As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. That's also true for passion projects — even the ones that define nearly a decade of our lives. After taking a few months off for some soul-searching, the five of us here at Silicon Sasquatch — Aaron, Doug, Nick, Spencer, and Tyler — have decided it's time to retire this project. We're each moving in different directions than we were in 2008, and although we've enjoyed working together over these nearly seven years, it became clear that we're each ready to move on to something new.
But even as we're moving on, we sure have a lot to be happy about. After all, we managed to keep this publication running on a paper-thin, bootstrapped budget while maintaining our (actually pretty high) standards of editing and professionalism.
For those of you who are numbers people, here's another way of looking at it:
- 2,319 days have passed since we launched (On December 20, 2008)
- 583 posts have been published (roughly one post every four days)
- 72 reviews were posted, with a diverse list that ranges from blockbuster console games to nonfiction books
- 58 podcasts were recorded — and that's not including Player Accounts, which got its start here
- And of course, six Game of the Year features were miraculously published on time, each representing hundreds of hours of work
But don't worry: even though this is the end of our tenure here, Silicon Sasquatch isn't going anywhere. We're proud of the work we've done here, and it'll stay up for the foreseeable future.
We leave behind a massive record of our growth as writers, broadcasters and editors. Maybe we'll even be lucky enough to inspire some future generation to stop worrying about the money and just follow their passions. Just because we never made careers out of games writing doesn't mean it wasn't an invaluable experience.
We'd each like to take a moment to say goodbye in our own words. But before that, a note on behalf of all of us:
Thank you for reading, subscribing, commenting, arguing, listening, following, and supporting us over the years. We write because we want to connect with people, and your feedback made these countless hours of work worthwhile.
Thanks for everything.
Life takes many unexpected twists and turns. When I met Aaron in our dorm hall in September 2004 and Nick through a friend in 2005, I never thought that these would become two of my close friends and cohorts in a project like Silicon Sasquatch. When I met Tyler in 1997, I never imagined we'd both move 1/3 of the world away and still be talking about games as we close in on turning 30. And when I first talked to Nick and Aaron about joining their nascent web site, I never could have dreamed it would become the six-year, multi-faceted project we now know and love.
But life does take turns, and sometimes it requires taking an exit and saying goodbye. It's in that spirit I help close the book on Silicon Sasquatch - the work of a group of kids trying to find their voice, both on the written page, in podcasts, and behind the scenes. I've loved putting a lot of time and effort into everything behind the site - racking my brain at coffee shops or on the living room couch for story ideas, coordinating with Nick, Aaron, Tyler and Spencer on group chat to discuss podcast ideas, and always making note of how early in the year somebody brings up the inevitable Game of the Year project. Every time we've taken long breaks from making new content, I've felt horrible and guilty; every time we rallied the band back together, I came back energized and ready to make something new. It all culminated with our 2014 Game of the Year feature, a coda, a wrap on what was our most productive and my favorite year of working on the site.
But not everything can last. With a crew split in three different time zones, it couldn't survive as a regular endeavor. And while we're all very sad about it, more importantly, we're proud. While it started as a "stepping stone" that we could use to much bigger and better-paying gigs writing about games, I realize now more than ever that we did get a big step up from what we put into this site. It didn't lead us to professional work for gaming websites or magazines, but each of us has a much better focus and grasp on where our lives are heading after five-plus years.
Given time to think about Silicon Sasquatch from 2009 to now, I'm proud of how we've grown, how we've found our voices, and how we've developed the ability to do "the hard stuff" involved in running a content-focused web site. For every article and podcast there's a good deal of background planning and editing work to make it happen. I'm proud of all of it, and excited for what's next for our crew. We're putting a bow on this big hairy beast, but there will always be something more.
Aaron - thanks for being the bad guy and a great content king the last few years. It's not an easy job to keep us on task, and I know you didn't always love it. But keep working on your own stuff, too, and please trust in your voice!
Nick - I love your voice, writing style and tastes and appreciate where they overlap and differ. The journey you've gone on the last few years has made me proud because you've lived your dream. Skeal GOTY 20xx.
Spencer - shine on you goddamn crazy diamond. I know life seems to throw you a whole lot of lemons, but I also know you're good enough and smart enough to make an amazing lemon drink out of it someday. (It'll be a lemon drink with booze, natch). We'll get working on that secret stupid project soon.
Tyler - thank you. Always. Just don't be afraid to put thoughts down on paper, okay?
And last but certainly not least: to all of our readers, listeners, family and friends, to everyone who ever told us that you listened, that you liked or hated what we did, who subscribed and supported us: Thank You. The best surprise was always hearing a friend tell me "I saw your article." My dream coming out of high school and entering college was to write about video games. I never turned it into a job, but thanks to this site, I've done that - and we did it our way. It may not have been profitable, but I loved every moment. Thank you.
