an imaginary reality in which we contributed to the naming process, we moved on.
During this time, we also began to wonder how we were actually going to find hosting. Shawn, who lives in Canada and thus should be forgiven his naivete, wondered if free-hosting was still a viable option. It was not. Though our explorations on the matter eventually led us toward Old Man Murray's very own Chet and POEHosting. I could go on for a while about how well our experience with POEHosting went, but it would start to sound like a commercial. I will say that I was surprised to discover that during his brief telephone call with Chet, Shawn was not once verbally abused with a chain of violently creative profanity. It certainly would have been the tack I'd have taken with Shawn, and we both had a preconceived notion of how OMM's Chet should act. Like meeting a favorite actor in real life, but not having that actor come off as an imperious prima-donna, Chet was professional, articulate, and helpful. Not once did he hurl invective toward Shawn. I kind of think Shawn was a little disappointed.
And so, somewhere near many whirring computers surrounded by snaking wires a bell rang and our new website was given its wings. Granted, the wings were a bit uninspired. The site itself was naked and shivering. Now it was time to get down to the real work, choosing colors!
Look for the rest of the story, and the trials and tribulations of actually trying to make a website function, later this week.