We Wished It Would Never End: A Joystiq Obituary

It's been two months since the untimely demise of Joystiq. It's difficult to believe. Not a day goes by that we don't still feel the loss. For a while the misery was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the site remained accessible. The staff had gone but a few of us faithful community members were keeping hope alive, still carrying on conversations in the comments section weeks after the final goodbye went up (you can still view them here). We didn't want to let go. We didn't want to face the cold reality that the site no longer served any real purpose; and unfortunately, a site without a purpose is not long for the world wide web. The site itself was taken down on March 17th. It was a dark day indeed.
There is a silver lining, however. The name, two former staff members, and seemingly all of the articles (minus the comments) found a new home over at Joystiq X Engadget. As of right now, there doesn't seem to be any way to access the old weblog, but you can search for articles individually or by the author. It's comforting to know that a piece of Joystiq will live on at Engadget. We wish Jessica Conditt and Anthony John Agnello the very best of luck there and will continue to follow their careers and their work with great interest and enthusiasm. Similarly, we wish the rest of the former crew well with whatever they end up doing  (there have been rumors of GamesRadar). Wherever they land, we will be following all of them intently on twitter.

Even though the staff already said goodbye during their final days at Joystiq, it feels like there needs to be some sort of closure now that the site itself is gone. We here at Twinstiq wanted to take a moment to say our goodbyes to Joystiq. Twinstiq wouldn't exist without Joystiq. It really meant a lot to all of us. In addition, we have also been fortunate enough to receive some additional thoughts from a few of the former Joystiq staff members. So, without further ado, we proudly present our Joystiq obituary.

  • Cody Hall (@Yoda0VGs): "I don't have the words..."
  • Jimmy Vegas (@JimmyPhantom17): "I read it for 7 years, and it's sad to see it go. I had a bit of an obsession reading it every day."
  • Billy Colley (@Amuntoth): "Joystiq brought me much of my gaming news. Though I lurked more than I posted it is a piece of gaming history that I will miss, and a community that I hope to see migrate. To all those who lost an internet home in Joystiq: I feel your pain."
  • John Rausch (@visitzebes): "When Joystiq closed I lost my most trusted insight into the video game industry but the Super Joystiq Podcast was a weekly highlight for me. I listened to that podcast nearly every week for more than 3 years. I got a deep sense that these were individuals that really loved what they did and were fairly humble about it."
  • Jye Cauffle: "Joystiq was my #1 destination for news, but mostly the comments for the community engaged me. It's hard to find something like that and it's not something you can try and create on purpose, but we were all lucky to be caught up in it, and I'm sure the Joystiq staff felt lucky to steward such a vehicle for thoughtful and insightful community involvement. Hopefully the right ingredients and fate help Twinstiq bring that magic back."
  • Trisha Baumgartner: "I was a quiet fan, not big into commenting, but waking up and seeing joystiq on my phone bringing me news from everywhere. It didn't seem like a day off unless I was able to read a few articles on my tablet or phone while sipping coffee. Commenting was never a big area for me, I was one of the quiet readers that read articles and dreamed about visiting the same shows they did and possibly one day being able to do the same PR work they did. I'm not much for talking about the bad things, joystiq was a big part of my life for a long time."
  • Greywolfe (@lostwolfe): "I want to thank the writers for all the amazing articles.  The thoughtful way in which they tackled stories was often a breath of fresh air and gave games writing something to aspire to:  a sort of pure voice in amongst all the pr speak and the noise of release schedules and the loudness of by-the-numbers reviews.

    I also want to thank the readers and commentors for making Joystiq the most awesome place to hang out.  WRUP and some of the "non-game" articles were always fun to hang out in just to see who'd show up and see what they'd add to the conversation.  Did we disagree?  Sure.  But /most/ of our comment threads were "reasonably civil" [to a degree] and we all ended up having a good time.
    "

  • Andrew J Amideo (@Andoru36): "For me, Joystiq was a way of accessing the pulse of the gaming world. It was how I stayed invested and connected to gaming culture. It was a vibrant community. Somewhere I belonged. Somewhere I could go to vent about the latest outrage in the industry or geek out about the awesome new game or content that was coming.

