Funny how time flies and how much difference a year can make. The PAX meetup pictured above had about thirty people, tops, in its first year. Then a hundred. Then hundreds more. Four years -- that's just a baby. So if you missed the start but are here now, don't worry -- you've got great seats.
I'm looking at community blogs, the staff list, and the clock, and sure enough, those are four years well spent in building something that means a lot to a lot of people. We did it with a bang: at the house, we also just celebrated our biggest monthly readership in the history of the site, ever. Now, four years is a long time: longer than the days that make up a high school term. Well beyond the global flaccid standard deviation, so I hear. On the topic of cocks, let's go around the room and quickly embarrass the cliques.
You! The person who thinks they are anonymously reading this. You're not very good ninjas, as I see you pass through here every day like a pack of wolves driving bulldozers. Despite your reluctance to come into the trenches, I just want to say that we are truly appreciative for your near-silent anonymous support. There's a lot of you who haven't introduced yourselves who've read us over the years, and I'm hoping some of you crawl out of that shell sooner or later. Today's a good day for that, I think. Cheers, you bums.
When Web sites talk about their communities, they're usually talking about usernames, statistics, and "social networking" bullshit. Destructoid is made of people. You know the faces. They're real people; some of them even have real beards with real-life get-togethers where they laugh at their really shit Photoshops from their previous evenings. The kind of people that you wish lived next door because there's no way a group of people in your neighborhood could hold a candle to the quality of shenanigans produced by our social circle. There are packs of you in countries I've never even set foot in. You're all insane -- you know that, right? I love you for it, and that's why we're the fun ones.
Although faces always come and go, the torch is always passed to buena gente (I'll come back to this) who keep the spirit of what we've created intact. I try not to understand how it works or came to be, or why we even deserve to have you guys. I'm just lucky you're here, and I hope you take a moment to realize just how lucky it is to have each other.
By the way, if you've found a BFF, now's a good time to exchange contact info, just in case the server pukes. It runs code I wrote, so it's gotta go sooner or later.
You know, when I see those group photos, I don't even see a company anymore. You guys are my air. No, wait, that's far too romantic. You're more like my socks. Yes. It's been a better life since we've met, and it's unfortunate that so many people have to wait around until they're drunk at graduations or weddings to take the time to appreciate what this time together has meant, and how quickly it will fly and go away. Four years in a blink, and they're the four most defining years of my life. I know for some of you, it's the same, and it's why you're still here. It's been real. Also, socks.
Alright, so the old man could go on for hours with this stuff, but there's already three years of it in the archives, so let me change the record. By now, old readers are probably sick of hearing about the Destructoid E3 coming-of-age story, or about what my video game club was like in 1988, so let's try something different instead.
Here are three other stories from my humble beginnings that I'd like to share with you:
I'M SUPER, THEREFOR I'M FUNNY
In fourth grade, I sat behind a poodle-shaped girl named Kenya. She wasn't ugly, but her hair was often teased in such a way that often times I'd have to arc myself in various ways to see the chalkboard. One afternoon, a ruckus starts up in the back of the classroom during math, but nobody in the front is laughing. We look back and they're all looking forward, so I'm thinking old Mrs. Scott screwed up on the board. "Did she accidentally write something perverted?" I scan hard. They laugh harder. You'd think I would have felt a draft. Mrs. Scott, in her golden gray wisdom, figures it out: "I think they're laughing at the way you're bending over." I'd also recently celebrated a birthday, and my aunt had given me epic Superman underwear. To this day I primarily buy black, though I feel like rocking some today on my forehead and streaking down the street.
I'M NOT DANCING, THEREFOR I'M MANLY
Like many of you, I had the option of taking Physical Edudcation, a class where you can copy your friend's homework to the symphony of grunting ball-chasers. An easy A+. The other option was no man's land: dance class. Despite the obvious benefits of being in a class with 98% women in sweaty spandex, it's also a fact that guys who can dance possess the equivalent of God Mode in various social situations like bars, weddings, and my kitchen. Still, at Miami Springs, you'd have to be a pretty stupid guy to commit that kind of social suicide. For a long time I looked back on that choice like I missed a once-in-a-lifetime bus to learn how to do that well and even at all, an excuse which is absolutely retarded.
