Late in 2008, when I was a fresh face in college and ready to learn of the world, I found an article articulating the comparability of Guitar Hero and Rock Band instruments. I returned to this article often, because it was the only one like it. It had every system, every game, every controller, and it cross referenced them all by the binary switch of 'works' and 'doesn't work.
It was a work of art that could only represent one group of people.
This was Joystiq.
This one article is how I found my way to AOL's former gaming blog. I was much more into gaming at the time, because I didn't have responsibilities, and the website was a god send. I learned so much about everything that was going on. I learned about companies, developers, publishers, and any other jargon involved in the gaming industry. Joystiq is where I became a gamer, proper. I would have missed the whole gaming world without them, but also much more.
Joystiq introduced me to myself. No joke, without Joystiq I wouldn't be who I am today, not by a long shot. I wouldn't use twitter, watch YouTube videos, watch live streams, listen to podcasts. I wouldn't be a mature adult who learned how to love and respect others. I wouldn't be as balanced or as happy as I have been without Joystiq. I wouldn't be me, I wouldn't know what I know today, and I would be a far less intelligent individual.
Joystiq taught me how to think about video games, and what sorts of critiques and discussions were worth having. Transitioning from 'this game is cool' to 'this game is art' was a very important time for me. Before that realization, I singled myself out often. I thought of books, video games, and movies as objects of critical observation, and I felt alone. So many conversations ended with "cool shit happens, and that's why I like it." Joystiq, and the Joystiq Podcast, taught me that there were others like me, and that my views alone were very childish anyway.
Chris Grant, Ludwig Kietzmann, and Justin McElroy were the stars of the Joystiq Podcast back then, a show that got rolling in 2007. Grant was a the Editor-In-Chief at the time, Ludwig had some stance as a full-timer for the site, and Justin was a freelancer who the other two happened to like. All three of these men are fantastic, and their voices and actions rock echos through the industry, but Justin is a personal hero of mine.
Justin McElroy has carried me to where I am today. He doesn't know it, and probably never will, but he's sculpted who I've become. His words and wisdom, often born from jest, ring true to me. He's not a malicious man, he's often just a lover of art and respect. He started a half dozen podcasts on his own, but The Joystiq Podcast will always have a special hole as my first podcast. I had no idea what a pocast was, and I had no idea that they were so long. I just downloaded it and started listening. Once I saw the time, it was by pure will alone that I finished.
My Brother, My Brother, and Me, Sawbones, The Adventure Zone, and Quality Control are Justin's current podcasts, but he's started and ended a dozen more. Each one feels like a different part of me, each show is something I've learned to love or understand. Without these shows, I wouldn't know as much and I wouldn't be as accepting or intelligent.
Justin also brought me to another one of my personal heroes: Jesse Thorn. I've actually written to Jesse once to tell him how he's affected me, and I think his response was: Thanks so much, I'm happy that our bullshit helped you! Jesse Thorn is the head runner of Maximum Fun, a network of podcasts (which is home to several of Justin's shows.) Maximum Fun is a media and culture hub that I think doesn't get enough respect or observation. Every show on Maximum Fun is worth a listen and they run the gamut from intense song deconstruction to dick jokes.
Jesse, though, is a very nice and loving man. Many of his decisions are based on "how can I make the world better?" He's corrected my course a number of times and many of his personal stories and messages align with my own. He's a daily inspiration, and an honest and true representation of what we can do when we believe in something.
I started this post about Joystiq, a fantastic and dead website, but we arrived at a very different place. That's sort of what my time with Joystiq has been like. In my life, I started at Joystiq, but I left to grow, coming back every now and again to see something new or different. The last few years I didn't read Joystiq much, but they'll always be a special part of history and a special part of me.