"We'll meet again. Don't know where, don't know when. But I know we'll meet again some sunny day!"
Moments ago, I finished watching the final episode of The Colbert Report, and it seemed fitting to head upstairs, pour some scotch, sit down, and write my final post for Giant Bomb. This, my friends, is it.
Spoiler alert: my last day at Giant Bomb was, in reality, a few weeks ago. December 19, to be exact. I wanted to say something at the time, but due to reasons neither exciting nor very interesting, I had to sit on the news. It won't be the last time I'm on the couch with Jeff and company, there's no doubt of that. There are PAXs and GDCs and E3s to be attended, malort to be drunk, and I'll be happy to stop by.
But today officially marks the end of my time at the website that's brought me so much.
I worked at many places before arriving at Giant Bomb. 1UP, MTV News, G4, EGM. There's a good chance I'm missing a website or two. Until Giant Bomb, I held a devil-may-care attitude about my employment, and no place kept my attention very long. (To be fair, MTV laid me off because of the 2008 financial crisis, but let me have a moment!). It's not to suggest I've never cared about my work before Giant Bomb, but I never loved where I worked until strolling into the Whiskey Media offices back in 2011.
I don't remember being nervous, but I do remember not knowing what to expect.
On my first week, I wanted to make a splash, and throw down my journalistic calling card. It was, ostensibly (!!!), the reason I was hired, after all. I'd been sitting on a Guitar Hero story for a little while, but our entire network of sites went down, due to some Amazon service outage. I joked about publishing the breaking news on a public Google document, as the prospect of another outlet being forced to link to a Google doc made me laugh. The joke quickly turned into reality, and everyone told me to publish. So I did, and it later showed up on Kotaku and other publications. What the hell was going on? I was home.
Let's rewind a little, though.
Prior to Giant Bomb, I was working at the rebooted EGM. I was miserable. My then-girlfriend and I were looking for a reason to head back to San Francisco, but I wasn't sure where to land. Few publications were doing anything interesting. I interviewed at GamePro, IGN, and some other places. No offense to any of them, but nothing stuck. Then, I remembered a drunken weekend with a new buddy, Ryan Davis.
I've known Brad for a while--since 13-years-old--and met Jeff at various events. Of anyone at Giant Bomb, I probably knew Ryan the least. He decided to stay a few days after E3 (2010) with my friend and former Nintendo World Report editor Billy Berghammer. Every Friday (or was it Saturday?) night, a local bar featured this incredible 80s cover band. We probably went a dozen times during my 18-month stay in Los Angeles, and it was always amazing. Ryan joined us that weekend, and it was mostly, um, a blur. One does not try to keep up with Ryan's drinking, as you're headed for a morning you'll regret.
One moment does stick out. In the middle of the dance floor, our eyes locked. I don't know what song was playing, but let's say it was "Don't Stop Believing," since it makes the story sound way more awesome. Picture that song in your head for a second, okay? Unprompted, and despite our only real social encounter having been a dinner earlier that night, Ryan grabbed me, and tossed me into the air. He spun me in circles for what, at the time, seemed like several minutes. We sang, and he set me down.
There was sweat everywhere.
A few months after, as I was stressing about what to do next, I decided to randomly email him:
Random emails out of the blue do sometimes work, y'all!
I wasn't officially hired until months later due to X, Y, and Z, finally joining up with Giant Bomb in April. The interview process was smooth, though I remember Vinny asked the most questions. That's probably because Vinny was/is really good at having conversations with any person about any topic. We'd never met each other, so far as I can remember, but if there's anyone I distinctly recall from that interview, it was Vinny. He asked me what I'd be interested in doing at Giant Bomb, and my pitch was pretty similar to what I'd mentioned to Ryan over email. People were important to me, and I wanted to tell their stories.
If I recall correctly, while drinking with Ryan and Jeff, I said something like "I don't want to interview Ken Levine, I want to interview the person right under Ken Levine. They have the better stories." I don't know that I succeeded in that mission during my tenure, but I hope I was able to tell some interesting stories.
The night before my first day, Jeff announced my hiring. I've probably never a warmer set of legitimate congratulations than when I joined Giant Bomb. It was already clear I was joining something special, even if I didn't realize how special it was yet. While I had a sense of what Giant Bomb was all about--I'd done my research before sending an email to Ryan--there's no way to understand until you're in it.
That first year was hard, though. The community kept an open mind about me, but few knew who I was, and plenty were outwardly skeptical. I was Giant Bomb's first official outsider. If I was part of content, the first question was always "How come Patrick's here instead of Jeff/Ryan/Vinny/Brad?" It was a good question, and I didn't have a good answer. I simply tried to do my best, and tried to get better as I went.
Prior to Giant Bomb, I'd never considered myself a "personality," and it's probably why Giant Bomb's always felt authentic. We're just people, and try to have the content reflect that. In fact, when I was hired onto Giant Bomb, my understanding was that I'd have pretty minimal involvement in podcasts and video. I was there to pad out the news section, occasionally pop into other stuff, and that was about it. When I first joined, there weren't even enough podcast microphones to include me. I was on the Bombcast was when someone couldn't make it. If I thought that might happen rather than being presumptuous, I'd stay later at work and hope someone asked me to be on. I was a fan of the Bombcast before I was part of it.
I know not everyone in Giant Bomb's community is my biggest fan, and that's okay. I can live with it, petitions 'n extensions 'n all. But you also had to watch me mature, which was, at times, awkward.