— Doug Bonham, Editor
See You Next Mission
Silicon Sasquatch is that rare publication that never needed to shut down. After all, it’s pretty cheap to keep a website hosted these days, and there’s no obvious harm being done in leaving the door open to future work.
But Silicon Sasquatch was created for one reason: to help each of us do the work we wanted to do so we could move on to bigger and better things. And that’s why it’s time to say goodbye. After all, without closure, it’s impossible to move on to something new with no regrets.
It’s been comforting having this blog in my life. It gave me a way to feel like I’m working toward something greater, regardless of how my professional and personal life may be faring at the time.
In a strange way, Silicon Sasquatch actually exceeded my greatest hopes. It’s come to represent a massive body of my work, with hundreds of articles written or edited by me, five Game of the Year features and a podcast with more than 50 episodes to its credit. It never got me where I’d originally wanted to go — a byline in Electronic Gaming Monthly, or even an article reprinted on Kill Screen — but somehow those things don’t matter to me like they used to.
What matters is the work we did. And it was good work.
Put another way: I got to live my college dream of being a dedicated games beat writer without having to worry about constant layoffs,industry drama and a rabid (in every sense of the word) audience. Sure, it never paid the bills, and our audience may have been small, but we kept this thing going for six long years. That still surprises me. If there’s ever been a labor of love in my life, it’s this blog.
It’s weird to say goodbye to Silicon Sasquatch because its identity and significance have changed so much over its six-ish years of existence. It’s represented a wide range of things in my own life: a tool for career growth, a management exercise, a thinly veiled excuse to indulge in my worst habits, and a way to stay in touch with friends over the years — time zones be damned.
But it’s gonna be fine. We’re gonna be fine. After thousands of hours of editing each other’s work, weathering critical feedback and surviving the Thunderdome that is our Game of the Year deliberations, we’ve emerged a much stronger group of colleagues and friends. Just because we’re closing the book on this project doesn’t mean we’re done working together.
So what’s next? Well, Silicon Sasquatch isn’t going anywhere. The older I get, the prouder I become of what this blog is; I don’t see any reason to take it offline. Who knows? Maybe someone out there is just dying to read an independent review of The Maw that was written during George W. Bush’s lame-duck period. You never know. So it stays.
As for me: I’m trying something new.
Aaron and I co-founded Silicon Sasquatch in 2008 at a very different period in our lives: fresh out of college, facing dismal job prospects, and harboring a vague desire to make it as professional games writers. Now, several jobs, (and in my case, states) later, we’re both back in Portland and eager to start something new: something that incorporates the lessons we’ve learned from running a publication together, and something that takes advantage of our proximity.
After months of development and preparation, I’m excited to announce that our new project is called The Ludonist. It’s a weekly podcast that focuses on delivering a well-researched and earnest take on the most important issues we’re seeing. It launches today, and we’d love it if you’d come check it out.
One of the great things about Silicon Sasquatch is that it was adaptable. It survived transcontinental moves, career changes, a handful of master’s degrees and even a SQL-injection hack. The credit for that quality goes to this group of people and their shared commitment to making something they could be proud of together. That’s why I’m more excited than ever for the future — I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
Finally, I want to say thanks to everyone who ever followed our site. Knowing that there were people out there who looked forward to reading our work, listening to our shows and sharing with their friends made all this work worth it. Thanks for making it possible for me to moonlight as a games writer.
— Nick Cummings, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Blogs are laughably common, even today, and a constant stream of optimistic people put up shiny, new copies of WordPress — only for them to lose interest within a few weeks.
Or, more realistically, days.
Really, my association with the group started as a series of afterthoughts. Nick needed a warm body for the podcast, and happened to know me. I, unemployed and in a long depressive funk, had nothing better to do. So in late 2009, when Nick first asked me to appear on the Silicon Sasquatch Podcast, I didn’t think much of it — I’d guested on podcasts before. Nor did I consider it of any particular importance when I wrote my first article for the site — indeed, I had done occasional pieces for a friend’s blog here and there.
I didn’t expect that this humble gaming blog would significantly warp the course of my life.
This blog spurred me to write and record and make, more than anything in my life had been able to before. My entire creative output owes its very existence to Silicon Sasquatch: everything I have put into words or committed to tape, every untidy scrawl with which I’ve sullied countless notebook pages, any single thing that came from my head that is good by any meaningful standard. You can see for yourself — over the six-ish years of the blog’s existence, my writing has steadily improved, or at least changed. It was here that I tried my hand at making a different sort of games culture podcast, and while it releases only glacially as I struggle to find new stories, I am nevertheless proud of the result.
