I'm not really sure how to open this one. Like everyone else, when I read the news that Vinny, Brad, and Alex were leaving, I was shocked. I couldn't believe it, truly could not. And like so many others, I've just been overwhelmed with emotions the last few days. I've fought back tears, and choked up thinking about how much this website, and those three have been a part of my life for so long now. And it's just so much that I felt like I should try to get some of it out into words, even if part of me feels a little selfish posting it as a blog of my own, rather than comment on a forum post already out there or something. (But I'll not kid myself, this'll be too long for that.)
Where do I even begin though? I'm thirty years old, and I've been a fan of Giant Bomb since I was nineteen. Aside from like, literal family or friends, nothing else has been important to my life for that long. Literally nothing. I was a freshman in college when a friend linked me to the Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire Quick Look, and that was the start of it all. The reason this friend linked it to me was because my roommate at the time, another friend, and myself were all watching so much of that Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon show. Now, in the years since I haven't really thought about that cartoon outside of its connection to this moment in my life, and I'm still friends with that one good friend who linked me the video (even if we don't talk nearly as much as we probably should), but those other guys? I lost touch with them before I even graduated.
The point being that for a third of my life, GB has been there for me. Most of my adult life, for that matter, and a huge portion of my life that I can actually remember clearly. Through all the bad times, and the fleeting good ones, GB, and all the incredible, amazing people working there have been there for me, and countless others. And it feels weird to word it this way, when really they're just talking over video games, and doing podcasts, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I don't even know how to properly put into words what it means to be able to be at some of the absolute lowest, worst moments in my life, but having GB there as something funny, something goofy and silly and ridiculous, and something maybe touching enough to just keep me going a little bit longer.
And all the friends I've met. Again, aside from family, and my two oldest friends (<3 you both), all my current friends are either people I've met through GB, or met through people I met through GB. Even those two oldest friends of mine, they've been GB fans longer than me! But so many people that I hold near and dear to my heart now, simply never would have been a part of my life without Giant Bomb. I was gonna list out names, but it was too many, and I started to feel bad just having a handful of them, because I'd always leave someone out. But if we're friends, and you're reading this, you know how much you mean to me. <3
But it's not even “just” all those friends, GB became the place for me to put out my scattered writing about games, heck it's where I put this! And personally I'd be embarrassed to go back a decade plus and see what my writing was like back then, but it's all still there. A record of my growth as a writer, shaped by this site. You could probably go through and see how my sense of humor, how my tastes shaped and grew over the years. Probably isn't a better record of how I grew and changed as a person anywhere else in the world, than this goofy little blog.
And I wouldn't have done it if GB wasn't such a fun, inviting place. If it wasn't full of great, amazing people, both working it, and in the community. Even if I haven't regularly visited the forums in who knows how many years now, that was still a formative part of my life, probably in ways even I don't fully realize to this day.
I was even a moderator here, for crying out loud! Sure, it was a short stint, and it really didn't end the way I wish it had, but in retrospect I am glad I at least had the experience. Even if summer of 2014 (you know, the “GameGate” summer) was perhaps the worst possible moment in time to start as a moderator on a website about video games, haha.
But, the reason for this post is because of the people leaving Giant Bomb, so I have to say at least a little something about each of them too.
Vinny, truly one of the funniest people on the entire planet. I seriously can't think of anyone who could bring so much light and joy so effortlessly (or at least what felt effortless from afar) to so many people. I'd be lying if I tried to pretend Vinny wasn't my favorite at GB, like he is for a whole lot of others. There's a reason the “Vinny status confirmed” gif exists, after all. Who else could take the most pedestrian of open world games and make them into some of the funniest videos I'd ever seen? Not many people could talk over a hundred hour JRPG and make that a worthwhile series through to the end, even if parts of it haven't aged well (in ways I'm sure Vinny and Jeff would probably agree with now).
Back in 2014, when it was announced that Vinny was leaving the San Francisco office to move to New York, it felt like the end of an era, but really it was just the beginning of GB East, and maybe still the best GB ever was. For years, the Beastcast was my favorite podcast. It was a pillar of my every week, it's the thing I listen to every Friday morning. Even over the last year, when they started livestreaming them, I still waited until Friday morning. Every winter, the Beastcast holiday special when Austin (truly a legend himself, for lack of a better word) returned for some tabletop game silliness, that became one of the things I look forward to the most that time of year. Especially this last year, when meeting up with family in person was a no go, I still had that to bring a little joy to my heart.