    I'll admit I had my ups and downs in those comment sections. Most days I was level-headed and friendly. Occasionally I behaved a bit trollish. I didn't always agree with some of the staff members or other commenters, but they always felt like family. There seldom was a day that I would let pass by without pulling up the site to check out the latest news and conversations.

    The closure of Joystiq left a gaping video-game-shaped hole in the internet, and in my heart. My sincere hope is what we are doing here at Twinstiq will help to serve as a sort of makeshift bandage that we can use to repair some of the damage. I know it will never be as good as before, but maybe it could be just enough."

  • Thomas Ortsik (@Dr Strangethumb): "No idea where to begin with this. Joystiq…

    J for the joy you brought me. O for the o in joy, which is very important, because otherwise it would be just jy (and that gets a red scribble in MS Word, so it can’t be right). Y for y were shut down by AOL. S for Stiq, which is the second part in Joystiq. T for this is going really nowhere. I for I’m way too stupid for writing something tasteful about this. Q for questioning my sanity, which you probably do right now.

    Seriously: I have no idea what I should write about this. I’ve lurked on the site until it went offline. Not just to advertise Twinstiq, but because I wasn’t really able to let it go. When I stopped working as an editor for nextgen.at, Joystiq became my most viewed site. Funny that about 5 years later and thanks to the Stiq, I’m back at it again. 

    As much as I would like to distance myself from the “gamer” stereotype, I am one through and through. Joystiq was my go-to place for anything related to it, so it should be fairly clear what a hole their shutdown left in my life. I especially miss the community that brought us some of the best in intended comedy (like X-Cop) and unintended (not going to name anyone, but we all know someone). A community that, at least for the most part, managed to stay calm in the face of gaming’s civil war. A community that at times felt like family and just like family, you loved them even though you sometimes disagreed. By the way: Yes. This includes the Joystiq staff, which didn’t shy away from getting their hands dirty in the comments.

    It was not just a bunch of consumers, hell no; it was a vocal community about sharing opinions with such fervor, that its reaction to the shutdown was creating a new site. Sure, we managed to provide a new battleground for some of its most active members, but it’s going to be a long way until we can emulate that experience here at Twinstiq and it will never be the same for me. So yeah, that’s probably the part I miss most. Wow, didn’t think I could get anything besides gibberish out of me today.

    One more thing: Thanks to everyone who ever worked at Joystiq. Whenever I talked with one of you about Twinstiq, you were freaking awesome and supportive. Sam, who wrote our first Weekly Webcomic Wrapup (love you, man!); Thomas, who actually showed up in our comments; Mike, who is already a fixture in the WRUP; Richard, who hopefully becomes one; Anthony, who graciously looks away whenever I spam his streams; Susan, who is always a pleasure to talk with, even when she’s probably pissed at me :D Justin McElroy, who not only was the first to provide some lines for this, but who also was the reason I got stuck at Joystiq; Mike Schramm, who probably never even heard of us, yet wrote up this piece (somewhere below me), no questions asked; Chris Grant, who didn’t actually get back to me about this, but still deserves some recognition for being the leading man during what I feel was the golden age of Joystiq; Ludwig, Xav, Alexander, Sinan, Danny, Jess, and yes, even you Earnest.

    I think I speak for everyone here when I say: We love you!
    "

  • Justin McElroy (@JustinMcElroy): "If it weren’t for Joystiq, I wouldn’t have a career. It’s hard for me to see it as a site though, for me, it will always be a collection of people. The writers of Joystiq were hard working, fiercely honest, kind and hysterical. The line I always heard repeated was if you want to find a Joystiq writer at an industry party, look for the person huddled in the corner, balancing the laptop on their knees and banging out a post. I will miss the site terribly, but I’ll never let go of the people it brought into my life."

  • Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt): "Most gaming sites have some kind of online chat room that allows the various members of the team to coordinate content and generally be in touch with each other. Instead of sending a bunch of emails, you just hash it out in chat. It streamlines communication and is the next best thing to actually being able to just walk up to someone and ask them whatever you need to know. The chat room was even more important at Joystiq, because we were rarely in the same *state* as each other, let alone the same room.

    When I first joined Joystiq, there wasn't much chat in the chat room. News stories got called, facts got checked, headlines got hashed out, but there wasn't a whole lot of socializing. I had just come from an office environment where I could actually see people every day, so the silence was particularly deafening for me. I tried to work my way into this staff that was super tight and had known each other for years. I felt awkward and strange.

    I gradually got to know everyone and brought on new team members. We became the group that would close out the site in February 2015. And the chat room filled up with everyday gossip and chatter, from where to get the best burritos to how to respond to hate mail to game analysis and financial advice. But mostly we laughed. We had our own running gags and memes, some of which carried over into the podcast and livestream. We laughed 
    *so much*. We could laugh together because we knew we could trust each other. We didn't have to have our guards up because we knew that we all had each other's backs. Always.

    It's unusual for an entire staff to be 
    *that* tight. At least, in my experience. Sure, you've always got a few folks that you're close with, but for it to be everyone? Yeah, I've never had that before, and likely never will again. I miss Joystiq terribly. I miss the work, which I loved doing, and I miss the audience, who was really fun to hang out with, but mostly, I miss those people in the chat room. I miss being around them every single day. They're my family, and I love them."

  • Mike Schramm (@mikeschramm): "My favorite Joystiq memory is the tale of the Burrito of Fate. It was so much fun to wander around E3 with the team, and go to that party with the great Richard Mitchell, talk about a game that was really just a thought in a developer's mind (and, to be honest, never actually came out), and then experience the confluence of that party and that burrito truck. Richard and I had a great time going after the interview during E3, rubbing shoulders with the industry at that party, and then eating that terrific, legendary burrito. It was so nice, too, to come back to the hotel, see Chris, Luddy and Justin recording that podcast, and have them call me over to tell the story right there, with all of them laughing along as well.

    Chris Grant told me once that he was enormously proud of the team he'd assembled at Joystiq, and I am proud of all of them as well, both the folks he assembled and those that joined the group after he went off to Polygon. I admit that I was probably never a central figure on Joystiq, as my time was always split working on WoW Insider and TUAW as well (also both great teams in their own right). But man, to a person, everyone who worked on Joystiq worked tirelessly for the site and did it with such aplomb and talent that I couldn't help be in awe of them even while I was joining them for the morning meetings at E3, carpooling with them to an event in San Francisco, or just logging into our group chat to work on stories every day.

    The Burrito of Fate isn't just a fun tale where I get to eat a burrito, either. It's also a great example of what I think Joystiq did so well: Those very talented writers constantly and proudly brought what it was like to be in the video game industry right back to anyone who pulled up the site to read it. Even if you were just a little fat kid in suburban St. Louis who liked video games (as I was when I first started reading the site), you could log on to 
    Joystiq.com and feel like you belonged, like you were part of a bigger culture, and like you had your own advocates in the industry telling you everything you needed to know. Those advocates were funny and thoughtful, they were intelligent and enthusiastic, and they were up at all hours of the day, delivering videos and galleries and great pieces and terrific interviews to you wherever you were. I'm so proud to have been a part of that. To a person, the Joystiq crew were all just great writers and editors who made all of our readers feel like they were insiders with every post, every day, without fail, for so long. So many people in the world never got to go to E3, or play games for previews, or visit Titmouse Studios and eat the Burrito of Fate, but I did, and it was an honor to be able to share that story and all of the other great stories with Joystiq readers over the years through that site."

Anything you would like to add? Maybe an experience to share, maybe your feelings about the site being gone? Leave us a comment.

[Picture: Joystiq x Engadget]