April 22, 2013
When I started GameCola back in 2002, I was a sophomore in high school, looking for a way to develop my skills as a writer so I could one day write for a gaming magazine (this was of course back when there were magazines), or even—this was the ultimate dream—actually write for videogames themselves. I was inspired by my older brother’s movie review newsletter, then called MovieMansion, now called Frothy Ruminations. What better way to become a writer than to, well, start up my own website and actually become a writer? Even at age 16, I knew my goals. I had places to go.
Little by little, the site grew. As reserved as I am in real life I’ve always enjoyed collaborating with friends, and early on I got some of my best bros (not to mention some of the most talented people I know to this day) to help out—people like Jenna Ogilvie, Brian Wolf, and Lianna Gaughan—and of course, Neal Iannone and Matt Gardner. I’ve made jokes about it before, but in those days, we really did plot out each and every issue of GameCola’s newsletter in after-school meetings in Shawnee’s cafeteria. I still have the minutes recorded on cassette tape somewhere.
Then we graduated—both me, and GameCola itself. The site made new friends. Your Brian Vaneks; your Stuart Gipps. Your Captain Erics. GameCola evolved. It wasn’t just localized to the area immediately surrounding…well, me, anymore; it was national. Global. We had writers in other countries. Can you imagine? This dumb thing I put together in high school—this little website where I was waxing nostalgic about Super Nintendo games while still practically a baby myself—was attracting writers from around the world. (And considering what the site looked like at the time, I can guarantee you it wasn’t just our whiz-bang layout.) Readership was stagnant, sure, but it’s not like we ever really cared about that before. We were building a community within ourselves, and by the time college was finished and I was moving into the real world, GameCola wasn’t just a collection of writers who popped in for a few months until they got bored. Jeddy joined our family. Colin. Christian. Nathaniel. The Michaels. Matt Jonas. All of our friends who shaped GameCola into what it is today—a place where people can make fun of games, in every sense of the phrase.
Which brings us to today. GameCola’s 11th birthday. This site has been with me through every major milestone of my life, from high school to honeymoon. It’s been my thing through most of my teenage years and all of my adult life so far. It’s been my hobby, my creative outlet. What I’m known for. My baby. Nothing I can say can put into words how important this site and everyone who’s ever written for it, read it, or even posted some jerky comment on it has meant to me, and leaving it now feels like I’m cutting out my own appendix.
But it’s time. See, I’m one of the lucky few whose childhood dream has actually come true. I’m not just an aspiring games developer anymore; I’m a games developer, period. I wrote and designed my own little adventure game in the form of Life in the Dorms last year, and now I’ve got another one on the way, hopefully by the end of this year (but probably sometime next). I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work for companies small and—well, slightly less small. I even got to work with Daedalic, who developed one of my all-time favorite adventure games.
And it happened much the way I started GameCola—I wanted to be a games developer, so I got out there and found a way to develop games. If I can leave you with anything, it’s the advice to stop being an “aspiring” anything and just become that thing.
But don’t consider this a game over. It’s not even a reset; it’s a New Game+. I’m leaving GameCola, but I eagerly welcome the new man in charge. You know him as the three-time Staff Member of the Year, podcast master, writer, artist, and noted Jaleel White impersonator Alex “Jeddy” Jedraszczak. May he, and everyone else who’s a part of the GameCola family, now and in the future, be so lucky as I’ve been these past 11 years.
P.S. If you wanna keep in touch, you know where to find me.