1826 Days Later

There are funny little twists and turns in life which, at the time, may seem reckless or pointless but which, on reflection, may ultimately be your best or worst decisions.  A passing comment from someone may embed an idea into your subconscious, nagging away to the point where you’re pushed into doing something which changes the course of your life for a considerably long time, and perhaps even forever.  Even though I had bandied the concept of an article-driven site around for some time, albeit resurrecting the music mag that I once ran before closing the doors to avoid corporate corruption, the idea of a gaming website was the furthest thing from my mind in 2009.

My evenings were filled with gaming, movies, music, and relaxation, so to put this leisurely approach to life in jeopardy was something that my better half found utterly ridiculous.  I believe the term she used was “you’re fucking mental“.  In retrospect, I should have come back with “yeah, but I never knew you were mental when I met you” but I was too busy coming up with a logo in my head at the time.

Several days later, on December 23rd 2009, I did actually launch GamingLives, and my mental partner stepped up to the plate to provide me with the first purpose-written article, rather than it being flooded with copy-and-paste jobs from my own short-lived blog.  At the time I thought I was simply helping out a couple of relative strangers who were unhappy, even though it was a short while before they were able to join the team, but it was still an exciting prospect and it quickly brought back the rush from all those years ago when most of my time was spent drifting around this sceptred isle, interviewing bands and telling readers about how great/shit they were live.  It wasn’t long before GamingLives had a small team of writers, and from that point on everything changed.

Within three months we’d grown to having a bunch of enthusiastic people, all of whom enjoyed writing as much as they did playing the games themselves.  They may not have been great writers to start with, but they improved over time, yet the most important thing to come from this was the effect we all had on each other.  We had our first annual GamingLives BBQ, stuffing our faces with copious amounts of meat before speeding through the beautiful Scottish countryside in the back of a limo, probably reflecting on how bizarre it was that ten strangers had come together over a mutual love of video games and were now bundled together in the back of a car with tinted windows, heading into remote areas… perhaps some even thought they were about to be murdered.  I wish I’d thought of that at the time and rigged some bizarre prank, but we live and learn.

Over the years, those ten grew to being more than twenty, and while we may have lost all of the original team (with the exception of Ed, along with Lorna and I, obviously), those who became emotionally invested at the time will hopefully always look back at their time with GamingLives with a great deal of fondness.  I know that one particular relationship grew beyond mere friendship to being a brotherhood, and as much as I miss having them both around, and mourn the loss of my own deep friendship with them, I do often think about how improved both their lives are now from having each other, and I know that without GamingLives they would likely never have met so I take solace in that, despite the sadness.

It may have been tough at times, both in terms of how much time was being sucked away by this behemoth, as well as the emotional rollercoaster that came along with one thing or another, but we’re still here.  The towel may be raised at the end of every year and aimed directly at the ring, but it is never thrown, and still we soldier on.  The 2015 team will be the smallest we’ve ever had, but it may also end up being the tightest. The BBQ won’t be the same without that constant rabble of fifteen or twenty people babbling on about achievements, or how EA are being wankers, but we’ll still all get together and reflect on everything we’ve experienced over the past twelve months and enjoy Ed dressing up as Dara O’ Briain as we enjoy another round of ‘Fuck The Weak‘.  We’ll never again have the incredible atmosphere that we did in 2012 when the entire team, ex-writers, and our favourite German forum-brother all sat around slagging off the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, or hear another pitch quite like ‘Maddie or Chips‘. But we won’t have thrown in the towel, despite how tempting it may be at times.

Ultimately, GamingLives started out as a way to bring people together.  It was never really about the games, and it’s a shame that the content itself has evolved to being review-led rather than the original concept of nothing but personal opinions, but at its core is still about the people.  Those who give what time they can to us, and who continue to grow as writers.  I doubt we’ll still be around in another five years; in fact, I’m always surprised that we even re-open the doors in January every year after all the Best-Of articles have run their course, but while we’re still here I’d just like to offer thanks.  Thanks to the team of dedicated writers who work hard to ensure that we still have content to go up as often as possible, thanks to the 150,000-strong readership that comes back month after month to see what we have to say for ourselves, and thanks to those who are no longer part of the team but who helped to create some lasting memories.

It was always about the journey.

Last five articles by Mark R


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