Nich Maragos' farewell message
Even as I write this, even as filled with relief I am that the GIA is finally ending, I'm glowing over the news we've broken in the last week and the stories we've gotten to before anyone else, even the pro sites. These two conflicting, confusing emotions sum up the way I've felt about the site for a long time.
The GIA was a harsh mistress. I think of it in terms of a relationship, because in a real sense, it's replaced the other relationships I might have had if I hadn't joined the staff in July 1999, mere weeks before starting college. You know the cliche from movies: guy meets girl, guy spends more and more time with girl, guy eventually becomes cut off and alienated from his friends as he'd increasingly rather do things with her than with them. And that happened to me; day by day, evening by evening where I'd stay in and not notice the hours stream by as I wrote a preview or prepared another release date story, three years passed.
However, as Renton pointed out in Trainspotting--and another apt way to think of the GIA is as an addiction, because I "quit" one time and found myself editing other people's work every single day anyway for three months until I quit quitting--"People think it's all about misery and desperation and death and all that which is not to be ignored, but what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise we wouldn't do it." Knowing that thousands of people were reading whatever I wrote; having the ability to stand against the rest of the critical tide and deliver an honest, carefully supported review that reflected my own beliefs; getting the chance to reach even just a few people and show them a side of gaming that they might not have otherwise seen ... how could a normal life have been better than that?
It's perhaps emblematic of this double vision of the site that my favorite thing to do on the site were reviews. To play a game for a review is to leech all the fun out of it. You've got to go through them as fast as you can, holding the controller in awkward contortionist grips so you can play the game while hitting the screen capture button every few seconds, and because you're doing that the picture is constantly blinking out as the TV software writes to the hard drive. Then, once you've finished playing the game in a manner no one should, you get to spend the next two to three days thinking of nothing else as you prepare the screenshots for posting, transcribe the staff roll screenshots to the credits rubric, and then get around to writing the damn text. After this, the rest of the eagle-eyed, Elements of Style-quoting staff proceeds to edit you in a such a way that you'll wonder why you ever thought you were qualified to do this in the first place. And once it's finally up on index? Most of the time, no one will ever even write in.
There was no way I would rather have spent my time. I played some of the very best games released in the last few years in such a fashion, and in doing so, all of the above negatives were nullified by the sheer honor of getting to play them for the Gaming Intelligence Agency. It was a privilege to be trusted with the official GIA perspective on any game at all, and I couldn't believe how lucky I was even when my ego was getting shredded in brutal revision sessions. When people did send feedback, there was no greater feeling, and when they didn't, it was more than enough that the finished product would have the respect of the finest, most literate crew of gaming journalists in the world.
I'd be lying if I said that I regretted the site was coming to an end. I've been working here a long time, and I could use the rest. But neither do I regret my time at the GIA and what we accomplished. It may have taken an investment of three years, but it's something I'll be proud of for the rest of my life. Thank you for visiting, thank you for helping to make us what we are today, and God bless you.
--Nich Maragos, GIA.