Decade

It was early winter 2002 when Shawn Andrich, a guy I sort of knew pretty well through a website we had both worked on together, came to me with a remarkably bad idea.

“We should make our own gaming website,” said he.

Shawn was criminally young, probably 12 or so at the time. I couldn’t possibly say for sure. I was still in my twenties, which is to say I was 29, and as a result idealistic, easily influenced and prone to questionable decision making. Were he, brash and Canadian as he is, to come to me now in my wizened old age of 39 with such an idea, I would probably put a brass horn to my ear and say, “Eh, what’s that sonny?” It would look ridiculous.

However, as the adult in the conversation at the time, it was probably my responsibility to point out at that moment, as others would over the coming weeks, that creating a gaming website was a fool’s errand that almost certainly would lead to nothing more than headaches and a significant, probably lasting blow to our egos. After all, the last thing the world needed was another website about video games.

What I did say is, “That’s a great idea!” Or something similar. Probably there was some sarcasm and pointless pontification involved, but an affirmation was the relevant core of the response.

And thus was hatched a scheme that almost certainly would fail quietly and unobserved by anyone: to create a gaming website designed to appeal to mature gamers. Gamers with families and mortgages. Gamers who were interested in more than just guns, gore and girls. Gamers with some sense of sophistication and passion. Gamers, one might say, with jobs.

And yet, here we are exactly ten years later. Yup, exactly ten years. And two weeks. And two days. And probably a few hours later. Ok, what I’m saying is I missed our ten year anniversary. Let’s celebrate anyway.

Ask me what I’m most proud of about Gamerswithjobs. Go ahead do it. I’ll wait.

Thank you for asking.

If you go back to the very first post to GWJ ever, which occurred January 13, 2003, you will find our “mission statement.” I realize having a mission statement for what is essentially your video game blog can seem a little pretentious, but, as it turned out, having a core ideology for our games site proved an important compass from which we charted an uncertain path. And that mission statement was this: to provide wide ranging content relevant to the adult gamer, and provide a community for all aspects of mature gamer culture.

Here’s what I’m proud of: Ten years later that is still exactly what we are trying to do. In a decade during which the site could have gone astray countless times, we have held true to the reason we gave it a go in the first place. That feels like a pretty big accomplishment to me, who frankly can barely hold a single plan through a long afternoon.

Also, it’s super-easy to screw up running a games site. Or screw up writing about games. Or building a network of contacts. Or creating a community. Or moderating a community. Or starting a podcast. Those are all things, looking back, that I see fraught with countless pitfalls and certain failure. That I was able to be part of an endeavor that was successful at any one of those things is the sort of accomplishment that, if it came with a ribbon, I’d frame and hang that ribbon over the mantle. I’d take a picture with it every year and send it as my Christmas card. I’d put it on my tombstone: Here lies Sean Sands who did not f*** up starting a podcast.

That we’ve had any success at all of those things, if you are willing to concede that we have, is the kind of good fortune that I think ensures I will never win the lottery. After all, you don’t get that lucky again.

I don’t mean to overplay the “Aw shucks, I didn’t do nothin’,” card, because all of us who work on GWJ put a lot of hours into making this a place worth coming to. I’ve written a lot of words — some that came easily and naturally, far more that sputtered out awkwardly and stubborn — and committed hours to the content of the site. But the thing is, it hasn’t been a burden or felt like work (at least not usually), and I would never want to cast it like that. Had GWJ been something we did to turn a profit or to aggrandize our egos or to break into the industry or any of that, then it would have been done and gone before the first year was out.

And that would have been fine, because that site wouldn’t have been worth your time. That site would have been what a lot of people suspected GWJ was at first, a sputtering flash in an overcrowded pan. A pointless exercise from people with too much time and not enough heart.

But I also won’t say GWJ has succeeded because Shawn and I somehow love it more than the people who have stepped in our shoes before with no worse intentions or desire. A lot of things came together over the years to allow the site to continue and thrive. Part of it was that, for a long time, both Shawn and I had the professional flexibility to put the time and effort in. Another part of it was that I do think we were able to carve out a niche that distinguished us during the days when new gaming sites were all about aggregating news and quick-hit headlines. The biggest part though, was the phenomenal writers and talent that have invested every bit as much into the site as we have. Writers and contributors who have my head spin with their talent and my eyes occasionally leak salty, manly tears when they tell their own stories.

