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First Anniversary

The Gameological Society, one year in.

By John Teti • April 2, 2013

Gameological was in the works for a couple of years before it officially launched on April 2, 2012. The first time I can remember discussing the idea was at a lunch meeting with Scott Jones and another games critic we both knew. Scott and I were still licking our wounds from the collapse of our gigs at a site called Crispy Gamer, and while Scott was already moving on to a steady job as cohost of the Canadian game-review show Reviews On The Run, I still wanted to start up a new site together. The third guy was into the “new site” idea, too, and he proposed that we aim it toward parents who need help deciding which games to buy for their kids. The partnership dissolved as soon as we split the lunch tab.

That’s how these passion projects go. There are so many iterations and false starts before the thing exists. Over the course of 2010 and 2011, I told some colleagues about the ideas I was toying with, and a little coalition formed. We’d meet every month or so at somebody’s apartment and talk about what we wanted the site to be. Sometimes I’d email out magazine articles in advance, and we’d talk them over, dissect the approach and the ethos that drove these writers we admired. I had an ungainly easel that I’d bought for $9 from Staples, and this huge pad of paper. As people talked, I’d scribble their thoughts on the Idea Easel with colored markers. Everyone was full of energy. I miss those meetings, and I should have taken more pictures. When you’re making something, take pictures.

Even the broadest outlines of the concept went through huge changes. First, it was going to be a monthly online magazine. Then it was a weekly. For about 30 seconds two summers ago, it was an iPad app. It was a struggle to come up with a name, and I thought I really had something when Texture Pop popped into my head. Good lord, Texture Pop. That’s awful. My wife, Anna, came up with The Gameological Society, and that was perfect. It captured the maturity, the self-mockery, and the sense of belonging that I wanted the site to have. I’m one of those annoying guys who “doesn’t like labels,” but I have to admit that in this case, the label crystallized a lot of what we were thinking about.

The logo was another thing. The freaking logo. The first logo treatment looked like this:

Dandy logo treatment rev. 1

That’s drawn by the illustrator Keith Vincent, whose work shows up around these parts from time to time. It was cool, but I didn’t like that the site was represented by a male figure, and “the dandy,” as he came to be known, was too tiny.

Dandy logo rev. 2

This revision by a different designer solved the scale problem, but the dandy was still a dude. It turns out it’s hard to draw a female dandy. I ultimately went back to Keith with the idea of doing a stylized arcade button, and he kicked ass with it.

By the end of 2011, The A.V. Club had offered to publish Gameological—now a daily—and I was buzzing with preparation for The Site. The writers were working on a few long-term articles and continuing to shape the project at our monthly meetings. I was finishing the design, fleshing out the budget, and so on. It felt like real stuff. But nothing prepared me for the moment on April 2 when it was time to go public. In one instant, we had been thinking about a thing in theory for the better part of two years. In the next, we suddenly had to do that thing every single weekday. Gameological proved to be more work than I’d thought a small site would be. There were days when I was overstressed and consumed by worry that I was in over my head. (I’m using “days” here as a euphemism for “months.”)

It was a problem of the way I thought about it. I viewed April 2, 2012, as a breaking point—a moment after which Gameological became a different beast. The past was preparation and iteration; the present needed to be perfection. That was so stupid. If there’s one lesson I drew from the last year, it’s that there is no breaking point on a project like this. Since it’s made by human beings, it’s always going to be imperfect—in fact, I don’t know what “perfect” would look like—and it’s always a work in progress. Once I started thinking of Gameological that way, holy moly, it turned back into a lot of fun again. My mistake was to view April 2 as something other than one point in the longer timeline. And I guess I’m making the same mistake with these anniversary ramblings, but it’s fun to circle a day on the calendar.

I was going to do some specific “thank you” stuff here, but there are a lot of people who deserve thanks, and I’ll end up leaving someone out. The people who put the site together know how I feel about them. And I hope you all reading this know, too. It has been fun getting to know you. As for those who frequent the comment threads—colleagues often compliment me on the friendliness and intelligence of the site’s community, as if I have so much to do with it. Aside from ousting a troll or adbot from time to time, I have little to do with it. You folks set a smart, welcoming tone from the beginning that has managed to stick as the site’s audience has grown. That continues to be a pleasure, and you should take credit for it. So, yeah, thanks to everyone involved for making this past year (and hopefully some time to come) a possibility. For me, it’s cool to enjoy one of those rare times when you feel like you’re doing just the right thing for this particular moment in your life.

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32 Responses to “First Anniversary”

  1. “God Bless us, every one!”

  2. CNightwing says:

    Texture Pop? Awful.

    Texture Pop Fever? Sign me up.

