The industry responds: a repeating theme to recent gaming layoffs

Screenshot - IGN Ziff

Within a 48-hour timespan, our treasured industry went from cries of pleasure and enjoyment to literal tears of sorrow. For some, Wednesday’s Playstation Event marked a landmark moment in their professional writing careers, and for others it was the apex of a generation that many would say lasted years beyond any initial estimation. But then, hours later, all jubilee came to a halt as word broke that employees from 1UP.com, GameSpy.com, and even a handful from the industry’s juggernaut, IGN.com, were out of a job in part of restructuring effort by IGN’s new parent company, Ziff Davis. The news instantly brought many of us back to late last month when we were faced with yet another disheartening situation – the fallout of THQ, and the countless number of personnel who were without work.

There’s no refuting the fact that our medium, and the way we present it, is evolving before us – this continuing trend affirms this. However, instead of spending countless sentences rambling on about where the industry is heading, I’d like to spend some time reflecting on one repeating theme that’s shined bright throughout these recent, unfortunate events: the industry really is one big family.

IGN companies

That last assertion may come across to some as a clichéd expression, but there’s really no other way to describe the events that have unfolded after these dreadful incidents. Personally, this family love goes back a few years to when I was an “infant” in the industry. I was contributing to an indie, fan site as a hobby, looking to interview prominent faces in the industry. I came in contact with then OXM guru and now IGN operative, Ryan McCaffrey and asked for a few minutes of his time for interview, which must have seemed foolish to him at the time, but he gratefully accepted. Not only that, he featured my interview on the OXM podcast (Thanks again, Ryan). Then there was E3 2012. It was my first E3 – my first industry event to be exact – and I was nervous. I was surrounded by my idols, and my only thought was, “don’t be that guy.” At a rooftop Sony event, industry analyst Michael Pachter caught me in the bathroom (nothing like meeting a prominent voice in the industry while you’re gearing up to pee, right?) and thanked me for publishing an interview with him for GameZone. Oh, and I also ran into several writers who welcomed me as if I had been writing professionally for several decades.

But lets not digress any longer. I remember sitting at my laptop the morning that the THQ news went live. While many readers were likely drooling at the mouth to find out who picked up their favorite titles, I quivered at the realization that real, talented people lost their jobs. These people have families. These individuals have rent and other piling bills. It was a gloomy time to say the least – until I opened up my Twitter and saw the industry’s response. The reaction wasn’t only heartfelt condolences; no, it was publishers offering those laid off new positions at their companies. It was PR businesses scrambling to open up positions to those that were just as frantically looking for work. One gleaming example of this was freelancer Alex Rubens. Alex, whose work has been published in over twenty-five publications, took it into his own hands to create a document listing every open position that was steadily becoming available. He then published the link on Twitter where the masses could get the word out to a larger audience.

THQ

And then there are the events that took place yesterday with 1UP, GameSpy, and IGN. Again, the response of the industry (and fans – can’t forget them as well) was simply overwhelming. Ryan Clements, one of the brilliant faces let go by IGN, was trending on Twitter yesterday thanks to the “ClementsMemories” hash tag, which featured countless stories of his time at the company, in addition to his time on podcast Beyond! IGN was also trending, as fans offered sympathies to those affected. However, the response intensified as dozens of publications reached out specifically to those affected and offered new positions. And once again, media specialists set out to file these openings in one place, including GoodGamesWriting.com who are actively updating a list as you’re reading this. Lastly, there was a tear-jerking farewell feature written by IGN’s Editor-in-Chief, Casey Lynch, which in itself could better articulate what this editorial is attempting to highlight.

Nonetheless, yesterday’s events reminded me how blessed I am to be in this industry. There was a conversation I had with Activision’s Dan Amrich at E3 last year where he told me that most people never truly leave the industry. I now see why. Everyone, writers and devs alike, sincerely cares for one another, recognizes one another’s talents, and wishes to see their gifts mature and expand. The future of our industry isn’t exactly clear, though more layoffs are likely, but above all else these events remind me that it’ll be okay. It reiterates to me that this is a special place.

You can see more of Tate Steinlage’s ramblings on Twitter at @SteinlageT.

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Tate Steinlage I write words about video games and sports. Hope you like them.
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