Without them, again it just would never have come together. Within a short time Shawn and I would have virtually high-fived and consoled each other on a good, honest effort, and … well, I really don’t like to think about what that future might have been. Because, for me, GWJ isn’t some website I slap my name onto every now and again, or a hobby that I’ve done to entertain myself for a few years.

It’s so much more important to me than any of that. It feels very much like a part of me, something that is entwined into my own identity now. That might sound stupid or maudlin or like some nonsensical exaggeration, but I stand behind it. Not having had this site in my life, this community by my side, this family ... without all of that, the story of my past ten years would have been drawn in darker hues. This site, and by extension I mean all of you, has magnified the joyful times in my life, and has comforted me during the hard times. You were there for the birth of my sons. You were there when I began my own business, and when it folded. You were there when my heart failed me, and when it was fixed. You were there the day I thought I had lost my son. I was stronger in all those moments because of this site and because of you people who have joined us on this strange, wonderful journey.

I have met you, and every single time have found someone who made my life a little richer. You have told us what the site means to you, and you can’t imagine the pride that gives us. So many of my now best friends would be unknown to me had Shawn never had his crazy-stupid idea.

So, I celebrate ten years with a little bit of navel gazing and possibly a bit too much self-congratulations, but mostly with a thank you, because as we’ve said time and again, GWJ is nothing if not for you. You who have contributed words and ideas. You who have joined the community. You who have supported one another through good times and bad. You who have been generous to us and to this community more than I would have thought possible. You who have been interested in having a meaningful conversation about this culture we share. You who have visited or read or listened.

You are the reason this site exists.

Someday — I don’t know when — the last article will be penned for GWJ. The last podcast will be recorded. The last post will be written in our forums. The last day of Gamerswithjobs.com will come, and the lights will go out and it will all be over. That is a thing that will happen … eventually. And, assuming I’m still kicking around on that day, the sadness I think I will feel will be as keen and sharp as any I’d want to imagine.

I mention this only because I know, for me, these are the lucky days of my life. I hope they hold fast for days and months and years and, yes, maybe decades to come. This site, the partnerships we’ve built, the friends I’ve made through it, are a large part of what makes these days lucky. You make me feel fortunate beyond what I could possibly deserve, and so I want to breathe life and keep the lights bright on this site for as many days as I can. And I think I still can for a long time.

So what do you guys say?

Are you up for another decade?

I think I’m game.

Comments

Trust me, you don't want to make out with me. You'll get sick.

There's a possibility Sean and I will record a conversation about starting the site and things we've learned along the way at some point soon. Don't worry, it will be separate from the podcast and easily skippable

It's hard to put into words what the thousands of people that make up GWJ means to me. After so long it's as much a part of my identity as being married to Karla is. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without it.

I'm asked fairly often how to build a community or how to run one. I still haven't found the right answer yet, but one thing that surprises people is that you really have to have a firm hand on the wheel in the beginning and over a long period of time you have to ease off and let the community drive the experience. We've always been blessed with a base of really great people over the years (see Pyroman's comment in our very first post!) who have put their stamp on things and ultimately created the online space they want to live in.

The site as it stands right now was built by Jeff Beeman and company. They're working away on a brand new design this year and we're all really excited about it. The front page editorial is managed by Wordsmythe and the Writer's Guild is a total dog pile of enthusiastic, creative people. The podcast happens week in, week out because we collectively decided hell or highwater, we have to hit that every single week. I keep an eye on things, but my hand is very light indeed these days because for everything I used to do, there are incredibly talented people who can do it better.

I'm keenly aware that GWJ collectively represents an important, daily sense of belonging to many of us and I think that's an essential part of living a full life. I'm very grateful I get to be a part of it.

A heartfelt congratulations on 10 years! This has been an island of calm in my day for a long long time now. Great conversations, have met great people, and it really helps a person forget what a cess pit the rest of the internet can be!

Lets hope for 10, 20, 30... more!

Congrats on 10 years! This whole place is truly something special, and you deserve to feel proud of it.

I really commend you guys for keeping this site running for the first seven years, when I hadn't joined yet and this place was probably just some kind of internet wasteland. Or something.

Seriously love this site. I look forward to nostalgia posts 30 years from now where people will be thinking in past tense and asking, "Hey, was Darksiders any good?"

Well the ten-year anniversary is the 'tin' anniversary so I expect Shawn/Sean will receive plenty of canned-goods at PAX.

Thanks for the commitment from everyone to make this such a strong community. I wouldn't have joined when I was 14, but I know that I wish I had joined up before I was 23.

