As many sites trundle on towards their always uncertain future, they will be without the company of one storied compatriot (among others, also culled by the great AOLtech purge of 2015).
An 11-year old veteran of the video game blogging community, Joystiq was my main-squeeze for gaming news and intrigue for the majority of my gaming hobby’s formative years. It stands alongside the likes of Kotaku as the first step in a long battle of reclaiming gaming news from corporate behemoths like IGN and Gamespot, paving the way for a more grassroots and multi-faceted look at the industry we all enjoy. Joystiq was the first of these ‘next-wave’ gaming blogs to hit the scene, and the closing of their digital doors harkens to the cold reality of the ever-present bottom line that looms over many of the best laid blogs.
Together with WoW Insider and Massively, the loss of the gaming-centric portion of of AoL’s tech blogs has been widely felt around the gaming community. News of WoW Insider’s closing trended around Twitter this past week, and numerous gaming websites have been posting memorials and retrospectives, giving thanks and praise to a website that set the stage for many independent and smaller-scale blogs to make their space in the changing way the web reported on video gaming. Without the groundwork laid by underdogs like Joystiq and longtime rival Kotaku, many of the thriving independent gaming blogs of today would not exist. Polygon, RPS, GamesRadar and many more outlets have carved critical acclaim out of this foundation, with Polygon’s Brian Crecente serving as Kotaku’s editor in chief for the first seven years of its life (his retrospective on the passing of Joystiq is particularly worth the read).
Much ado has been made of ‘gaming journalism’ and its merits as of late. While the press has not always been transparent, and collusion has reared its ugly head at some of the larger gaming news outlets, with reviewers being censured, paid-off and more. Joystiq kept itself free of the muck, and I felt that its staff and their work always worked to represent an honest portrayal of video game news and culture as it developed, without the strings of outside influence from publishers or shareholders working to sway the content that kept readers like me coming back for many years. While readers remain wary of bigger outlets (with good reason), time and again, the blogs have proven their worth and their allegiance to the consumer, and it is sad to see this kind of content creation disappear.
The eulogies for Joystiq will continue, and that is a good thing. A moment should be spared for this website, and the way it helped change the gaming press for the future. We still have quite a way to go, but the horizon looks promising. While the website will cease operations, I am sure the voice of Joystiq and its collaborators will carry on in the goodwill of honest gaming press as it marches ever-onwards.
While the loss of Joystiq might not bode well for the timing of CoA’s relaunch, in an effort to lend our perspectives to the ever-shifting landscape of ‘video game journalism’, we will press on and hope that the talented and hardworking staff of Joystiq will move on to a bigger and brighter future in the industry we all love.