Happy 10th Anniversary, Us!
Ten years ago today, Silicon Sasquatch posted its first article. You can still view Nick's inaugural "This week in music gaming" on our original WordPress domain.
Wow. We've been at this shit for a decade!
Since that first post, we: wrote a book; launched three podcasts; hosted severaltalentedcontributors, interviewed some of our favoritegamedevelopers; wrestled back control of our WordPress installation from (presumably) Russian hackers; ceased publication not once, not twice, but thrice; and, perhaps most notably, posted nine Game of the Year features comprising hundreds of hours of unpaid work entirely fueled by our love of the medium and a dark desire to yell at each other.
Five years ago today we posted "The 5th Anniversarycast." Nick, Doug, Spencer, and I talked about our strange-yet-rewarding five-year foray into independent games journalism. We discussed the birth of Silicon Sasquatch, to which Nick memorably said: "Like all bad ideas, it came from World of Warcraft."
It's a lovely retrospective chat, and I recommend you listen to it.
Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to quote myself a bit for the remainder of this celebration. Marquee anniversaries like this rarely happen, which says a lot about our perseverance and outright stubbornness. A little self-indulgence is allowed!
The two excerpts below were written in April 2015, when we shut down the blog, and in September 2016, which was my first article after ceasing publication. Reading my own words again, I now realize I never wanted to stop Silicon Sasquatch. In the intervening year-and-a-half, the blog was never far away from my mind. My farewell reads less like an epilogue and more like a preface to our next chapter:
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. And for a long time I silently blamed our team's lack of success, however I defined that at 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 Sasquatch. 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.
— "So Long" That doesn't sound like someone ready to quit. If anything, it took the presumed end of the blog to acknowledge our potential. I belatedly came to love Silicon Sasquatch more once I stopped living the fantasy of "professional games journalist."
When I wrote my first piece after hiatus, I easily explained what I missed most:
...My own reasons [for returning] aren’t complicated. I missed writing. I missed creating. My day job is filled with challenges and problem solving and has flexed career muscles I didn’t think I had, but it’s not “writing” in a pure sense. After we stopped the blog I earned a master’s degree in professional and technical writing, and I’m thankful my work affords me the opportunity to pursue that as a career. It just doesn’t scratch every creative itch I have. And, after talking about it with the staff, it seemed like many of us missed the act of creation, too.
— "Why I Reinstalled World of Warcraft Even Though I Mostly Have My Shit Together" So here we are, a decade after we began. We quit three times, yet we're still standing.
We all have full-time jobs. Two of us are married. One’s a homeowner. One got his master's degree while another finally got his bachelor's. Some of us were laid-off within the last year, while one of us took big steps toward his dream career. We've each experienced tragedy and triumph since December 20, 2008. Through all of life's turns, we've had this site: our reason to talk about games, and, on occasion, to write about them.
Maybe we don't always give the blog our best effort. I know I haven't. Even so, it continues to bring five opinionated, wholly different people together on a daily basis. Nick and I started this venture as schoolmates. Later, I'd think of us as coworkers. Eventually, we became friends. I knew Doug from the dorms, but I don't think I truly understood and appreciated him until we worked together. And over the last 10 years I've built important friendships with Spencer and Tyler, who I've only seen in person a handful of times.
Games were our shared interest and the glue that first bound us together. Initially, we respected each other as creators. Eventually, we respected each other as friends.
That's not to say we don't fight or argue. We're our own strange little family, and families fight. But rather than simply endure each other, or walk away entirely, we keep choosing to work on this blog, together—for free.
Like with any family, it's difficult to predict how each of us will grow and change over the next 10 years. Even if Silicon Sasquatch doesn't survive, and there's not a 15th or 20th anniversary post following this one, I'm beyond proud that we've made it this far.
Happy 10th anniversary to us!
— Aaron Thayer, Co-Founder and Managing Editor
It’s amazing how much impact an orange sasquatch can have.
We are not, and have never been, a for-profit enterprise. The work we publish is the work we want to create.
That said, it’s validating when people engage with and enjoy our content. I’m always flattered when friends and colleagues say they’ve checked us out, or that they’ve enjoyed something we wrote or recorded. We recently dropped a short teaser on Twitter ahead of our 2018 Game of the Year feature which still elicited engagement from friends. As a writer—especially for a small, very independent blog which hasn’t been updated consistently over the past year—that validation means the world.
Writing and creating articles may not be my day job, but it remains one of my passions. My journalism degree didn’t lead to that Electronic Gaming Monthly dream job I had in high school, but it proved incredibly useful as a graduate student (synthesizing complex ideas quickly!), teacher (writing really fast on deadline!), and professional (both of those things!).
Having an education that crafted my critical eye for quality reporting and news coverage is germane to living in the charred husk that we call the post-2016 media landscape. And, hey, having an eye for layout always helps my PowerPoint decks!
