As of this posting, Massively will be shut down as a result of AOL ensuring that they make themselves even more irrelevant to the psyche of internet users since the days they desperately started slinging hours of internet on CD-ROM. There was literally no good reason for the Joystiq network to be axed other than, apparently, some schmuck on the higher echelons of payroll believed it was a good idea, according to editor-in-chief Brianna Royce.
I would like to be able to tell you truthfully that this is an equitable and just decision that makes some sort of logical sense, but the reality is that our overlords’ decisions have always been unfathomable. …There’s nothing to do in the face of that kind of logic but throw your hands in the air.
What burns the most for me about the shutdown of the Joystiq network and of Massively isn’t just the way they did it–hinging the possibility of severance if word was released early, but the fact that the writers of Massively were outstanding, upstanding and honest and it still didn’t matter. If this event happened in an 80’s movie, the head of AOL would land face-first in a giant pile of whipped cream through the antics of the Massively staff and perhaps some plucky alien Muppet. But, of course, this is real life…where we’re taught that standing up for your values and remaining unflinching in the face of twisting dickbaggery will see you to victory.
That didn’t happen here. Justice was not meted out this day, and instead The Big Guy won out. Because life isn’t fair and values are like wet tissue paper against the laser of corporate ignorance. And that’s what angers me the most about this whole thing. A life lesson that’s been instilled in the minds of moral and just people did not pass the sniff test.
And if it hurts for me, I can only imagine how much it hurts for the staff who actually practiced this virtue.
A website being shuttered shouldn’t have a profound effect on me or anyone else, but the Joystiq network had made a genuine impact. These were folks who loved what they did, if the team at Massively were any indication. And not only did they love covering MMOs but they loved talking about MMOs. They had their own little columns about the games they loved. Even when they were burned out by MMOs, they wrote about being burnt out. On top of all of that, they reported on MMOs from the Kickstarting indies to the big-budget beasts. These were enthusiasts who also had more journalistic integrity than entire newspapers…and the industry was richer for their existence.
But more than just an industry-wide impact, Massively had a profound impact on me. It was the writing of the Massively squad that got me to engage in the conversations going on in the comments. Which got people apparently enjoying the stuff I was typing. And then, when Massively ran an article about Blaugust and the New Blogger Initiative, my blogging fate was sealed. There, literally, would not be a Through Wolfy’s Eyes without the wonderful team at Massively.
Though I’m painting the entire team with a broad brush, I’d be remiss if I didn’t line up how each person made an impact on my own writing. Anatoli showed me how to weave humor and charm into information and opinion–a lesson I’m still trying to iron out. Eliot showed me how annoyance and enjoyment can be written with a concise smirk. Mike and Larry both gave me a reminder to approach writing with warmth and respect. Jef showed me how to disagree with opinions in a manner that didn’t devolve into flaming rage. MJ reminded me to be optimistic and excited, as well as showed me the power of the exclamation point. Brendan illustrated how best to disseminate information and present a view with precision and accuracy. And Bree kept reminding me to type legibly and write clearly, like an English teacher standing just behind my shoulder, eyes fixated on the page with laser-sharp critical focus.
As idiotic and pipe-dreamy as it sounds, I kinda feel like my writing career was a part of the site. Whenever I made a comment that one of the official writers of the site liked, it felt validating. Empowering. Their level of engagement was more encouraging than they probably know. And I can’t thank them enough for that.
It’s for all of these reasons that I don’t want to say goodbye…and I hope fervently that the little hints they’ve been dropping here and there about a return together in some sort of crowdfunded manner has me crossing every available extremity. Until then, however, I will say this in the hopes that at least one of them are reading.
Deeply. Fervently. Genuinely. Thank you.