Features & News
Team Talk: A Fond Farewell to TIMJ Towers
February 2, 2017, Author: The TIMJ Team
Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end; and so it is with This Is My Joystick. As the Team Talk was a regular feature on the site and was always a great way to get the team bashing heads together, it seemed an appropriate way to bow out too.
For one last time, we asked present and past members of the TIMJ family to give their thoughts on a subject; this time, what it has meant to them to write, talk, or otherwise work on the site. Read on, and thank you to you all for your patronage on the site.
This farewell piece has been sat on the shelf in draft format for a while now, and that’s partly due to a lack of time, but also because I just couldn’t bring myself to post it. When a project has consumed seven years of your life, it’s hard to just turn off the switch, you know?
What can I say? I started This Is My Joystick in June 2009 as a way to build a portfolio to help me break into paid games writing, while also hoping to provide a platform for others in similar situations.
Very quickly, TIMJ became a passion for a lot of other people too, talented folk that selflessly offered up their spare time for many years to produce fantastic content for the cause. I was regularly amazed, not just at how many would offer that time, but then match and exceed my own efforts. TIMJ was my baby, yes, but what little success and longevity it had was down to everyone else that came along for the ride.
I’d like to think that, at least, anyone that came through our doors improved their craft while with us. Being an indie site that doesn’t pay isn’t easy; sometimes you have to take on the raw, the inexperienced, and work with them, polish them. We weren’t promising ‘exposure’, but constructive feedback, steady improvement and the chance to learn and be inspired by other talented people. I’m heartened by the number of our contributors that went onto paid writing work after spending time with us – well before I managed to – so if I’m proud of anything from the last seven years, it’s certainly that, if I’m allowed to claim it.
So, why close it down? Firstly, I achieved my goal; I have been getting paid as freelancer for a number of years. Sadly, TIMJ was limiting my time to do more. I’m 35 now, and I don’t want to regret not making more of that. Secondly, the fact we couldn’t pay staff has been a constant source of guilt for me, and we had some incredibly capable writers putting all their efforts towards a little unpaid indie site out of loyalty, when they should have been hustling for coin. I’m happy fostering talent, I never want to be stifling it.
I’ll leave you with some quickfire memories: I was never prouder than when Ray Willmott was the first to get a paid gig with GamesTM, or when we somehow won a Wales Blog Award because of his Welsh roots. I’ll remember how we rallied together and somehow got Jacob Saylor to E3 one year, and I can still hardly believe that we had such a high-quality podcast that it was nominated for a GMA, courtesy of Neil Hickton, Andy Buick and Smiley Dave. I’ll never forget Neil Hughes’s infectious work-rate and endless optimism in the early days, or that the work we produced was so good that it was also plagiarised at least once.
TIMJ for me was my first step into writing for a place where someone would read it. I’ve been writing all my life and to have something I wrote displayed in a place with such integrity was a defining moment for me.
My fondest memories (of my own work) are my Digging for Gold series (where I played random, usually shitty Xbox games hoping to find something good) and the critique I was able to do on the Panorama episode “Dealing’ with games addiction” (remember that one?). That led to being contacted by other writers for quotes and being quoted directly on other sites. I genuinely felt like a reporter and that my words had impact. TIMJ gave me that opportunity and I’m eternally grateful for that.
The site itself was a wonderful thing full of talented, intelligent and lovely people. Mr Corrigan worked tirelessly to not only get it up and running but keep it ticking over when real life took hold of us and the output slowed. The entire team put their hearts, souls and spare time into building something unique that has influenced the wider industry, even if they may never recognise it. Our refusal to use numbered scoring, our dedication to opinionated editorials and our willingness to foster fresh talent. All of these are things we are now seeing widely across many sites, with only the biggest clinging on to the established order. Part of me felt like TIMJ may never reach the heights it deserved to but that was my own pessimism and I hoped against hope that it would flourish into the bastion of considered, measured, opinionated writing it always deserved to be.
The worst part for me is that the games community has transformed into such a toxic, poisonous place of late; filled with people who would rather be rude, dismissive and cynical than polite, accepting and hopeful. A community like that needs as many powerful forces pulling in the opposite direction as possible and in its day, TIMJ was one of those forces. I think today, if given the readership it should have always had, it would be making a significant impact on the community.
Some things are not meant to be, however, and with great sadness, I have to accept TIMJ was one of those things. I was very disappointed when I had to leave due to mounting personal stresses (not mention a serious anxiety issue) and even more saddened when I heard the site was closing doors. Due to life stuff (damn life, always seems to get in the way) I’ve had to resign myself to a boring office job for the last few years after my attempts to get into paid writing failed. However, I’ve been part of a team making a game for a few years now and am learning to make them myself when I have the time. So maybe some of you guys will be reviewing my game one day; if I ever manage to finish one.
