a requiem for a podcast; the fall of 1up

mea culpa, mea culpa! its been way too long but things have been pretty crazy over the christmas break. i have been absent from these pages for far too long. i want to jump right into the post by giving a brief personal update for those of you who haven’t heard how things are going for me just at the present. first, i had to move back down to birmingham, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because i lost my classes i was teaching at university of alaska anchorage for the spring semester. enrollment has dropped because of the economy and adjunct faculty are the first to go in those situations. so i dropped the hammer and popped back to bham where i was more likely to pick up a teaching gig because of the abundance of universities and colleges. well, that didn’t happen either, but i am filling a couple of classes for a local high school and working nights at gamestop (the one on 280 next to best buy — stop in and say “hi!”). and that’s cool because it gives me plenty of time to chill, play games, write, and recover from surgery…

yup, you read that right, cowboys, ol’ uncle ike has to go under the knife again for the second time in one year. i have a “massively distended abdominal hernia” that is one of the biggest my doctor has ever seen (i bet he says that to all his cute guy patients, ha ha) that will require relatively immediate attention. which, as i am uninsured, will cost a pretty penny. ergo, i am going to have to postpone my phd for a year in oreder to avoid going into a degree in the uk with massive amounts of debt hanging over my head. so in a couple of weeks i head back into the hospital to deal with a problem that was the result of my previous surgery.

one way or another, i’m glad we caught it and i can get it fixed relatively easily, even if it does require wire mesh in my abdomen for the rest of my life. but in the meantime, there are much more important things, both in news and in what i’ve been playing.

first a really sad piece of news that most of my readers will not know about (if you’ve stumbled onto my blog and you are not my friend on facebook or twitter than you probably already know this info). if you’ve ridden in the car with me anytime during the last year or if we’ve hung out for any extended period of time, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the 1up radio network. the 1up radio network was run by ziff davis media in conjunction with egm (electronic gaming monthly), which was, shy of one month, the longest running rag in the video game/pc gaming community. unfortunately, in our relatively poor economy (compared only to our own economy) and in the era of free media on the internet, a non-industry supported franchise was fighting an uphill battle.

on monday of last week, ugo entertainment (and i have to honestly tell you, i still have no idea what “ugo” stands for. i know it stands for something because its written in capital letters — except for in my blog — and i’m sure there’s a universal in there somewhere. if anyone knows please share it with me) a subsidiary of hearst media and entertainment, bought out egm and 1up, promptly shuttered egm the print mag and fired 30 employees of 1up. they lost there jobs, found out about it, and had a day to clean out there offices. there are plenty of blogs and recounting from insiders and mavens that discuss the issue so i won’t go into details here, but i do want to make two observations.

first, i am constantly amazed and the organic interconnectedness of the global marketplace in our preset times. although one could argue that the downfall of print media, and even the fall of the paid enthusiast press at a website like 1up (where content was essentially free) hinges on this very same principal, it is truly amazing that i, not even an industry insider, knew that this had happened via my friends at 1up on facebook and twitter, before the news hit the stands (or the internet billboards if you will). the immediate and compassionate outpouring of support was truly something amazing to watch, and as jay fresh, one of the laid of 1upers said in response to the outpouring in those first few days for the 1up crew: “i just want to give the internet a big hug.” that might be the tag line for the past decade.

and, as tragic as it is, in an industry sense, it is a blessing in many ways as well. no more than a day after the team at 1up was laid off, seven of the more prominent and outspoken podcasters had a two hour podcast up and running at eat-sleep-game.com, newly christened “rebel.fm”. within two days of that posting, rebel.fm’s inaugural podcast had become the number one podcast on itunes, as of sat night, it was still in the top ten. their bandwidth was brutalized. ryan scott starting a new show, and others have already found their feet. sometime in the next couple of days is the next rebel.fm podcast and rumour has it that shane “the mangod” bettenhausen will be announcing his intentions (for those of you who don’t know, that’s a scope in this industry) on the podcast. out of the ashes, as it were.

for me, 1up sparked a bit of an academic spark in my own trunk that maybe my love of games and my professional life could be mixed a bit, somehow. and there was one simple reason for why this was the case: the people behind 1up, everyone of them (except for tina, ha ha) were bright, dedicated and passionate individuals. and mostly geeks, too. but that was totally cool. and i don’t just mean bright in a sort of amorphous manner. i mean some of these guys had chops. they could really write well and idiomatically. they had their own individual styles and perceptions, but were professional about it. too many game mags and sites (professionally run) think its about just slapping something down on the paper and posting it up there. but when you listened to the 1upers, especially the writing staff, they would always talk about how it was more important for you to be a writer first and a gamer second. that is not the norm in this industry. they had personality, style, and a bit of panache. sure there were lots of times when they sounded of a big fu to the world, both in the gaming arena and outside, but that was mostly because they believed in their product.

the 1up podcasts, particularly garnett, shane, luke, john, shawn, david, jeff, skip, and the others who participated in the 1up yours show, are indelibly imprinted in my gaming consciousness. my ipod will miss them. my car rides will miss them. and although player one, giant bomb, idle thumbs, first wall rebate, the brainy gamer, and yes, even rebel.fm are great and i look forward to exploring the world of gaming with them, i will miss the classics. this is, in many ways, the end of an era in games journalism. while the industry will grow and change in many other ways, probably many off them better, there won’t ever be another crew like those folks. garnett, tina, ryan and the others who were left behind at 1up hae a hard job ahead of them, rebuilding with much smaller resources, and i have faith in them and look forward to what they accomplish. rebel.fm, talking orange, ryan scott and the others will do some awesome things, i know. but the king is dead. long live the other guy.

i didn’t quite mean to go on so long about 1up, but they meant a lot to me. tomorrow i’ll hop back on here and write up some thoughts on narrative interactivity in prince of persia and talk a bit about all the other stuff i’ve been playing over the holidays, but until then, keep your books out beside your games (which at this time is a history of the special forces). i’m out.


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