Certis wrote:

There's a possibility Sean and I will record a conversation about starting the site and things we've learned along the way at some point soon. Don't worry, it will be separate from the podcast and easily skippable

Fine. Next time, I'm not kissing your tireless, dutiful asses at all.

According to my profile, which I just checked, I've been here just under five years. It feels like less and more at the same time. GWJ is one of a handful (actually only really two) sites that have been consistent daily, weekly gotos for me - a great site with great people, great words and a great ethos. It's a shining beacon in a sea of lookalike review sites and braindead gaming forums. I'm terribly glad to have found it and I dearly hope it sticks around for another decade.

Here's to you guys.

You have my mouse.

Looking forward to the next 10 years! Keep up the awesome work!

IMAGE(http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s149/MilkmanDanimal/evony_fixed.jpg)

Cheers and beers, to 10 more years! Seriously, thank you to all of the people who have contributed and made this site possible.

Here is to 10 years and more!

I've been here for 5 years, would love to be there for the next 10!

Thank you.

Discovering this site was a revelatory experience for me. I'm grateful for all those who do work to keep it up, running, and healthy. The League of Legends and Left 4 Dead groups have really made my time here enjoyable.

Congrats on 10 years!

Edit: for grammar and justice!

Much like my food, I internet the way I eat; start with mundane, save the best for last. That´s why, whenever I turn my PC at home on, or my laptop at work, I start with email, facebook, twitter, couple film n TV feeds, slowly progress into comicbookmovie territory, then onto gaming like Portal 2 and TF2 sites, then creative stuff like DeviantART, Renderosity and other art galleries, finally reaching the holy grail, GWJ.

Then, I know I can spend hours and hours reading all your crazy antics, and have a blast.

I´ve been a member for 3 yrs and 13 weeks, and I´ve enjoyed that time immensely, so thank you Sean and Shawn for creating this, and to the rest for keeping it up.

Now, more appropriate than ever before, SHALALM BASKUR.

Holy crap. I've been trolling and posting on this site for 9 years!?

Certis wrote:

I'm keenly aware that GWJ collectively represents an important, daily sense of belonging to many of us and I think that's an essential part of living a full life. I'm very grateful I get to be a part of it.

It's appreciated. It's so nice to have a little corner of the internet to call home.

Internet archeologists of the future will rummage through their way back machines in search of this mythical place, that site only spoken of in legends.

I am constantly overjoyed that I managed to find this place and become a member of this community, that I got to live during this era and share it with you all.

To those future people; I'm sorry you missed out, you really did, I recommend inventing time travel - GWJ is worth it.

IMAGE(http://rps.net/QS/Images/Smilies/fingerbutt.gif)

Here's the soundtrack for this post.

Thanks for the hard work, guys!

Glad that I've found it when I did. So thanks for starting up this site and and happy to have found like minded people

Congrats, GWJ Overlords! You have created something truly remarkable.

Can I tell you, it is a dream of mine to be a guest on a political talk show (Maddow or Hardball most likely but there are many others).

But the thing that tickles me the most after waxing politic, is to loudly affirm that I get my political news from a video game website! And I am so much the richer for it.

P&C may be the ugly stepchild forum but it is the clearest and most concise example (of too numerous to count examples) of what makes GWJ special.

I don't mean to devalue the other forums, stories and events by any stretch. With a long line of accomplishments: launching, Swaydora's box, the anti-review, the podcast, E3 and pax, slap and tickles, International GWJ day; I cannot wait to see what we come up with next.

Certis wrote:

The podcast happens week in, week out because we collectively decided hell or highwater, we have to hit that every single week.

A good rule for any serious, long-term relationship.

wordsmythe wrote:
Certis wrote:

The podcast happens week in, week out because we collectively decided hell or highwater, we have to hit that every single week.

A good rule for any serious, long-term relationship.

Like the fist of an angry god.

Tanglebones wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
Certis wrote:

The podcast happens week in, week out because we collectively decided hell or highwater, we have to hit that every single week.

A good rule for any serious, long-term relationship.

Like the fist of an angry god.

Well played.

I know I don't post very often, but I read the forums and this site religiously. This is a great community and truly one of the bright spots on the internet for me. Congratulations guys on running such a great community.

Tanglebones wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
Certis wrote:

The podcast happens week in, week out because we collectively decided hell or highwater, we have to hit that every single week.

A good rule for any serious, long-term relationship.

Like the fist of an angry god.

Lightning Bolt --> Butt?

10 years is amazing! Happy birthiversary!

Thanks for all your hard work. We appreciate it.