I stand at the end of the pier.
A gull screech.
I skipped class again.
And it doesn’t matter.
I walk across the university terrace.
I enter the woods.
I sit on a rock.
The rain comes down louder.
I look up at the trees.
I wonder about the confusion between man and nature.
I close my eyes and think of The End.
I smell the earth.
A dead log in front of me: Bright moss glowing.
No music to play. No poems to write.
Raw, desolate peace.
I stand up and walk into the city.
I stand beneath the awning in front of the library.
I waited for a girl here once.
She never showed up.
I watch a saxophonist belt out some jazz across the street.
I watch him get into it.
I listen to his interpretation of noise.
Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.
I cut the end off a cigar.
I sit down on the cobbled brick.
I watch the jazz player tear everything up.
What was the sense of him being out here in the rain?
Not much money thrown around.
I light the cigar and watch the smoke hang.
The saxophonist stops after a while. He waves to me.
I nod back.
I get up and trudge deeper into the city.
I stand outside the Gamestop.
The last time: I came to pick up The King of Fighters XI.
The clerk was hungover and irritated.
I was trying to learn how to be social.
I tried to start a conversation with him while he was cashing me out:
‘So, I was really surprised this came out here!’
He looked at me.
I walked out.
I walk in.
One clerk. One manager.
I walk around the store.
Look at the used games, the new games.
The clerk begins a conversation with me.
We talk about fighting games.
We talk about games.
We talk about graphics, systems, lighting.
I needed that. I needed to talk.
Another customer walks in.
He enters the conversation.
He is awkward and grating.
He has nothing to say. He keeps talking.
He would be eliminated in the first round.
His girlfriend calls him, wondering where he is.
He tells her that he missed the bus and he’s hanging out with his friends.
An hour has passed and the manager is angry.
I walk out.
I walk home.
I try to remember a haiku by Bashō about cherry blossoms.
And I watch everything drip with a blunt, hateful love.
The internet was a void.
The discussion around games was dry.
Reviews. Releases. Previews. Business deals.
There was no heart in any of it.
There was no love to it.
There was no concern about it.
The discussion was looking for legitimacy.
It was seeking out the specter of the objective.
The culture was insulated and alone.
And Insert Credit rejected all of it.
It was a new discussion in an honest language.
Years before I began reading IC, it had already influenced my exposure.
It was where my brother discovered rRootage.
It was where a friend introduced my brother and I to MAME.
I began reading it myself.
Each day I spent hours churning through the archives.
Devouring what I had missed.
The stories were subtle. They shifted.
Some were small bits of Japanese gaming culture.
Some were about the intersection of games and culture.
Insert Credit refused the objective.
It refused insulation.
It threw games and pieces of games into the world.
The tone shifted often.
Excited. Cautious. Curious. Introspective.
The narratives were never complete.
IC required the reader to follow-up on their own.
It tried to be the catalyst for growth.
It had expectations.
Sometimes it required curiosity.
Sometimes it required patience.
When I first read Brendan Lee’s infamous feature, I wept.
I wept out of sadness about where games were going.
I wept out of remorse for contributing to the process described.
I wept because it resonated deep inside the guts of my mind.
It changed the way I saw games and the industry around them forever.
Insert Credit woke me.
It was where I learned to rip games apart.
It was where I learned about hardware.
It was where I learned about voice.
Insert Credit was an arcade of a website.
It was a dark glow.
It was full of people who cared.
It was a resonant world.
It became a space of critical emotion.
And one day it all evaporated.
When Insert Credit stopped, it hit hard.
I used Kotaku to fill that space.
I had just graduated. I was unemployed.
I spent two years trying to be a journalist.
I tried to write about video games on Suite 101.
I started my first blog. I wrote about politics and the Middle East.
It was all terrible.
I was lost.
Kotaku was unfulfilling on its own.
I looked for more.
I found Select Button: A site formed in the absence of Insert Credit.
It maintained the aesthetic.
It was a temporary shelter.
I traced IC’s wreckage anywhere I could.
I found Tim Rogers again at Action Button.
I discovered Mecha Damashii.
I followed Brandon Sheffield on Gamasutra.
Insert Credit’s implosion created the space to further understand their voices.
It pushed me to observe their ideas in different venues.
This sustained me in the years of inactivity.
I moved from Wisconsin to Rochester, NY.
I got my first job after giving up being a journalist.
I worked as a temp in a Blockbuster Distribution Center.
I saw the games people rented.
It took me awhile to get used to this place.
I read Tim’s review of Bangai-O Spirits.
I spent an afternoon driving to any Gamestop I could looking for it.
It was the first time I made an effort to discover this city.
And Bangai-O Spirits was beautiful.
I gave up writing in my blog.
I gave up writing a novel about being trapped in Lebanon in 2006.
I gave up on social media.
I played games.
I read about games.
DoDonPachi Daioujou became an obsession.
Brandon’s words about Ketsui lingered in my eyes.
Every few days I tried to revisit Insert Credit.
And always nothing.
It was lonely.
Its absence still lingered.
And one night, it came back.
Insert Credit had a new page.
It was coming back.
I was in my bedroom.
My eyes widened in front of the screen.
I was shocked.
I was thankful.
The new Insert Credit is larger than itself.
The new Insert Credit is Tim Rogers and Action Button Entertainment.
The new Insert Credit is Brandon Sheffield and Necrosoft Games.
The new Insert Credit is a podcast full of humor and consideration.
The new Insert Credit is still old Insert Credit with more patience and focus.
Its ideas have spread beyond the written word.
Its ideas, its tone, its warmth, its concern are embedded now.
Watching Insert Credit grow has been a lesson in creative endurance.
Where most game sites would settle for a simple redesign…
Where most game sites would never allow themselves the space to fall…
Where most game sites could never build on their core concepts in new ways…
IC did it all and still stands today.
I started this blog in April 2014.
I started it after seeing Videoball at PAX East.
I spent two days standing at that booth.
Nothing else I saw at the expo mattered.
True to Insert Credit:
Videoball was a million big ideas sliced up into consumable mechanics.
It was a game that cared about games.
I left Boston feeling awake again.
I built this blog off the one I abandoned.
I deleted all the entries.
And I wrote my first post about Videoball.
After three years, a video game made me want to write again.
Insert Credit made me want to find my own voice.
Insert Credit changed me.
It helped me find myself in my writing.
I can’t help but imagine there are a lot of stories like this in the world.
I can’t help but wonder how many others Insert Credit has spurred into action and exploration.
It’s been over a decade since IC launched and the fundamental sadness surrounding it is how entrenched game journalism still is.
Some sites have eliminated numbered scoring for game reviews.
Some sites have tried to post more subjective, experiential content.
But the discussion around games is still full of hype and garbage.
The writing is still bland and lifeless.
The culture is still intolerant and insulated.
That’s why Insert Credit still matters.
That’s why Insert Credit will always be necessary.
It is an inspiring work of endurance and precision.
It is an aesthetic, a philosophy, driven by people who still give a damn.
It’s the punk and the jester.
It’s the saxophonist, the noise, and the rain.