My work here has so emboldened me that I have even thrown my hat in the ring for exciting opportunities at large, well-known institutions — and while, naturally, I was not selected for any, prior to Silicon Sasquatch I’d have never tried in the first place.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re headed for bigger and better things. Nick and Aaron are back in Portland, working on their careers and a new podcast. Tyler and Doug are trying to set down roots in Japan — hopefully, they’ll consider a podcast as well, as many would find the expatriate lifestyle a fascinating one. I have every confidence that all of them will continue to impress, though I’m sure they would each contest the point.
As for me, I’m writing this from the basement of my parents’ house. This might seem like a grim sort of end-cap (maybe with explanation, it still is), but it’s not without reason. I’m here finally pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism, hoping to further improve my work and make contacts in the industry.
My life’s present trajectory is the result of a little games blog started in 2008. I don’t think there’s any clearer way to show what Silicon Sasquatch has meant to me.
— Spencer Tordoff, Editor and Producer
In With a Whimper, Out With a Bang
I put this goodbye on hold for as long as I could, just short of delaying the entire post—which more or less sums up my career writing for Silicon Sasquatch!
I'm only slightly joking.
The reason I've had a hard time formulating words for our final transmission is because I don't want to say goodbye. I really don't. If I let myself, I'd aimlessly plug away at this beautiful mess of a blog to continue fixing it in perpetuity. Just as I naively believed this project would become the end-all, be-all games website from our launch day (December 20, 2008), nearly seven years on I still think we can build a traffic-driving brand and make a living covering games. But we can't; more accurately, I can't—not in the way I expected to when Silicon Sasquatch started, anyway.
When Electronic Gaming Monthly, my standard-bearer for fun and fascinating games writing, shutdown mere months into our website's existence, it should have told me we were going to have a rough go of things. I idolized it and the games journalism of the 1990s and early 2000s, and not because I thought a career covering video games was cool and a way to get out of a real job. Rather, I (secretly) saw myself bringing real journalistic ethics and style to an industry that seemed to write too much about the glamor, flash and swag shoveled by game publishers on a daily basis. One of the reasons I studied journalism was to help me become a damn good games reporter. I wanted to be the Gay Talese (writer of the legendary piece "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold") of games journalism. And for a long time I silently blamed our team's lack of success, however I defined that at the any given time, on "the market" or "gamers" themselves—that they just didn't "get" what we were doing. I realize now, after countless heartfelt discussions about the organization's direction and purpose, that it was unfair to hold anyone but myself responsible for what I expected to achieve with Silicon Sasqatch. We were never built to be a professional (read: revenue-generating) business venture, which is perfectly OK! It just took the reality of discussing our end to understand our limitations, and to accept them. I only wish I'd realized it sooner.
But never say we didn't accomplish a lot together since 12/20/2008:
We launched two podcasts, we posted nearly 600 articles, we ran social media campaigns, we learned about SEO and marketing, we honed our Photoshop skills, we were reblogged by game developers, we figured out CSS and HTML, we interviewed people (a big deal for socially awkward young men), we dabbled in livestreaming and, most importantly, we honed our writing and editing skills to a razor-sharp point. I know I'm a better creator and storyteller than I was in 2008. I also have Nick, Doug, Spencer and Tyler to eternally thank for giving me confidence and crash course after crash course in management and conflict resolution. We're all closer friends than when we began Silicon Sasquatch, and I'd wager we're also better partners to the coworkers in our daily lives.
I'll miss this site. I'll miss wrangling a bunch of opinionated writers together to focus disparate ideas and visions into a polished end product. I'll always be the enthusiastic cheerleader for what we did and how we cared enough to keep it up for nearly seven years. All good things must come to an end, but it's better to end on a mutually positive note than let things wither and die on the vine.
It was mentioned in Nick's farewell, but we just launched The Ludonisttoday. It's a weekly games podcast hosted by Nick and yours truly, and we're beyond excited to continue the Sasquatch legacy together. I'd love it if you gave us a listen!
Nick and I co-founded Silicon Sasquatch (and later recruited our cohorts) on the hopes that we'd create media about games we'd be proud to share with family, friends and strangers alike. We start The Ludonist with the same hopes, but also with the backing of seven eventful years of successes and failures to guide us. We'll still make mistakes, and we still have a lot to learn, but we're ready to move upward and onward. Don't be a stranger, OK? Come say hi at the website, and before you leave this post, pour a cold one out for Silicon Sasquatch—may it forever roam the digital forests in peace.
Thank you for reading this post and for supporting us since 2008. Without readers like you, we'd never have mustered the confidence to believe in ourselves. Cheers!
— Aaron Thayer, Co-Founder and Managing Editor