Chris Jones' farewell message

"Estamos copados." (We are beaten.)
-Dan Simmons, The Crook Factory

I joined the GIA a little over two years ago, after beating out roughly 100 other people for the Double Agent position vacated by Drew Cosner. It was, and is, the most exclusive and talented group of people I've ever been a part of, and I'm just as honored to be able to write these words at the site's closing as I was to be writing my first letters column, way back in March 2000.

Of course, before I was a staff member of the site, I was a fan, and since I'll be a fan of what the GIA staff has constructed long after there ceases to be a site, it's only fitting that I write these impressions as just that - a fan.

The main strength of the Gaming Intelligence Agency, in my mind, was how it managed to bridge the gap between the two major types of gaming websites: the fan site and the commercial site. The former are often awash with enthusiasm for the games they cover, but suffer from some fundamental limitations - lack of time, lack of connections, lack of resources, and lack of polish. Most people simply can't put together a consistently well-written, well-thought out and worthwhile website on their own without suffering from massive burnout.

Commercial sites... well, they're commercial sites. They have the latest news and info, and I won't say they're entirely without personality, or that the staff don't clearly love games... but there's always an invisible wall between the readers and the writers. They'll never have a 1500+ screenshot archive of a game, or passionately proclaim it as the greatest thing since Chrono Trigger just because they love the game that much. From my perspective, as a reader, they're somewhat closer to the corporate machines than they are to regular gamers, and if there's a better alternative, that's what I want.

And that's where the GIA stepped in: we were passionate, personable, and just a little bit fanboyish... but we were also polished, professional, and up-to-date. I'd put the quality of our writing up against any professional site; I'd put the level of our dedication up against the hardest of hardcore gamers. I'm not claiming the site was absolute perfection, and our own message boards are still flooded with complaints about a thousand flaws, both real and imagined. But we tried, and far more often than not, we succeeded. We were, and still are, the benchmark, and you have no idea how much pleasure it gives me to truthfully write that about something I was part of.

But there's a cost in being that great, and once I became more than just a fan, I began to see what it was. There were real people, living real people lives behind the news and reviews that went up every day, and a lot of those people were sacrificing way more than they should have to make this thing work. For everybody who ever complained that we should do things a certain way, or cover this, or retract our statement about that, I invite you to put yourself in our shoes for a moment. Imagine being a college student, tests to take, papers to write, girls to (hopefully) date, jobs to apply for, games to play... and then, on top of all that, to have to spend two or three hours every weeknight in front of a computer screen searching japanese websites for the latest news and writing up some piece of trivia about a game you don't even care about, with just as much care as you'd give to an A English paper.

Think you could do it? Then go ahead. Become what we were. Supplant us in people's minds, and make your site, whatever it is, the greatest damned gaming website in history.

Otherwise... well, I won't say you shouldn't criticize, because criticism can be a great thing. But always keep in mind that you don't know the whole story, and you never will.

When all's said and done, I'm left with surprisingly few regrets. Things come along in life, they're good for a time, and then they either go quick or fade away. This is as true of gaming websites as it is of people, places and everything else you will ever be involved with. You can hold on tight to try and keep things the way they were, or the way you think they should be, but more often than not you just end up slowly strangling what you wanted to protect. That said, best to end it quickly and honorably, with good memories and a fond farewell. Thus:

To the staff, supporters, and readers of the GIA:

Goodbye, and thanks for everything.

-Chris Jones, agent of the GIA

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