The reason I’m still writing for Silicon Sasquatch is the connection I share with my fellow editors. While it’s hard to remember specific stories or articles from the first few years, I do remember the joy of logging on between classes to edit a Backlog and publish that sucker.
As I was learning how to be a better middle manager, I embraced my dirt bag journalist roots as a part-time blogger who viewed issues through a political lens. The creative work, all that running with silly ideas and pushing one another to work harder and break through barriers, sticks out more than any particular story.
Of most importance to me is the creation of our own group chat under the guise of running a blog about games. (Or as we frequently remind ourselves in Slack, we created the world’s least-funded think tank.) Is there a new game coming out? A hot game’s on sale? Did you get a job, lose a job, or want to leave a job? Want to spin the wheel on Slack’s
/giphy randomizer or drop a tweet from @dasharez0ne? We discuss or do all of these things on a weekly basis.
Because we chat every day, I get in touch with Nick and Aaron when I’m visiting Portland. I’m planning on catching up with Tyler in Australia. And, eventually, I’ll make it to Spencer’s god-dang LAN party in Seattle and share Japanese whisky.
Just like working out, going on a diet, or righting all of the past year’s wrongs, my New Year’s resolution is always to write more. Easier said than done. But maybe I’ll do it next year; creating something is rewarding regardless of the size of the audience.
Even if Silicon Sasquatch remains a tiny blog we dust off once a year for GOTY, it’s still my cherished equivalent to the annual fishing trip my father took with his friends—something discussed, planned, and eagerly anticipated with a group of your closest friends on this planet.
Long may our web server live, and may it be free from Russian hackers!
— Doug Bonham, Senior Editor
The past decade has been kind of a mess. Like, for everyone, y'know? Not just me and mine. But I think that's what happens when the world is transitioning rapidly from one thing to something else altogether. So we hitch ourselves to whatever's sturdy enough, hope the rope holds, and keep living our lives, always mindful of the tethers we rely on.
Aaron and Doug both alluded to wanting to build something akin to Electronic Gaming Monthly, a publication of worth and an original voice that helps push the dialogue around games forward and upward to something more inclusive, something more cogent—something better. For me, for a while, that was also the goal.
I've said goodbye to plenty of important things behind over the past decade: Homes, cities, promising career paths, significant others, creative partners, major life plans, opportunities. And along the way, at a point I really can't nail down, I decided I'd be okay with giving up on writing professionally about games.
So why didn't I ever walk away from Silicon Sasquatch?
Believe me, I tried. I wanted to. Honestly, I put off writing these words you're reading right now until minutes before our publishing deadline. Like Aaron said, the folks who comprise this blog are more than peers—they're a kind of family to me—and like with any family, sometimes it's complicated. And I don't know that I've taken the time to interrogate what Silicon Sasquatch means to me, now, in 2018, 10 years after its creation.
My memory is pretty spotty in general, but I remember exactly where I was 10 years ago, almost to the hour. I was snowed in at a strange little pizza place somewhere in Eugene, Oregon, killing a few hours while I waited for a ride home. I had my laptop (a 2006 MacBook, may it rest in peace) and some time to kill. So I decided to write something for this blog idea Aaron and I'd been kicking around. I wrote it, but more importantly, I published it.
That was something like 700 articles ago.
Ten years ago, I was 22, a recent graduate with a Journalism degree, and in desperate need of validation. Today, I'm 32. I'm a software developer with half a decade of professional experience, and I'm inching ever closer to this dream of professional game development that I haven't been able to shake off for my entire life, despite decades of convincing myself it wasn't possible. Ten years ago, I had to ask my roommate for help installing WordPress on the server space I was renting from him. Today, I could design, develop, and host an entire CMS if I wanted to. (I really don't.) A lot's changed.
But y'all. I still love writing about games.
For better or worse, games are the touchstone of my life. My earliest memories are of playing games with my parents. The margins of my notebooks from elementary school look just like the margins of my work notes: scattered with level designs, game ideas, sketches of characters and items. I can't stop thinking about this stuff. I don't know what it would do to me if I tried.
I feel qualified after 10 years of doing this to say that it's always been really tough running a blog, but it's much harder in 2018 than it was before. The irony of social media is that, despite sharing becoming ostensibly easier, it's so much harder to connect directly with another person than it used to be. But I care a lot about the work we do here. I think it's good work. Some of it's even great. And every time anyone's ever told me that they enjoyed an article we wrote, or a podcast we recorded, or sought to debate me over our Game of the Year lists, it's warmed my heart—because that means we connected.
So thank you for being a part of this. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm still gonna wanna write, and I'm still gonna be playing and thinking about games a whole lot. And I hope you'll stay in touch.
— Nick Cummings, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief