USgamer Staff Past and Present Say Goodbye

With USgamer ceasing publication today, we invited team members past and present to say a few final words about the site they helped to build over the course of seven years. Here’s what they had to say.

I remember lobbying hard to work at USgamer. I also remember the fear and trepidation talking to site founder Jaz Rignall about the potential job offer. That was the moment where writing about games went from a part-time job to a full-time career. It was also the moment where I switched from business reporting to working on the consumer side.

USgamer forged me as a writer, to be honest. Under the editorship of Jaz, Jeremy, and eventually Kat, I took chances in my work. I strove to bring clear, concise, and honest reviews to everyone. And I told you like it was, to the best of my ability, highlighting the excellent work within the gaming industry, and the people behind that work. I’m sad to see the team we built torn apart, but I’m hopeful each and every one of the fantastic people I worked with goes onto bigger and better things.

I will miss you USG.

I was pushed away from the womb a week ago, so I already had a chance to spill my guts about the end of USgamer. For those of you about to rock unemployment, here’s a spoiler from the future: I’m still kind of aimless for now. But I’ll find my feet, and so will you!

I’m ready to wander the freelance circuit again—as you might (hopefully) know by now, Kat and I are taking Axe of the Blood God away from USgamer and starting down the road with it in tow. It’s exciting to be able to potentially turn Axe of the Blood God into something even bigger and better; before I started at USgamer, I had no idea I had any kind of appeal as a podcaster. USgamer taught me what I was capable of, and it taught me a lot more, too. I’ll miss it mightily. I’ll keep my co-workers and my experiences here close to my heart for years to come. I hope you continue to follow and support USgamer’s staff as everyone moves on to new things-and I hope you accompany Kat and I on our next adventure.

Keep playing video games, keep loving ’em, but for God’s sake, don’t get mired too thoroughly in the discourse muck. Some day you’re going to die and God will make you look back on those empty-headed Twitter threads you spent hundreds of hours browsing in some misguided, fruitless hope to change minds.

USgamer was my first real job in the games industry. I had been freelancing for around a year by that point, picking up a few hundred bucks every now and then to help keep my head above water. When the job offer came through, I was at a point where I probably only had a month left in me as a writer. All of a sudden my luck had turned, I had actually managed to bloody do it. Working with Hirun Cryer and Tom Orry in the UK, I couldn’t wait to get into work every day. After a couple of years working call centers, kitchens and even unpaid writing gigs, I genuinely couldn’t believe that I loved my job that much.

The site changed drastically over the two years I was there. The team, made up of some of the most talented in all of games writing, got more focused, and strengthened into one hell of an editorial powerhouse. Kat Bailey and Tom Orry taught me basically everything I know, though to be honest, everyone on the team managed to bleed permanently into my writing style. In many ways I feel like I’m just getting started in this line of work, in others I feel I’ve peaked. Will I ever have a job I cared about as much as USG again? Will I ever beat being able to chat with Kat, Mat, Eric, Nadia, Mike, Caty, Hirun, Tom and Joel everyday? I’m hopeful, but it seems unlikely.

USG’s the site that took me from being a “writer who weighs in on games” to an actual part of this industry, and I’ll always have to thank it (and Kat in particular) for that. It was a pretty great place to land, too, as you don’t need to look terribly hard to find stories of people who wanted so badly to write about games and got horribly taken advantage of in the process. Even on the hardest days here, it was always a relief to know that this place cares about good writing and the people who do it. It was also nice knowing that readers saw the site that way. If this goes down as my one job in the games industry, it was a nice one. Tremendous gratitude to all the writers and editors helped build this place before my arrival, and more still to those who made it a fine place to be while I was here.

I can’t believe how lost I was when I joined USgamer. Unlike most of my peers, I didn’t intend to write about games or anything else. I fell into this business and carved out a role writing guides and putting SEO above all. I was accidentally good at it in the beginning, and thanks to Jeremy Parish and John Benyamine, I was given an opportunity I probably hadn’t earned.

Jeremy, Kat, Mike, Jaz, and Nadia welcomed me into the USG family and treated me like I belonged. I wasn’t the most social person, but I was always reading their work and learning. I was becoming more aware of their talent every day and have only gained appreciation for it in the years since I left. Each one of them helped me get better, and I am forever grateful for that.

I think there’s a part of me that’ll always be with USgamer now. It’s part of my DNA—even as I move to new places and try new things, I’ll still be “a writer for USG”, but one who just happens to be somewhere else for the time being. That’s because I never found a job and a team more worthy and so dear to me, and I doubt I ever will. It’s a bleak fact that it all has to stop here, but I like to think the work we did will last and be remembered. Even now, I have friends message me to tell me they found a guide or feature I wrote while they were hunting around online. It gives me hope that USG isn’t really over, only resting, and the great work we did will last long after we stop adding to it. If there was ever any site that deserved to last and live, it was this one.

I joined USG bang on the launch of the Nintendo Switch back in 2017. I’ll forever be grateful for the job as it came during one of the lowest points of my life, but I’ll also look back with pride at the contribution I made to building one of the most diverse and brilliant editorial teams in the industry. USG changed a lot over the years, but I saw it become one of the best publications on the internet, giving a platform to hugely talented writers. As with many great things, you only really realise what you had when it’s gone. USG had a whole lot of greatness and I’ll miss it and everyone a lot.

This is a story I tell quite often, but it’s fitting to share with you all here. In 2017 I was living in San Francisco having moved there for a job that I had just been laid off from. Burning through my savings, I had about two weeks or so before it was time for me to pack up and move back with my parents. It was right around then that Kat emailed me out of the blue offering me a job.

It turned out to be literally life-changing. To be able to work and help build USG with amazing people and bunker in the trenches together is something I’ll never forget. And not to sugarcoat anything, but it’s a tragedy that it will end like this. But if anything we did here affected you in some way, my journey through USG will have been worth it.

I have to admit it’s been more than a little depressing to see the games press constantly contract since the day I took a big risk by moving to the Bay Area a decade ago. In just ten short years, the rest of the remaining magazines have been completely wiped out, and the many websites I used to visit have been whittled down to just a few—and unfortunately, USgamer is yet another unnecessary casualty. And that’s exactly why I treasure my relatively short two-and-a-half years there; my time at USgamer was basically an extension of my work at 1UP. I had the incredible luck to not just find myself in an industry with so few openings, but also to create content for a website where I had nearly unlimited creative freedom.

Thanks to USgamer, I was able to meet all of my personal goals in the games press and feel confident enough to branch out into being a full-time self-employed podcaster, which I’ve been able to do for three-and-a-half years now. Sure, maybe all this creative freedom means I’ll never be able to hold down a “normal” job, but my life would feel incomplete if more than eight percent of the strangers I met actually understood my line of work.

I have complicated feelings about USgamer, and I’m pretty angry to see it shuttered so unceremoniously. But I guess that’s par for the course in games media these days, huh? One thing is certain, though: The team behind the site has never been anything less than fantastic. Where else could I find myself following in the steps of an industry legend like Jaz Rignall, before passing the EIC baton to an up-and-coming legend like Kat Bailey? At every level, the writers who powered USgamer regularly served up some of the smartest, most meaningful writing about video games to be found—despite an alarming lack of resources, and despite dizzying shifts in strategic direction from on high on what seemed like a monthly basis at times. The industry is poorer for the site’s loss.

I’m really sad to see USgamer close down. Launched in March of 2013, it evolved into a really interesting content destination that covered video games very much from an enthusiast’s perspective. From its very personal reviews to its in-depth articles that showcased each writer’s passions and areas of expertise, the site featured fascinating takes on video games that were unique and different. I always had tremendous fun writing for USgamer and remember my time with the team very fondly. The site’s closure leaves a hole in gaming coverage that will be difficult to fill.

I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in the games press when Jeremy Parish approached me with a job offer back in 2014. The hours were long, the pay was kind of lousy, and video game journalism was a field that was very much in transition (still is, really). What ultimately convinced me to stay, apart from Jeremy’s cajoling and the promise of a steady paycheck, was the conviction that I hadn’t yet done my best work as a journalist. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

When Jeremy later handed me the reins in 2017, I mostly just didn’t want to let him down. Thankfully, with the help of USgamer’s incredibly dedicated editorial team, I think we were able to do right by the site’s legacy. I know that my own career has grown immeasurably thanks to USG, and it’s left me with plenty of fond memories, like that one time Nadia and I crammed ourselves in a coat closet to record the 200th episode of Axe of the Blood God.

Our reviews, features, essays, and guides will remain after we’re gone, a testament to how hard the USG staff worked over the past seven years to make the site great. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them. Farewell.

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