Six years seems, simultaneously, small and huge. Small in the sense that I still get energized about the site on a regular basis and it seems like we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we want to do. Huge in the sense that there is a lot of history here, and personalities that shine brightly while populating a world I enjoy living in. Though imperfect, I am proud of the community that congregates under Stan’s daydreaming thought-bubble, and it has provided me far more rich entertainment than I deserve.
As always, I am reminded that this, our sixth anniversary, is not so much about us as it is about you.
It has been a significant year for GWJ. We completely revamped the look and feel of the site. We had some amazing guests and conversations on the podcast. We hosted absolutely amazing content from writers that I look forward to working with every day. We were shown overwhelming support by a fantastic community. As I look back over 2008 I find much to be encouraged about moving forward into our seventh year.
Every year, I ask you to bear with me for a day as I become maudlin and over-serious about what has been a long and rewarding project for me. This year is no different, and as I think back on an eventful year, I find a few highlights distinguish 2008.
The Conference Call -
I’m not certain when the podcast became a cornerstone of the site, but it has. I recall well when GWJ Radio, a show of which I was a sincere fan, recorded its final broadcast, I thought quite clearly, “well, it was nice while it lasted.” We floated the idea to resurrect some kind of broadcast for a good year, always certain that the exercise would likely be short-lived, before Rob finally goaded us into action. The results have been surprising.
As I suspect many of you know from listening, it’s not about the guests or the games. Really, the Conference Call is just an opportunity for me to sit back and talk about games with friends every week. Even when I go into the show feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, it becomes a highlight of my week.
Yes, I know many of you would like to listen to those oldest shows, and we are still trying to find a solution that will allow us to work that programming back into the official canon. There are complications that have to do with libraries, feeds and words that mean nothing to me. It’s on our list.
User Supported Content -
Perhaps the most significant highlight of the year, for me, was being able to take down much of the advertising. I was never comfortable with our solutions for advertising partnerships, and it won’t surprise anyone involved in online publication to know that finding good advertisers is a full time task to which I was not adequately equipped. Then, you guys stepped up in a donation drive that allowed us to reach our financial goals without having to rely on ads for smiley faces or pirates that solve puzzles.
I know the user-supported model isn’t an option for every site, or even all that many sites, but I feel like it organizes priorities in the right place. We are beholden to you. Our support of the community and ability to deliver the content you want decides our fate. It’s not about writing articles that generate the right kind of viewership or advertising options, it’s about staying current with what’s important to you.
That was a good change for us, and it means that when you see an advertisement on GWJ now, it’s not just an attempt to cash in on traffic but an actual endorsement. There’s a valuable distinction there.
The Community –
As I read over Rabbit’s most recent article on Braid, and find a discussion on gaming that seems unparalleled, I can’t help but continue to marvel at the folks who make up our community. I say it every year, and I mean it as sincerely now as ever before, you guys are what makes GWJ worth visiting. I love the articles and content produced by our talented pool of writers, and I take great pride in the work we do, but the community is what makes the site worth visiting throughout the day.
This site is yours in some very real ways. So, whether you’ve been here for a few weeks or since January 15, 2003, happy anniversary!