  3. doyourealize says:

    First birthday of many hopefully. Go games!

  4. Cloks says:

    Four more years! Four more years!

    • Captain Internet says:

      Since the Republican Party is rather starved of talent at the moment, could The Gameological Society be positioned as their next candidate for President?

      – Natural born citizen of the United States
      – Collective age of editorial staff well over 35
      – NY Republicans seen as moderate, poll better in swing states
      – Non-humans tend to win over humans in US Presidential elections
      – Logo is a big red button


      – Pinterest also considering running, has more funding
      – Backed by Herman Cain

  5. duwease says:

    Gameological is the reason I finally joined Disqus.

    But I don’t fault it for that.

  6. DrFlimFlam says:

    Gameological is a big part of me getting back into games as something to discuss often, and I like the adult discourse and wide swath of it. It covers Gears of War and BioShock but also puts equal weight to game music and cheap/free stuff on a variety of platforms.

    Also, I get the idea of the dandy (and I like it in a vacuum), but I like the button better. It’s kind of “game” stately without looking like a hipster thing.

  7. EmperorNortonI says:

    Kudos to staff and community alike for making this site so awesome.  It’s really great to be able to talk with a group of people who take games seriously.  In many ways, I think they are the defining artform of my generation – the same generation as a large number of commentators on this site, I suspect.  The very presence of a place like The Gameological Society is a sign that the art form is starting to come of age.

    Go Gameological!  Woot!

  8. dmikester says:

    I’ve been reading since day one, and I look forward to each new post every day.  I might even say that this is my favorite site on the Citadel, oops, I mean the Internet.  But seriously, I had never been into commenting before, and this site inspired me to start with its intelligence and wit, great topics, and wonderful commenters, and I’m so glad I did.  Thanks for an amazing year, and here’s to many more to come!

  9. beema says:

    Congratulations guys! 
    And now I finally know what the logo is supposed to be. Up until now I wondered if it was some nod to the Xbox red ring of death, or if it was Hal 9000’s “eye.”

  10. Captain Internet says:

    I am going to get so drunk tonight, and it’s so much nicer when something like this happening and I can convince myself it’s the reason why. 

    Anyway, congratulations to all involved! I think the moment I came to love it here was when I realised I was coming here to read the fabulous commentary on the London Olympics despite being in London myself and having it commentary on the London Olympics thrown at me from every angle in real life.

    It’s been refreshing to read articles about games written from the perspective of people in the grounded in the world, rather than simply grounded in the world of games. And it’s been wonderful to see- and barring a number of dick comments on my part, join- a crowd who respond to that. 

    So, many happy returns, Gameological, and I look forward to what’s to come.

    Even if it’s mostly going to be talking about Mass Effect on Fridays.

  11. Moonside_Malcontent says:

    Congratulations to the GS team for a great first year, and warmest fraternal congratulations to my fellow members of the GS commentariat!  May our standards of inclusive and critical dialogue serve as the vanguard party of a gaming commentary revolution!  Kotaku, PA Report and even the reactionary scum at Gamespot and IGN will inevitably fall to our superior model of entertainment analysis!  Or they will until we ourselves inevitably fall to some ruthless asshole with a “Gameologism in One Website” ideology.

  12. caspiancomic says:

    I will take credit for it John! You’re welcome.

    Alright fine, thank you as well. Over the years I’ve hung my internet hat at a lot of different places, and I think Gameological is my favourite of the lot. It’s thanks to John, and the rest of the staff, and the entire commentariat, that this place feels so much like home. If not for the good folks here I probably wouldn’t have discovered the Humble Indie Bundle V, which gave me some of my all time favourite games, including Bastion. Without encouragement from my butties here at the site I would never have experimented with Persona, or Mass Effect. Basically, almost all of the truly great gaming experiences I had last year I owe in some way to my involvement on the site, and to all of you. So thanks, to everybody.

    Can’t wait to see what comes next.

  13. Andy Tuttle says:

    What I love the most about this site is that it doesn’t feel like a typical video game site. It doesn’t have the bombast of IGN or the kind of angry nerd rage that Kotaku has, its a small, intimate operation that treats games seriously but not too seriously. I really enjoy everything you’ve done so far, except for The Seeds, some of those were kind of, eh, lacking, I suppose.

  14. Link The Ecologist says:

     Like everyone else, I love the content of this site and find the tone very enjoyable.

    And also like everyone else, I think the commenters here have formed a great community. It’s almost intimidating. the pressure to come up with a scintillating contribution is ever present.

  15. Colliewest says:

    Congrats Gameological! If I ever get a job that requires my undivided attention I will really miss you.