They say you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I joined TIMJ at the very beginning and was a little wet behind the ears to say the least. Andy’s attention to detail and focus on quality and Ray’s incredible work ethic have remained my biggest inspiration all these years later. I have so many happy memories of organizing our attendance at big industry events such as the BAFTAs, Golden Joystick Awards and even E3, but miss my annual PES vs FIFA write-ups even more. My favorite memory is interviewing the lead singer of Reverend and the Makers over the phone and him telling me how Kasabian call him the pepper grinder because he always played out a draw on the tour bus.
TIMJ stood for everything I am passionate about in the games industry. Click bait articles were replaced with opinionated editorials and there was a strong focus on a thriving indie scene too. TIMJ also led the way in ditching review scores and focused on in-depth reviews of games rather than just a number.
I am now fortunate to have a career in writing and I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and support of everyone at TIMJ. I salute all the team of past and present and all that sailed the TIMJ ship.
I knew this day might come, but that doesn’t make it any less sad now it’s here.
I joined This Is My Joystick back in early 2010 and am so grateful for the opportunities and experience it’s given me. Ever since devouring Nintendo magazines as a child I dreamt of one day becoming a video-game journalist. Despite it never reaching dizzying heights of popularity, I feel that TIMJ allowed me to live that fantasy in some capacity.
I can say for certain that TIMJ had a bigger impact on my writing than anything else by far (and that includes my English Degree). Looking back at old articles it’s painfully obvious how much I improved over the years. It made me strive to write as well as I could, whether my articles were likely to be seen by 5000 people, or 500, or just 5. I experimented with style, studied grammar and was ruthlessly self-critical. I developed the confidence to write freelance for the likes of IGN and CVG.
I need to say a massive ‘thank you’ to Andy for running the site with not only his time but his own money. I also want to thank everyone who’s contributed to what has been a wonderful labour of love. As Reviews Editor it’s been a pleasure to proofread your work and be a part of your passionate output.
Finding a starting point in any career is the hardest part. This Is My Joystick was mine.
The games industry is filled with challenging – albeit enriching – opportunities, whether you want to get into art, design, marketing, even journalism. There is something for everyone if you’re seeking a professional home and are willing to put the time and effort in. I learned this very quickly working alongside Andy, Simon, and Neil. Their dedication to this website was, is, and always will be an inspiration to others. TIMJ was part of an early movement that offered something different, providing a safe haven for gamers who had opinions but didn’t have a platform to share them.
Many other independent websites came after TIMJ, but most never captured the spirit, cohesiveness, and professionalism that helped this website achieve such incredible feats. Whether it was an interview with Yuji Naka or an invitation to the BAFTA awards, TIMJ had the respect of its peers, subordinates, and stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most recognisable force in the games industry.
Without TIMJ, I would never have freelanced for Games TM, VG247 or Red Bull.
Without TIMJ, I would not be working for Pocket Gamer, helping to drive their globally recognised events initiative forward.
Frankly, without TIMJ, I wouldn’t be in the games industry at all.
So much talent has come through these doors. People who have gone on to write for national newspapers and work at game development studios. Shoutcasters. Games Media Awards nominees. Figureheads in leading communities. That is a testament to the hard work and commitment that Andy has put into this website over the years, keeping it open and alive with his unique eye for talent, his patience, and tuition.
I want to say thank you to each and every person who has worked at TIMJ and express my appreciation for anyone who has ever visited the website and read our work. Thank you for your comments, your feedback, ideas, and most importantly, your support. My time with TIMJ was crucially important to the work I do today, the position I find myself in, the opportunities available to me.
The games industry owes TIMJ more than it may ever know or fully acknowledge, but I’ll always remember. I won’t forget.
Until we meet again…
Essentially, I met Andy via a games community called CGN, playing PES and was invited to write a couple of articles. This grew into a real passion and when TIMJ was born I was given a platform to air my views on games and gaming. I’ve always felt my niche was sports games and TIMJ let me run with this with general rants, the annual FIFA v PES debate and reviews.
As a result, I’ve been lucky enough to further explore the type of games I’ve always loved, like PES, Football Manager, etc while also trying reviews of games I wouldn’t necessarily look at, opening me up to different gaming experiences. I had a good run of consecutive Eurogamer Expo visits where I regularly beat Neil Hughes at PES and FIFA.
I feel privileged to have played my small part in the TIMJ story.
TIMJ was my humble beginning and my work of passion. There was so much promise when I started in games journalism under Andy’s guidance.
I remember I had worked for a website before that left my feelings on the industry jaded and was so happy to be interviewed by both Simon and Andy, who were both fun and chummy. Were it not for their welcoming arms, I’d likely be doing something far different today, and perhaps a bit more boring.
