It started as a rumor. A twisted, Kafkaesque rumor where a site had to report on itself, but it was a rumor nonetheless. Really: was. It soon became a reality that few of us saw coming (and many of us hoped against). As of tomorrow, Joystiq will be no more.
There are far more insightful words written about the closing, specifically by those that have been directly involved in Joystiq and other surrounding sites. (Worse than that, it is hardly the most tragic news from last week.) But that doesn’t mean that little orange blip on your bookmarks bar couldn’t and doesn’t have a profound impact on your and my life.
I, like many of you, have a routine. I’m not deeply entrenched in my calendar or clock-based activities like waking up at a certain hour or remembering what particular day of the week it is, but I do still live as a creature of some habit. For instance, I still swirl and jab the analog sticks on my controller before I play as suggested by some system manual years ago. (But now I just like the sound it makes.)
And when I fired up my browser, quickly mourned the passing of Google Reader, and started typing in URLs to keep up with the Joneses of industry talk, the first three letters were always the same: J-O-Y. Really, nothing was necessary after J, but typing out that little bit of jovial naming made me feel exactly what it said.
My relationship with the site, however, deteriorated as the years went on. While I never stopped respecting the opinions of the writers staffed there, I did slowly drain out the reviews and the like from my docket. There’s no reason to it. It just happened.
Perhaps it was too dependable. Or, more likely, it was too static. Like reading IGN or Gamespot, it felt like Joystiq had nestled into its groove. It was a groove it did extremely well, but a groove all the same. And you only ever find that once you find success, anyways.
But other sites kept doing things. Polygon crept up and, like, existed. Kotaku went through several iterations of aiming and sailing in all kinds of directions. And then personalities eventually came to rule the domain, finding readers by allowing them to align with views they knew would be mirrored by particular writers.
In a word, other sites were just more exciting. They didn’t necessarily do better than Joystiq, but they were certainly more interesting to bounce around. And it’s something that fills me with immense regret, because only now am I realizing just how much I still depended on that one site.
They did what they wanted to do, and that was a deluge of news. Asking questions, interpreting press releases, sharing the dots that they’ve connected. It was something that few others wanted for themselves, so few even tried, but it was something we all needed. They can’t be asked to do what everyone else was doing because then they wouldn’t be Joystiq.
Once you let the floodgates go, it’s easy to be a personality. And after meeting many of the staffers at the site across several years at E3s, PAXs, and whatnot, even as they moved and shuffled around to other outlets, I can say they all have winning personalities. And it’s hard to charge forward and keep a straight face in the crushing, interminable cycle of overtly objective news.
Joystiq did something even harder, though. They gave glimpses of themselves as they wrote up raw facts. Puns galore from editor-in-chief Ludwig Kietzmann; unfettered glee with managing editor Susan Arendt’s fluffy animals; and so on and so on. They let you know who they were without sacrificing what they wanted to say.
Maybe I’m meandering. Maybe I’m misremembering. Maybe a lot of things. But it’s been over ten years. A lot has happened since then, and they’ve been around for all of it. The trade shows, the drama, the everything. But I guess it can be summed up in this: I’ll miss you, Joystiq. I’ll miss you lots.