While at Giant Bomb, I grew up. I discovered a fiery empathy for individuals--women, people of color, LGBT, etc.--who experienced life differently. It sounds simple in retrospect, but it was a revelatory. I wanted to have their voices represented. Expressing how I felt, how the industry often undermines all but the status quo, wasn't always smooth. At times, I was too aggressive, phrased my arguments poorly, and did more harm than good. Growing pains happen, though. I'm proud of the conversations we had.
You need to fight for what you believe in, and I did. No regrets.
And for the record, know that we always laughed when people bemused I was suddenly "going rogue" when publishing those pieces. Do you really think no one else read the site? Or I worked in secret?
I grew up in different ways, too. I was preparing for a Quick Look of the Resident Evil 6 demo when someone came over--Vinny, I think--and told me they'd received a hasty message. My brother was trying to get in touch with me, so I picked up my phone, and discovered more than 30 missed calls. I remember telling the room "that's either really good news or really bad news," and walked into the kitchen area. When my brother picked up, I learned my father had passed away of a heart attack at 56-years-old. In a monotone voice, I told everyone what had happened. I walked out of the office, not sure what I should do next. Probably get on a plane back to Chicago? I called my fiance to pick me up.
I was, unsurprisingly, in shock. While I was waiting on the curb, Ryan came up; he was taking a smoke break. He asked me if there was anything I could do, clasped me on the back, and wished me well.
Exactly one year later, ensuring I would never forget him, Ryan would pass on the same day.
When I got the call, I'd already moved back to Chicago, a decision prompted by my father's passing. My phone was buzzing. Vinny kept asking if he could call, and after ignoring him, I bluntly said I was busy. Though drunk, I couldn't muster to say "hey, asshole, I'm trying to grapple with the one-year anniversary of my dad's death, okay?" He persisted, though, so I answered the call, and learned the horrible news.
I missed Ryan's wedding because I was driving back to Chicago. Though it was unknowable and unavoidable, I'll always regret not having been there for his happiest day. At the very least, my last interaction with Ryan was giving him my pride and joy, a Neo Geo arcade cabinet. The last thing we did was drink a PBR, give each other a big hug, and said our goodbyes. That's a romantic comedy ending.
It's hard to say where I'm going with this. How do you say goodbye? You can't, really. Not perfectly. Two hours later, I'm still typing. When I stop, it also means I'm saying goodbye to this job, these people, and this great community. You've given me so much, and I can only hope I've been able to give a little bit back. It's been a dream, and know the incredible, heartfelt notes you've written me over the years will remain in my backpack. In the past, during a tough moment, I've turned to them. In the future, I still will.
Thank you for everything.
Before I go, though, a few parting thoughts to my colleagues.
Dan: I hear there's more to life than wrestling and Metal Gear, but in case there isn't, you've got us all covered. You've brought a tremendous (and seemingly boundless) amount of energy to the site at time it really needs it. And hey, if you need another rollercoaster buddy, holler. This time, let's go backwards.
Jason: I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to work together longer, but you're bringing a valuable set of talents to Giant Bomb, both editorially and in the editing room. Plus, you're impatient enough to import Guilty Gear because it came out on Japanese PSN a few weeks early. That's the kind of weird we need.
Drew: One day, we're going to launch a Kickstarter to travel the world, visit foreign game developers, and taste bizarre foods. Who knows what other hot dog stands exist out there?! Until then, know one of my career highlights was heading to Iceland with you for the EVE Fan Fest. Exhausting, weird, totally fun. When I try to explain what I do at Giant Bomb, it's the first thing I pull up. You did a great job.
Ryan: I'll see you in another life, brother.
Alex: You've spent the last two years indulging my desire to see what it's like to be a mediocre host of a show that probably should have been once a week. Bombin' the A.M. has been a treat. One, it made sure I got out of bed at a reasonable time. Two, it's been fantastic to spend hundreds of hours talking to you about games, news, and ghost cats. Remember when someone spotted a bong on your shelf?
Brad: I've known you since I was an early teenager, back on the ol' IRC. Then, you were rudds, dammit. I don't know what people call you now, but I'm gonna keep calling you rudds. You've been a friend for nearly half my life, and it was an honor to call you a co-worker the past few years. Something tells me it's not the last time, and I truly hope that's the case. Thanks for all the beers, laughs, and grammar fixes.
Vinny: When I found out we were gonna share a hotel room for 10 days in San Francisco for game of the year, I joked to my wife, "aw, we have to share a room." She turned to me, laughed, and said "shut up, you're excited." She was right. There are few people I imagine having a series of enjoyable, insightful, and hilarious conversations with for 10 days straight. You're one of 'em. At least New York isn't that far.
Jeff: Thanks for taking a chance, and supporting me over the years. Being the boss isn't an easy job, and often thankless. You've always had my back, and not only did I appreciate it, I won't soon forget it.
I can't say where I'm going yet, but I'm not leaving editorial, and I'm definitely not working for Dave Lang. Keep tabs on Twitter, and you'll have an idea of what's happening soon. As for some of my regular Giant Bomb features--Spookin' With Scoops, Worth Reading, Coffee Videos for Answering Questions, etc.--those will reappear. Stay tuned. Twitch, YouTube, and Tumblr are probably solid places to bookmark.
Take care, and don't be a stranger.