Yesterday, March 15, I rode a janky bus to take a hip-hop/jazz intro class at the ODC -- my first dance class ever in 32 years. How'd I do? Total rubbish; I couldn't even finish the class, the steps being a total blur. But I'll be back again. Funny how I'd be embarrassed to be seen doing that in a class of 300, but now have no problem embracing the idea with millions. Nay-saying gentlemen, let me assure you that the same obvious quota/spandex benefits still apply. If this results in even one less awkward kid, Destructoid is that much more successful.
I'M STUPID, THEREFOR I'M HAPPIER
Think about it. The smart will navigate their dangers with certainty. If the stupid survive the repeated hits to the head along the path, then they've overcome more than adversity: they get to laugh at the security checkpoints in natural selection. It must be more satisfying for the stupid, as they're treated to added fandom for their needlessly agitated trials. You can't help but cheer louder than you did for the smart. Why? Because there's certainly no charm, romance, or even a hint of magic to those "living the calculated risk." That kind of revelry is strictly reserved for the underdogs.
When I decided to drop everything to build Destructoid, there was no shortage of very smart people available to remind me that there were already well-funded, widely-read videogame sites; that I've no experience; that my mom dresses my robot funny; and so on. All I was guaranteed was nothing but repeated hits to the face.
Sans chops, what is a guy to do? The obvious: Step forward anyway, stupid.
Logic defies our existence. Yet, I sit here rambling on a chopped-in-half Ikea desk nestled snugly into the corner of my new San Francisco office -- a lease that didn't come cheaply. But what would have been worse is holding the company back for that, and other comforts had been sitting ill with me for years now. The video game industry is well-settled into the West, and I'd made countless promises to you, and those countless people in PR that we work with, that we'd someday be down their street.
When was this going to realistically happen? At my comfort level: never.
Like the dancing story, I had aspirations to move to San Francisco long before Destructoid because it was the obvious optimal path for a guy who's always been interested in video games, technology, Asian women and tacos. When I was 22, it was because I couldn't find a job. When I was 24, it was because I met a girl. When I was 26, it was because I had a good job. At 27, it was because I had just started the company. At 29, it was because the company grew and expenses grew, so every year I found it harder to make that jump than the year before. There are only so many excuses you can make for yourself, and there's so much to be said for the wisdom that comes when you fall flat on your ass. Step forward anyway, stupid.
So I'm here. So far, so good.
As a self-funded publisher of a highly visible company, I'm certainly at risk of losing my people, my business. I'm not a classically trained business-face, those ad checks don't always come when you want them to (you know who you are), and the stress is menacing. When stupid (that's me) is stumped, it cuts into our deadlines, travel plans, the team morale, and my (dashing!) youthful looks, and it tests the ideals of our independent business and friendships. It takes chops, and we've got all kinds of chops. Adam can eat, man.
Still, at night I often stay up way later than I should, weighed down by the reality of losing everything. It's not morbid; it's the reality of our industry. If you follow the tweets, you know that things fall apart in a blink, and if you're not appreciative, proactive, stubborn, and strange, you'll neither see it coming nor take a moment to fully enjoy the moment while it's here. (Dtoid Cancun and lobster milkshakes, baby!)
FAILTOID SINCE 2006
To put it plainly, Destructoid's been on the brink of going out of business since the day we started. We just adamantly refuse to, and those stubborn ideals of being that contender and staying independent mean a lot to a lot of people. I believe karma is real. I've seen it do things. I trust it. When you put something good out there like that, people come out of nowhere to lift you up. Sometimes they also have beards and come from Australia and put you in a video game, or their beard is from Russia and saves your 4th year anniversary party. You know, buena gente. No seriously, I'll fill you in on that joke in just a sec.
Someone once said that "it's not about winning, it's about beating," and we ran the company that way for some time. That's definitely one effective way to do it, but it's not my style, and that was a lesson. The very moment I let that fight go made all the difference.
So what is my style? I'll tell you.
It's about time I shared with the world Destructoid's number-one secret, which I know I already gave away to some of you at the 4-year anniversary. During the evening, a few people came up to me and asked us about the secret sauce. No exaggeration -- CEOs with all kinds of money that tell me they can't write a check big enough to have a following like Destructoid's. Programmers infinitely more skilled than me asking how my duct-taped-together site works. Smart people trying to figure out why it is that we're growing so fast and so goddamn happy all the time. And I told them. What we lack in resources, skills, equipment, expertise, foresight, experience, and all that shit, we make up with a fundamental thing.
In Spanish, it's "Buena Gente." My folks say that's all you need, ever. It just means "Good People."
Now let's go towards the big five -- long live Destructoid! Still living the dream.