I thought that my emotions were no longer a working part of me and that my tear ducts and vage had dried up long ago, but apparently there is some humanity left in me after all. Jeff Veasey, or “CJayC” as he is more commonly known, founder of GameFAQs.com, is finally stepping aside. It’s not so much that he’s rich as hell and wants to go live his life that makes me sad, but in the goodbye letter he wrote on the site he talks about the industry leaving him behind as he got older and older.
I suppose any gamers greatest fear (aside from extreme carpel tunnel) is to one day look at the biggest games out there and think to yourself “Meh.” I’m too afraid to think what would happen if video games stopped being part of who I am. Would I like read, and stuff? Maybe eat properly once in a while? I dare not to think of such things. So it’s with a heavy heart that I and countless other gamers bid Jeff farewell, and of course thank him for creating the site that helped me beat the goddamn Cloister of Trials without pulling my own face off and eating it.
Hit the jump for his letter in its entirety, and feel free to pay tribute to Jeff by talking about the game(s) GameFAQs has helped you with over the years in the comments. Rest in piece Jeff, wherever you are.
When I first started GameFAQs in 1995, I didn’t have a clue as to what would lay ahead. I didn’t create the first FAQ-writing community (that was USENET), I wasn’t the first to gather them all in one place (that was Andy Eddy and the Brawl Archives), I was just the first to try to make a navigable web site out of them. A weekend of work on AOL, and it all began.
The first few years were full of steady growth, and by the summer of 1999, I was ready to take the plunge. I quit my “real” job, and turned to working on GameFAQs full time. The ability to focus on the site allowed me to create the message boards, and almost four years after the original site was launched, the boards went live, and ended up driving the site to a huge amount of popularity.
By 2000, in the middle of the first dot-com boom, I was more than happy to ride that huge wave of advertising. I saw several compatriots sell off their sites and retire in luxury, and I was happy for them. I saw several others sell off their sites for shares in a private corporation that was going to be big except that it wasn’t, and I was sad for them. Me, I just wanted to ride the wave for as long as I could.
And “as long as I could” hit right around the Spring of 2003, when I was working 80-hour weeks, getting little sleep, and having to deal with the usual rigors of running a one-man business. It was about to finish me off, and there was no way I could continue to keep going the way I was; that’s what led me to sell the site to CNET in the summer of 2003.
Times with CNET were much better, almost perfect, but not quite. We’ve had plenty of good times and bad. We fixed old problems, and created new ones. Some major mistakes, and never enough make-up to make everybody happy. But, if you look at our traffic growth since CNET took over, it’s hard to say that anything is too terribly wrong the way things are going.
The next year, GameFAQs got its second full-time employee with Allen “Sailor Bacon” Tyner, who has been indispensable in picking up what I couldn’t keep going. He’s actually got my dream job, staying behind the scenes, never getting in anyone’s way, and being there every time I needed him. Which wasn’t often enough, as I still, 11 and a half years later, tried to do everything by myself.
Last year, at E3 2006, I got the first big feeling that the world was starting to move on without me. I didn’t just feel like I was one of the oldest people there; I was reminded of it constantly. Flashes of “No way that kid’s 18” and “This music’s too loud” and “Get off of my lawn” flew through my head. In the GameSpot booth, as I still knew and talked with some of the usual crowd, I couldn’t help but notice that I was feeling even older. Many of them were years younger than me, and I found I had just had less in common with them than I had in years past.
When I got back to the hotel, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Are you really going to still be doing this when you’re 60? Or, much less, when you’re 40?”
And so, as the Summer of 2007 rolls around, I feel like it’s time for GameFAQs to move on, and I’m the one holding it back. Or is that vice versa? GameFAQs was never truly my site, or CNET’s site, but your site, as it belongs primarily to its contributors, and how they choose to contribute shapes what GameFAQs is today. I was the first glue that held this conglomeration together, but glue wears out, and I do too.
And so yes, today, I am announcing my eventual departure from GameFAQs.
I say eventual, because this isn’t a two weeks notice, but it is the first step in my stepping aside to let this train move on with out me. I like my exits slow and subtle, fading out slowly until there’s nothing left. I don’t want anyone to actually notice the true day I leave, and I want things to keep running just they are today, just not by me.
A lot of changes have already happened over the past few years, but most folks probably didn’t notice. Allen already handles over half of the daily submissions onto the site, and he’ll be taking over the rest as the new Editor of GameFAQs. Allen has been with GameFAQs almost from the very beginning, first as a contributor, then as a moderator, and then as my Associate Editor. He’s proof that hanging out on gaming websites can actually do good things for your career. I had Allen picked out ages ago as someone I wanted to work with, and if I’ve got to hand over the reins, they couldn’t be in better hands.
Most of the work on the GameFAQs boards has long been in the hands of our volunteer moderation staff, and of course that isn’t going to change. For the administrative end of things, I’m hoping that there will be a dedicated GameFAQs boards administrator to take over in time, although Allen will be taking the lead there for now as well. GameSpot also already has a full data team designed to handle those kinds of submissions to the game database we already share, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to have me watch over them to make sure that they can handle my own current daily queues with the same level of craftsmanship.
Where does that leave all of you? Well, this site was never about people helping GameFAQs, or people helping me, but gamers helping gamers. I’ve written my own guides for the site over the years, and it was never about any kind of reward except knowing that I made gaming even more fun for whoever read my guide. I hope that’s why most of our contributors do the same, and that hasn’t changed, and won’t change. The boards aren’t being dismantled, nothing is shutting down, and I doubt the large majority of the site’s visitors will notice a thing.
So, what happens to GameFAQs? Again, not a lot. People didn’t come here for me, and I certainly hope nobody leaves for me. I have nothing but good feelings for CNET, who, through all our joint successes and goofs, have been nothing but good to me, and who have listened to me when I’ve wanted to keep the current directions of GameFAQs going to where they are today.
And what happens to poor little old me? Well, like I said, I’m not disappearing overnight. There are a several projects out there that I simply haven’t had the time to implement that I want to go live before I go: Screenshots, for one. I’ve also promised some changes to how reader reviews work on the site, and I want to make sure that the Character Battle is good to go for everybody next month. My goal is to slowly make myself obsolete, something most tech workers dread, but something I plan to welcome with open arms.
And so, the long goodbye begins. This is not the end of me, and definitely not the end of GameFAQs, but it is the beginning of my end. I’ve raised you well, GameFAQs. Now go, make me proud. *sniff*
Jeff “CJayC” Veasey