I found games writing work and chased the dream for a few years until I graduated college. After being stabbed in the back in the thralls of a website’s success – which I won’t name – I have found myself covering hard news as a digital content producer for a national news network. I feel like I’m part of a growing and important industry.
None of this would have been possible, good or bad, without the givings of TIMJ.
I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to return to video games journalism as a career, but I enjoyed my time there immensely: two E3s, some of the best – and worst – people I’ve ever worked with, and a shared passion not found anywhere else.
Any time I look back at TIMJ, I think of how we won the Wales Blog Awards just as I was leaving the website. I thought, “You guys are going places.” To hear the news of TIMJ’s closing is one of great pain to me, as that now marks three former employers who have shuttered their doors. It seems the big get stronger and the small get smothered in this industry; quality work is also shoved to the side in favor of crowd-attractive dribble.
TIMJ never fell to such squalor.
I have worked for various game mags and sites over the years yet can honestly say that I did my best ever work at TIMJ! And that is down to the staff, especially Ray, Neil, Trent and Andy! The quality of everybody’s writing, the passion that burns through every word and the energy that goes into crafting such amazing writing is because of the high standards you guys set with your amazing pieces, forcing us all to up our game or step aside and become all the better writers for it.
Whenever I’m asked to give an example of my game-writing the first piece I always pull out is the editorial on Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the importance of message in games… because I am very proud of that piece and I am immensely proud that I wrote it for TIMJ.
So thank you all for such amazing word-smithing, and thank you letting me take part in it and learn from you all.
To TIMJ!! 🙂
Saddened to hear the news, but I think out of this you can see the good that the site has done for all. It’s fostered a wonderful atmosphere for writers, readers and all.
I thoroughly enjoyed my two stints with TIMJ; firstly as a writer and secondly as the podcast host. I never really had any belief that what I was doing meant anything. However, I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t found my belief when it comes to my creativity. I have all of you to thank for that.
I’d like to extend a hearty thank you to everyone that made the site the place it was, especially to Ray and Andy for looking after me so well during my time. Even when I accidentally released the NXE preview ahead of embargo… a lot of hits on the site that day.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity, this freedom and this experience.
Tis truly a sad moment, but it’s only a moment.
This Is My Joystick and its chieftain Andy Corrigan gave me my first real go at this games writing lark back in 2014. I hadn’t written anything that was worth reading since high school, which at that point was a good twelve years in the past, so I’m not quite sure what it was that made him think “yeah, this guy will do”. Actually, come to think of it, it was probably that he was desperate for someone to review Styx.
Andy didn’t know me from a bar of soap. I was just another egg on Twitter who yapped about video-games from time to time. Yet he was willing to give me a shot to say my piece, albeit in the written form. In the last two years, I’ve learned a great deal from both Andy and the other writers who make TIMJ such a wonderful, informative and entertaining site. Everyone here, past and present, has given me a little something to take away, and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be doing any of the freelance games writing I have been fortunate enough to get in the past few months.
I’m certain everyone here will move on to other great things, and I look forward to hearing about and seeing what they are. A massive thank you to them. But most of all, a massive “thank you” to you, the readers. Without you, none of this would’ve been worth it. Thank you.
Goodbye for now, This Is My Joystick. And thanks for all the fish.
I am really proud of my time at TIMJ; I know its a cliché, but it made me a better writer. Andy allowed me to lay out my feelings on the technology and gaming worlds my child would face, and express what I was going through as a new parent. I discovered games I wouldn’t ordinarily play and loved some, hated a few and was so-so on a bunch. Best of all, the site focused on letting me write what I was best at, and didn’t force me to write click-bait news articles nobody cared about like the previous site I worked for.
I couldn’t be happier with the work that I produced, and writing for the site was always a pleasure, never a chore. I wish I could continue for years to come but alas, my time is not what it was and the site is riding off into the sunset, farewell my friend.
My time with This Is My Joystick started whilst I was in the air, so it’s only fitting that it ends the same way.
I remember the start well. Alien: Isolation had just been released, and I only had a few hours to play it before having to jump on a cross-country flight. While I was in the air I put together a quick initial impressions piece, but had no one to pitch it to. I’d been following Andy Corrigan on Twitter as we’ve both done some work for IGN, and he tweeted that TIMJ was looking for contributors. With nothing to lose, I threw my Alien: Isolation piece at him for consideration.
Unfortunately he said it wasn’t the sort of thing he was looking for – thankfully it was subsequently picked up by another site – but asked if I would like to become a regular contributor. While I roamed the streets of Perth, Australia, a series of emails were sent between us, and by the end of the day I was on the Staff of TIMJ.
This seemed to start a pattern of me writing pieces for TIMJ while I was on the road, and often when I re-read my articles, I’m taken back to where I was at the time. My Pile of Shame piece was put together on the balcony of my hotel room in Perth, while I enjoyed a cider or two gazing over the city lights. My nominations for the TIMJ 2014 GOTY awards were written longhand in my Wolfenstein notebook whilst sitting on a bus, heading to a presentation ceremony in Jakarta. Just to name a couple.