Now, it's coming to an end... The final Beastcast is going to be live, but...I know I'll just tear up and start bawling if I tried to watch it live. I might just do that on the archive version too. But at least then I can pause the video, and recollect myself as needed.
I've been thinking a lot about the time I got to meet Vinny at Pax. A friend who couldn't attend asked if I could give Vinny a hug from her, and not only did Vinny gladly agree (which sounds preposterous now in pandemic life, just giving hugs to total strangers), but after he smiled, and said, “and here's another hug, for you.” It's the only time I ever met him in person, but even just in that one brief moment, I could feel that something special about him.
Good hugger, too.
Part of me wants to try to say that Brad was often the most thoughtful member of GB, that he was a great writer that could really explain what made games good or bad... But let's be real, if I think about the Brad moments that will stick with me, it's him getting outrageously infuriated at hard games. Hearing Brad scream at the top of his lungs was always funny, but in truth the thrilling victories he pulled out were as much a reason to watch, even if the screams are what come to mind first.
And his playthrough of Demon's Souls with Vinny, is honestly my favorite “Endurance Run” of a whole game that I've ever seen. I can't really put my finger on exactly what it is, but I've just found myself coming back to rewatch that series almost every year since it originally aired. Maybe part of it is that when it aired I was coming off of some time in the hospital, and I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong with me yet, so it was comforting to watch. Maybe part of it is that I hadn't played Demon's Souls yet, and as much as I think it's a better game to watch than to play, there is something special, and kinda unique about that game, and my initial experience with it is tied to these videos.
But the main reason is that Brad and Vinny just made a perfect pairing for these videos. Vinny playing the trickster who Brad could never quite tell what he was serious about, and what was a ploy. And Brad, his obsession with the lizards is still one of the funniest things on the site, as far as I'm concerned. Again though, seeing him work through that game, it's just comforting, and fun to watch.
And Alex, who I feel a little bad about because I don't have nearly as much to say about him. Not because he also hasn't been a huge part of what's made GB special to me, because he was every bit as vital to making the Beastcast what it was as the others. The thing is, when I think about Alex, he feels more like a support than the main star. Or, to put it in food terms, he's like garlic. I wouldn't really want to be eating whole cloves of garlic on their own every day, but damn if it doesn't make just about any food better when you add it in.
Alex is, in other words, the garlic of Giant Bomb.
In all seriousness though, Alex in some ways always felt like the most relatable of the group. Mainly because while I'm sure every one of them has gone through so much we'll never know about, but Alex always felt like the most up front with his own mental health situation. Not that my experiences are the same as his, or I even know what his are beyond what he's said publicly over the years, but I appreciate what he has said over the years. Helps remind us all that we're not alone in this, you know?
I think I've said just about everything I can. This site has meant so much to me, because of all the people around it, whether they worked there, or were friends I met through it. In very real ways, Giant Bomb has helped shape who I am. For the better I think, or at the very least I'm a better person now than I was when I first became aware of Giant Bomb. Not all of that is because of GB, obviously, but probably more than you'd think.
I know the reason I wrote this was to say farewell, and wish the best to three people leaving, but I can't help but wonder... What's next for Giant Bomb? I don't know, but I do want to believe that as much as we're all talking and acting like this is the end, that it'll keep kicking. It'll be the end of Giant Bomb as we've known it for the last few years, but the Giant Bomb “as we've known it” has ended a bunch of times already. It ended after Dan left. It ended after Austin left. It ended when Vinny moved east. And it ended when Ryan passed.
But each time it's kept going, and I still want to believe that Jeff can help steer it somewhere good. It won't be the same, but it doesn't need to be. Giant Bomb has already helped me through some of the worst times of my life, and maybe whatever it turns into next will help some other people in the same way too.
Regardless, I've stuck around this long, and I'm willing to stick it out a bit longer too. I'd hope that Jeff wouldn't be staying if he didn't believe there was still a future for Giant Bomb.
Of course, there's no other way for me to end this than with one last farewell to Vinny, Brad, and Alex. I doubt any of them will read this, but thank you all for everything you've done for me, and everyone else. You'll never know how much you meant to all of us, and all I can do is wish you the absolute best in your lives. You deserve it, and so much more.