For someone who has been on Giant Bomb since the very beginning, I can say that the past few days have been a quickly shaken cocktail of emotions. Jeff Gerstmann no longer being a fixture of Giant Bomb is a blow I entertained every blue moon in the back of my head but never fully considered. I know the exact time and place of where I was when the news of Jeff's GameSpot firing first broke. It was minutes from me needing to attend my sixteenth birthday party at a local Black Angus Steakhouse. My birthday celebration was, as my parents put it, "a momentous occasion" that should not be disturbed because "a video game reviewer lost their job." And that Black Angus was a fixture in my local community, with some erring towards histrionics in calling it an "establishment." Nonetheless, I told myself then and there that if I wasn't going to be able to watch the events unfold as they happened, then I promised I would follow Jeff wherever he went. It was childish, yes, but I was a teen and still convinced that the para-social internet interactions I had represented deeper personal connections. It's a lesson we all hopefully learn. Also, after almost forty years of existence, that specific Angus Steakhouse closed two years ago.
I have been writing on Giant Bomb since 2008, and I do not say that to put newer users in a position of implied inferiority. I say that because, by hook or by crook, I have been plugging along with blogs and articles meant to entertain and keep people's spirits up for over ten years, and I did so because of Jeff. The news this week shook me as it did for many of you. It's a sting that reminds me that the fifteen years this site was able to persist in the capacity it had were a blessing and not a norm found on most websites. Giant Bomb continued after the passing of Ryan and outlived the version of E3 we knew and loved. Jeff's commanding voice led Giant Bomb through some difficult bumps and bruises, and its core tenet of being a place to watch a close-knit group of friends joke around with video games persisted. Part of that is changing, and I understand that scares people and angers others. Nevertheless, when I watch the content without Jeff, it makes me feel hopeful, and it makes me feel happy. In that spirit, I'm sticking around. It was the dream of many of the people helming the site now to be where they are, and I am not going to deprive them of attaining their aspirations. Watching the new introduction of the site's core staff showed me that it's at least worth waiting to see and support this path they want to take. Many of them have already done so much for this site, and I am willing to give them a chance.
Also, Giant Bomb is special. When I fucked up, and trust me, I have really fucked up in my many years on the internet; it was always here. It has been a place for me to relax, watch videos, and meet up with familiar friends and allies. That aspect of Giant Bomb will never change. However, I plan on following Jeff much as I continue to tune into Nextlander while also awaiting new episodes of Run for the Hills or the Waypoint podcast. I promised many years ago to see Jeff through to the bitter end. That will still stand. It was great having all of the video game-based media I wanted in one place, but that's no longer the case, and that means I have to change how I go about supporting the people that have already been an essential part of my life. Consuming video game-based content online is different. When Giant Bomb was first founded, it was formed with users being able to publish blogs in mind rather than hosting videos, chats, or streams. It took time for me to come to terms with these words, but here I am saying them, "things change." It's okay to follow multiple websites, YouTube accounts, and streamers and be subscribed to complimentary Discord communities. And before anyone asks, absolutely, I would have changed the circumstances to have Jeff still working with this incoming group. There's a lot I would change, but I don't think I'll ever know what led us here, but I know the only thing I can personally do is look ahead and continue to explore ways to help the people that kept me here in the past and continue to keep me here. And I know I need to think about that more because I know I can and should do more.
And while I am not in a doom-and-gloom mindset right now, there's something to this puzzle of seeing waves of websites and online communities come and go that I always forget to do. I always fail to say goodbye. When Whiskey Media got bought by CBS, and users protested that their premium subscriptions did not justify the cost, despite my disagreements, I let users I saw and talked to for literal years leave without a word. Shit, when the Whiskey Media sites split apart, despite getting the green light to provide front-page editorial content on AnimeVice, I never gave all of my friends there the goodbye they deserved. I regret that mistake to this day. When Brad, Vinny, and Alex left, I let long-time friends walk away. With this news, I can only imagine many of you will leave Giant Bomb in response, and that's a reaction I emphasize and understand. So, before you do, I want you to know I enjoyed talking to you. I loved so many of you, and I hope in your journey to find something that brings you the same happiness and joy this site brought you, you are successful. I liked seeing the same four or five of you commenting on my articles and blogs. I liked the silly memes. I liked the same repeating chat emotes. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when I did not show it. And for that reason, I am rooting for you in your search to find something on the internet that brings you genuine happiness.
It's okay if that doesn't ease all of the anxiety and anger some of you feel. That's a part of the process of bearing the brunt of unexpected change. If this is a hard goodbye, and you never want to come back, or you do come back, and you don't enjoy what the site has become, then I also want to say something to you. You grew up on this site. We grew up together on this site. I watched so many of you go from being young adults who bragged about long gaming sessions to talking about your marriages and bringing life into this world. I want you all to know I heard you, even when I did not reply to you. I want to thank you for what you brought to the site when you were having fun. In moving on, I want you to know that you have obviously changed more than I have, and that's amazing. For many of you, we all got over ten years older together! You're probably never going to get the same enjoyment that you once did, but you can still have the fond memories of jokes or events that brought the hardiest laughs or biggest smiles. And all I ask is that you remember some of the users, profile pictures, list makers, artists, reviewers, and commentators you met along the way. There might not be another opportunity or place where an infusion of user-led talent and passion ever crosses a single website as it did for Giant Bomb. To those who contributed to that, I hope you all find platforms and champions and advocates as you did here. You deserve them.
I want to thank Jeff for putting years into this site and allowing me to interact with so many of you. Jeff's impact has resulted in many in this community feeling empowered to follow careers across a gamut of industries. People who blogged for fun on Giant Bomb are now actively covering games because of him. People who made silly Giant Bomb highlight or compilation videos are shooting, editing, and directing movies. People who made fan art ten years ago have gone on to become full-time artists and designers. Some former users are even making AAA video game titles! To all of you, if no one has taken the time to say "I'm proud of you" yet, I will now. When I decided to pursue a career in public education, the hope I could have an impact on youths was what drove me through the darkest of my moments. Jeff and the long list of other faces that have graced Giant Bomb have had that sort of impact. The same goes for everyone who has shared one iota of their creative capacities here.
So, to anyone who departs after all that is said and done: Good luck, and stay safe out there. We need you all and don't forget to drop by to say hello from time to time if you have it in you. And if we meet up elsewhere, wherever that may be, let's promise to have another good laugh. All these years supporting each other shouldn't amount to nothing.