So, here I am, on a plane again, this time heading to Kuala Lumpur, and I’m taking the time I’ve got to reflect on This Is My Joystick, and what a great experience it has been. I’d like to thank Andy for giving me a chance to develop my craft and providing me with a means of presenting it to a wide audience. I love the way it was more than just a website to him, caring personally about the content and how it’s presented. This has permeated through to all other contributors, with all of the ones I’ve communicated with being honest, genuine people with a love of gaming.
If I was to single out an event which still makes me smile, at the top would be my emails to Andy and James whilst I was in the process of reviewing Ride. With motorcycle games not being my strong point, I felt it necessary to seek guidance on what to do when you’re so bad at a game, that you just can’t progress. The email went along the lines of ‘I know we’re supposed to complete a game before reviewing, but what do you do if you really, really suck. I can’t see myself finishing a race, let alone a campaign.’ Thankfully they pointed me in the right direction and I managed to make just enough progress to get the review out.
Unfortunately, recently work and life have meant that I’ve been unable to write as much as I would have liked to, and for that I feel genuinely disappointed. This Is My Joystick has been a wonderful experience, and I wish all involved the best for the future, wherever that may take them. It has been a great joy being a part of it all.
I’ve had plenty of good times writing for TIMJ. I was always lucky enough to attend most events we’d be invited to. This meant plenty of trips to preview events, getting my hands on the Wii U weeks before it launched, interviewing developers and attending award ceremonies. I always felt like a bit of an imposter, felt like I wasn’t a ‘professional’ and didn’t deserve to be there.
Then I’d look at the work this site produced and that faded. We always maintained high standards; even if our output became sporadic towards the end it always remained consistently of a high quality.
I just want to say that being able to post news items that interested me was always a thrill. So often you see smaller blogs chase numbers as they simply regurgitate press releases and trailers from big companies. Here on TIMJ I was allowed to post about anything I wanted. If I found it interesting, if I thought others would find it interesting, if I wanted to write about it – it was fair game.
The number of gaming sites that have that attitude is pretty small. So it’s a shame that it just got smaller.
Thanks TIMJ. It’s been an honour and privilege.
It was a sad day indeed when we were told that TIMJ was going into hibernation (is anything on the internet ever really closed?). But, through my time with team, I’ve always been blown away with how different we were. You could clearly see that the site was a collection of minds with their own ideas and we weren’t rowing to a single beat. That, and the general quality of writing, is one of my most enduring memories of TIMJ. It’s been a hell of a ride and I’ve enjoyed working with some incredibly talented writers. Hopefully we’ll get to work together again in the future, but until then I’ll raise a glass for the free thinkers.
I look back on the past four years with something of a sense of surprise and wonder. I’ve been a games enthusiast since my formative years, but whilst I’d always thought it’d be great to get into the industry in some form, and still have more than the odd idle musing about coming up with the next Indie wonder (swiftly shut down by my reminding myself I have exactly no experience in the games creation field, nor any idea what such a game would entail!), I never really thought anything would come of it, and I would just spend my days sat behind a desk doing my thing at work.
With TIMJ, an opportunity I never really knew I wanted arose, thanks in no small part to my great friend Neil Hickton asking me if I fancied giving podcasting a go. After some initial hesitation (did I really want to put myself out there in audio or video form, would I be too embarrassed and clam up, would people want to listen to me), I realised I actually had quite a lot to say for myself, and a lot of years of gaming knowledge to back it up, and so took the plunge. What followed has been an all too brief part of my life, but a part that I am immensely proud of, and wouldn’t have changed if I could.
Being part of the podcast turned out to be a joy and something I looked forward to each month, chewing the fat over the latest news, interviewing some brilliant game developers, all of whom were engaging, and some of whom were just great fun to talk to. Our podcasts ran long, but often we were enjoying ourselves so much, the unedited footage ran much, much longer. That we were nominated for a GMA award in 2013 is something I still can’t quite believe now, but while we didn’t win (we were robbed I tell you, robbed!), I’ll never forget that moment, and getting to meet many people whose words I’d been reading, or podcasts I’d been listening to, for many years.
That my podcast role blossomed into writing, and ultimately editing features such as the Team Talk you’re reading now, is thanks to Andy Corrigan who encouraged me to give it a go when I said I had a couple of ideas, and then trusted in me to start picking up reviews with no history to go on. I look back on my first articles, and they were a little rough around the edges, but I’ve grown as a writer 100% due to my time on TIMJ, and whilst sadly it seems my time with games blogging is at an end, at least for now, it’s had nothing but a positive impact on me, and in my ongoing career as well.
Thanks for the memories TIMJ, I will remember them fondly!