Andrew Vestal's farewell message

"At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see."
- Plato, The Allegory of the Cave (from The Republic)

I wish I could say I'm looking forward to my life post-GIA, but I'm not, exactly. The truth is, I can hardly picture life without the GIA, and there's no way I can look forward to something I can't begin to imagine. Like the prisoners of Plato's Cave, unable to comprehend a life outside the shadows on their wall, my entire life today is defined by the GIA. The amount of time, effort, and emotion that I've invested in the site is incalculable. Losing it will be like ... like ... I don't know. I can't complete the analogy, because I honestly just don't know.

And that's exactly what I want at this point: uncertainty. For three years, I've known too well how I'll spend my time: playing games, capturing media, writing articles, editing articles, posting articles. Updating, always updating. The GIA came first, school and work came second, and what most people would consider a "life" was third, something to be squeezed into the corners of an impossible schedule. Gaming for pleasure, movie watching, other hobbies, just plain hanging out? Sure, sounds great, I just gotta check my Inbox first. The GIA was a never-ending responsibility, and it took its toll each and every day.

So why did I do it? Why did I sacrifice three years of my life to a website about--of all things--videogames?

Because videogames are important, no matter what some people might think. "Videogames" are a medium, just like books or music or movies. The difference is that videogames are a participatory medium; they invite the player to enter the game's world and to affect the outcome in ways both big and small. The terror of exploring Silent Hill, the emotional pull of a Final Fantasy, the ridiculous joy of walking up the Vib Ribbon; these experiences and others are unique to gaming. Sometimes, after experiencing a moment of particular brilliance, I say to myself: "I'm so glad that I'm a gamer. If I weren't ... I never would have known." I love videogames, and I wanted to share that love with other people. So I did. It was hard work, but so are most worthwhile things.

I need to thank some people before it's over.

Recognition of Andy Church's contributions to the site are long overdue. When the GIA needed a new server early in its lifecycle, he provided it at great personal expense, knowing that he'd be compensated later. When the GIA server needed upgrading, whether hardware or software, he was there to lend a helping hand for as long as it took, no matter what the hour. When the server suffered a total meltdown in the fall of 2001, it was his personal site backup and Google-scripting wizardry that brought so much of it back to life. He was the GIA's own personal deus ex machina; time and time again, his magnanimity kept the GIA alive against all odds. Though never an official staff member, without his help, the site could never have succeeded.

Peter Bartholow helped me get my first "real" job writing about videogames. Without his encouragement I might never have discovered how much I enjoy writing. Peter, I'm grateful. I never could have launched the GIA without the support of Janice Ta, my closest friend who has always believed in me. Though Janice doesn't play videogames herself, she fully intends to be the world's first professional videogame spectator. Janice, thank you for giving me hope. My brother is three years younger than me but three times cooler; I've finally come to accept that. You rock, Charles. And over the years, my parents' attitude towards my videogaming habit has shifted from concern to acceptance to encouragement. They've been supportive of the GIA since pre-inception until its shutdown--what could be better than that? Thank you, Mom and Dad.

But most of all I need to thank the staff. The staff of the GIA is the most amazingly talented, dedicated bunch of people on earth. No other website, fansite or professional, has ever matched the GIA's staff for quality of output; I could not have asked for a better group of coworkers. What we did with what we had is nothing short of a miracle. If the GIA staff had had the time and resources of a "professional" gaming site during the Internet's heyday, we would have taken over the world. I'm not just a better writer because of my work with the GIA, I'm a better person. There will never be another website like the GIA.

I gave the GIA three years of my life--and I wouldn't want a single second back. I wouldn't change a thing.

- Andrew

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