Fritz Fraundorf's farewell message

Well, here's my obligatory story about how I discovered the GIA: A long, long time on a server far, far away, I was the webmaster of, an inexplicably popular and widely reviled RPG humor site. Frequent server problems and the increasing amount of work necessary to keep the site going were getting to me, however, just as Cosmo Canyon's celebrity reader Brian Glick had departed RPGamer. I didn't really know him at the time (and I can look back in amusement at how nervous I was about making fun of him on the site), but he hung around on RPGamer's Final Fantasy Series message board, where I lurked and - due to Cosmo Canyon - was Public Enemy No. 1. So when he became a founding member of the GIA, word quickly got to me. I promoted GIA on Cosmo Canyon, and as soon as I had the chance - December 1998, two months after the site's founding - I jumped aboard the staff and shut down Cosmo Canyon.

I haven't looked back.

That was when I was a mere 15 years old - a sophomore in high school. When Final Fantasy VIII dominated our upcoming games coverage, when Metal Gear Solid and Xenogears were the hot new releases, people still collected MIDIs, the Game Boy Color was new and the Dreamcast on the horizon, and the majority of gaming fansites were collections of artwork and a few screenshots. I was thrilled to be a part of site with such an all-star line-up, to have crawled my way up into the circles of the elite from my beginnings as an AOL-based FAQ writer. While I was completely fired up about doing the work, I did sometimes wonder how long my tenure with the GIA would last and where the site was headed.

Now, many years later, long after the GIA had become a given in my life, I'm 19 and a junior in college, Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 are the hot new releases, the GIA has revolutionized how fansites run, and I know the answer to that question. I had left the GIA several times before, but I always found myself coming back. I couldn't walk away from helping the site prosper, even if it wasn't quite as fun as it used to be. I do sometimes miss the innocence of the earlier times, when it was more about building a great site for our fans and thwarting the Evil Empire and less about fielding flames from Sakura Taisen fans and trying to find the money to keep the site going. As several other staffers have noted, we're at the top now, and we really don't have anywhere left to go. And while it's nice to think that the site could stand forever to distribute information to the masses, the GIA fayth have gotten tired of dreaming.

Indeed, I feel more than a little weird writing a farewell message now, as I already wrote one to the staff six months ago when I "retired" from the site. Despite nominally returning to the staff a few weeks later, I haven't contributed one damn thing in all that time. The growing frustration of both writing for an audience that doesn't click on anything that doesn't say "Final Fantasy" or "Suikoden" and trying to fit in with a gaming journalism hoi polloi that scorns my fandom has taken its toll on me. I know that I've lost the motivation I once had - and that, perhaps more importantly, I'm no longer a bored high school underclassman with nothing better to do - and it is time to move on, just as it was once time for me to leave Cosmo Canyon behind.

But that may sound a bit too negative -- because while, yes, the GIA has certainly brought me a sizable share of frusteration, it's also brought me a lot of really good times. I still feel a surge of glee whenever a GIA story is linked to or discussed on a forum somewhere, when our goofy running jokes are perpetuated by others, or when we drag a game (Vib-Ribbon, ChuChu Rocket, ICO) out of obscurity and into your collective conscious. It means I made a difference to someone -- that my writing has genuinely brought something into someone else's life that they wouldn't have without me. And there's no better feeling than that.

More importantly, I owe most of the friends I have today to the GIA, not to mention a marked improvement in my writing skills, a more experienced outlook on the world, and the satisfaction of knowing that I really have brought something good to the world. But mostly I care about the friends. And because of them, I could never imagine what my life might have been like had I never joined the site.

And someday, just maybe, my Xenogears vault will appear on Gameforms.

Love and Peace,

- Fritz Fraundorf

P.S. I'd also like to thank all the people who have made these amazing four years possible, including but not limited to: Davon Alder, Andrew Alfonso, Travis Allen, Jake "Googleshng" Alley, Yoshitaka Amano, Alex Annis, Thor Antrim, Tamzen Marie Baker, Ray Barnholt, Pete Bartholow, Brooke Bolander, Jay Boor, Greg Buchner, Ben Breier, Clifford Chao, Shawn Chao, Rahul Choudhury, Andrew Church, H. Clower, Annalisa Conserti, Jay Corbett, Drew Cosner, Sachi Coxon, Jeff Davis, Nick Des Barres, Denis Dyack, Geoff Embree, Nathan Fedeszyn, finalfantasydog, Alex Fraioli, Neil Gaiman, Lara Germer, Kevin Gifford, Brian Glick, Steve Gray, David Green, Rob Hamilton, Carl Hanauer, Andrea Hartmann, Doug Hill, Matt Hobbs, Jerry Holkins, Joseph Holley, Victor Ireland, Bill Johnson, Chris Jones, Mark Jordan, Ian Justman, J.T. Kauffman, Andrew Kaufmann, Jake Kauth, Stephen Keller, Stephen Kennedy, Gun Kim, Hideaki Kobayashi, Arpad Korossy, Yuzo Koshiro, Mike Krahulik, Griffin Lewis, Shane Lile, Tom Lillis, Howard Lincoln, Aaron Linde, Liz Maas, Pat Mackey, Nathan Mallory, Kate Malloy, Brian Maniscalco, Nich Maragos, Dave Marsh, Masaya Matsuura, Zak McClendon, Nathan McGarrity, Ed McGlothlin, Ben McKee, Erin Mehlos, Knight Michaels, Allan Milligan, Peter Moore, Jennifer Mukai, Lisa Neff, Yas Noguchi, Christian Nutt, K. O'Donnell, Jeremy Parish, Jon Peakman, Clara Pierce, Daryl Pitts, John Riccardi, Karl Roelofs, Ryan Rumberger, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Gail Salamanca, Mike Salbato, Brian Sebby, Jeremy Steimel, Max Strini, Shawn Struck, Yu Suzuki, Erin Tidwell, Mike Tidwell, Fumito Ueda, Shaun Walford, Dave Weaver, James Wong, Ted Woolsey, Chon Chin Xiang, Shun Yamamoto, Andrew Vestal, Charles Vestal, everyone who donated to the site last fall, everyone who ever submitted news tips or letters or fan art or fanfics (even the ones we didn't use), the message board regulars, the inventor of the "alt" attribute, my family, everyone in #fret, Bad Religion, Wesley Willis, Gilgamesh, and all the little furry pink people.

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