Ok, deep breath.
My last day at Polygon will be August 15th.
I've been deliberating how to write that for literally months, but there it is. I'm leaving Polygon, which I helped to co-found in 2012.
I'm not leaving for a job at another outlet, which would be totally fine, or to take a position in PR or development, though that would also be fine. Instead, I will effectively semi-retire from the games press as I start a new chapter in my life. At the end of August, I begin a Masters of Fine Arts program at SFAI, with a focus in painting and drawing.
I suppose I'm not leaving games completely. I will continue to produce and appear on Rebel FM, talking about games and whatever else we all feel like, and theoretically I may pick up a freelance gig here or there, as well as dip a toe or three or four into some consulting work, because, as it turns out, graduate school is really, really expensive. I still care about games, and I love talking about them, and if I have some kind of opportunity to help someone make something better, then that feels like a good, productive opportunity.
That said, my priority and the only thing that could really tear me away from Polygon is this new thing, which, in actuality, is an old thing. The only thing I've done for as long as I've played games and have been able to read is drawing. I went to an arts high school; My undergraduate degree was a double major, one of which was studio art. Somehow, while completing that degree, something clicked in my head with the direction that video game coverage was going with sites like 1up and Joystiq and Kotaku. It was thought-provoking and exciting, and I decided to pursue it, and somehow, against a lot of odds, I ended up doing it.
That all took a lot of work and somewhere along the way, art became a hobby I neglected. But almost two years ago exactly, my life went through a series of upheavals, and I started to think seriously about what it all looked like, and what I wanted out of it. I started taking art more seriously again, and around last April after returning from a trip overseas, I really committed to it. And as I had conversations with friends and artists I knew, many of whom had decided to pursue atelier or masters programs, I felt ... well, a pull. And that pull has only become more powerful over the last year. A lot of old feelings and emotions and desires came rushing back in.
At the end of 2011, if you had asked me what I would regret ten years later, it would be not risking my career to help start Polygon. And last year, as I looked at what I wanted out of my life and where I wanted it to go, I knew that in ten years, the biggest regret I could possibly have would be ignoring this pull, not following it to see where it takes me. I feel so ridiculously lucky to have been able to write about video games professionally for the last eight years - almost eight years exactly, as my first published and paid game review, for Guitar Hero 5, ran on Gamespy - but ... this isn't all I want from my life. This isn't the only thing I want to be.
Now feels like the right time for this, for a variety of reasons. Phil Kollar, who has tolerated draconian edits and vats of virtual red ink from me for almost six years now, will be assuming the role of Reviews Editor at Polygon, which is a colossal relief. My conscience feels clean. I've had the privilege of watching Phil become a better writer and editor, and I take a lot of pride in whatever small part I had to play in that. I know that Phil cares about Polygon and the reviews that we write as much as I did, and still do, and I also look forward to the changes I'm sure will come as he puts his own stamp on the section. I look forward to the space my absence will create to find more, and more diverse, voices to showcase in Polygon's reviews.
I also feel more confident than I ever have about the people at Polygon I've come to see as my extended and occasionally dysfunctional family. There are challenges, and difficulty, and even pain and loss and grief, and I believe with all my heart that they are capable of handling all of those things as they navigate the media landscape that exists now and in the future. I don't think anyone or any group of people can get everything right all the time - the ground moves beneath our feet too quickly not to trip or stumble sometimes. But I have only grown more sure of the desire at Polygon to try to do the right thing, even if it's the hard thing.
I know that Allegra, Jeff, Simone, Ashley, Patrick, Clayton, Tara, Julia, Susana, Samit, Charlie, Chelsea, Dave, Pat, Ben, Mike, Owen, Colin, Matt, Russ, Chris, and Ross have got this. I love all of you.
Also, don't fuck this up, because I have equity and did I mention student loans? Because seriously. Student loans.
Of course, I owe a massive, unpayable debt to Chris Grant, who gave me an opportunity to do this big, impossibly hard thing with Polygon in the first place, and who has been incredibly magnanimous as I've both navigated my entrance to graduate school while trying to disentangle myself from a section that I held on to so tightly, too tightly at times, even. I owe the McElroy brothers so much as well; it was Justin that made overtures to hire me on to Joystiq back in 2011, and it was a dinner with Justin and Griffin at PAX in 2011 where I thought about what I might do there. Later, the three of them were kind enough to bring me with them when Jim Bankoff and Marty Moe at Vox Media decided they wanted to do a games vertical to go along with the tech site they were just about to launch. I think it's called This Is My Next now or something like that. Thank you to Jim and to Marty for not looking at my Twitter feed and writing me off immediately.
And to Chris Plante, Russ Frushtick, Brian Crecente, and Russ Pitts, who were also dumb enough to try to start a new big games site in 2011, thank you.
To the unofficial-but-official Polygon employees David Zhou and Jake Lear, there's a reason you still got tshirts. Thank you.
I guess, finally, thank you. I wouldn't have actually been able to do any of this if some people hadn't occasionally read some of it, so in a very real way, I owe you all that success. So, really, thank you. The supportive comments helped when the ... well, let's call them ... unsupportive comments made things more difficult.
To the freelancers I edited ... I mean, jesus. I'm really sorry. I hope it felt better coming out of the end of it than it did going through it. If you got through our massive wall of applications and actually found work, there's a good chance it was thanks to Megan Farokmanesh, who I love even though she is now dead to all of us at Polygon because she went to that other place.
Shit. I guess that's me now too.
It's a weird thing, this world, but it's not usually a bad one. I hope that I helped to make it a better one where I could most of the time, and I'm sorry I didn't do better. I'll keep trying.
- Arthur Gies