Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm Not Dead Yet!: A Requiem for Future US

I think it's safe to say that Known Griefers, as you know and love it, wouldn't exist were it not for the influence of a select few websites. Chief among them being GamesRadar. Founded in 2005, GR quickly found its niche by producing incredibly funny and unique features, not only about games specifically, but also about the act of playing them. Through seemingly divine intervention, GR assembled a dream team of contributors, each with their own unique and hilarious voice. Sadly, things have taken a turn for the worse lately over at GamesRadar, and Future US as a whole.

As best I can remember, it was sometime in 2008 when I discovered GamesRadar, after Rock suggested I check out some of their Top 7s. Every Monday, GR produces a Top 7 list about an incredibly specific topic from the world of gaming. Past highlights have included Top 7s about Native American stereotypes, shower scenes, drunks, and sexy horses. Finding such hysterical and personal articles like these on GamesRadar was a far cry from the sterilized news and trailers I was accustomed to finding on IGN or (a post-Gerstmann) GameSpot.

I have always enjoyed writing, although once I left college I never really had an outlet to continue my writing beyond things like journals, which I'd always abandon. Reading the features on GR gave me incredible inspiration to continue writing, and to encourage me to always try to be a little funnier, a little more clever. I mean, when you have Paul Ryan writing hilarious content like Facts About the Ice World, my stupid-ass Facebook statuses just can't hold up.

The GamesRadar crew, circa 2008
After following GR's output for a few months, I saw that they had recently started up a podcast. To be honest, I can't remember ever listening to ANY podcast before TalkRadar, and I'm not entirely sure why I made the decision to download TDar in the first place. But, to say that it was life-changing wouldn't be too far off the mark. The sense of camaraderie, off-the-cuffness, honesty, and passion the hosts of TalkRadar displayed was cocaine for my ears. I've always been a sucker for shocking toilet humor, and Chris Antista's story of watching a dog shit on it's own balls was right up my alley. I'm sure that means I am a terrible person.

Like I was saying, the sense of camaraderie that was apparent on those early episodes of TalkRadar is really what turned me into such a huge fan. I've always had a difficult time keeping in touch with people in my own personal life, so in a way I think the TDar crew became my friends, purely through my listening to their show. The hosts of TDar actively encouraged fan participation, and they were showered in fan art, phone calls, and promotional bumpers which they always talked about and thanked their fans for. This level of interaction was, and sadly still is, incredibly different than the way most other outlets handle their community. If you were to comment in an IGN article, you could almost always be assured it'd go unnoticed by the authors, swallowed up in a black hole of mindless mouth-breathers.

Listening to the various GamesRadar staff on TDar only increased my level of interest in their text-based content. Hearing Brett Elston passionately talk about his article on colored game cartridges made me go seek it out, otherwise, I might have skipped right over it. The voices of each of the staff was easily heard in their articles, and after a while you could know who wrote any particular article without reading the byline. It was good fun to know that Chris Antista found pictures of Sonic riding things to be so dumb they needed their own article, and that Mikel Reparaz turned his knowledge of world history into Top 7s about Custer's Revenge.

Just last year, I was lucky enough to attend a live recording of TalkRadar at PAX East in Boston. Seeing Antista, Elston, Tyler Wilde, Lizzie Cuevas, Dan Amrich, and others in person, talking about dumb shit, and drinking way too much beer, was a blast. It was at that show that Rock and I met Humor Tumor and AGTurbo for the first time, long after we'd heard their names on TalkRadar, and read their posts in the GR forums. In person, the TDar hosts were incredibly gracious and seemed genuinely thrilled to have their fans around them and contributing to the show. Good times were had by all, and that show started the snowball that became this website, right here.

It's like a KGB Where's Waldo?!
Unfortunately, things over at GamesRadar have not been going as well lately. Several of the core staff have left in the past year, beginning with Tyler Wilde's departure to PC Gamer. Brett Elston took his love of Mega Man and Street Fighter over to Capcom, where he is now their Community Manager. Lizzie Cuevas left to join the world of PR, and Chris Antista followed Tyler to PC Gamer. If there's anything good about these guys leaving it's that they all left on good terms. Antista has still been a fixture on TalkRadar, although he has handed his hosting duties over to Mikel. And the guys have started their own podcast, independently, at

A buncha nerds.
All this is fine and well, people come and go fairly regularly in the world of journalism, and especially so games journalism. But on Thursday, the hammer fell over at Future US, the parent company of GamesRadar, OXM, PTOM, PC Gamer and Nintendo Power. A total of 19 jobs were cut, including 5 members of the GamesRadar staff. Cheryll Del Rosario, Matt Keast, Mike Grimm, Carolyn Gudmundson, and Andy Bauman were all given their terminations. @Gamer staffer Chuck Osborn was also among those cut. All of these people brought unique talents to their jobs, and it's a shame to see them go. Mike and Matt were become much more regular guests on TalkRadar, which was edited by Bauman. Cheryll did amazing graphic design work for years and Carolyn might be among the biggest Pokemon fans in the western world.

I recently asked Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb, himself no stranger to shakeups at corporate websites, how he felt about the layoffs: 

Do you feel like Giant Bomb and Vox are a direct result of increasing corporate control over traditional gaming journalism? Will independent sites become the norm? 

"What happened at Future has nothing to do with "increasing corporate control." They're a company that, for years, has been firmly entrenched in the shrinking print magazine market and an increasingly challenging ad market. It's incredibly unfortunate that jobs were lost, but not especially surprising that they'd need to make an adjustment like this." 

He's right, of course. Future US still makes its money from advertising, and the majority of that advertising is from their magazines. As traditional print media continues its downward spiral, it's up to companies like Future to find out how to stay profitable in the digital space. It's a shame then, that they have continually allowed highly intelligent and talented people to leave GamesRadar in droves. GamesRadar is their one property that ISN'T print based, and yet it always seems to get the least amount of attention from the higher-ups.

A classic TDar fan art from Batman5273, now of Front Towards Gamer.
It's a sad thing to watch GamesRadar go through these growing pains, and I hope they can come out of this slump stronger than before. TalkRadar continues, with Mikel growing into his hosting duties rather nicely. Logan Decker, editor of PC Gamer, has been leading the way trying to find his former co-workers new jobs, and hopefully Mike Grimm and Matt Keast will continue to appear on LaserTime. My heart goes out to all of those affected by these recent layoffs, and hopefully everything will work out for the best.

Special thanks to Batman5273 for use of his image, be sure to check out his work at FrontTowardsGamer.

Christopher Linendoll is pouring one out. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.


  1. Figure I'll just jump in down here. It's a damn shame what's happened over at Future, and especially at GamesRadar. The first time I heard of them was in an ad in PC Gamer, talking about the Top 7 gamer stereotypes. I checked it out and I fell in love. My morning ritual became reading Top 7s while eating my breakfast, trying not to spit cereal onto my keyboard. Back then, the site was primarily feature-driven, and the quality of the articles was top notch. It's been hard to watch what's seemed like a slow downward slide, and with the staff departures over the last year and a half, it leaves me feeling very uncertain about the future of a site that quickly became a favorite. More than anything else, GamesRadar inspired us to start this site. With the bulk of the people who so strongly contributed to the identity of GamesRadar now gone, it feels like the end of an era. It feels like my favorite band, the band that inspired me to get into music, just broke up.... I know that Chris and I both have been enjoying the contend at GamesRadar a lot less as time has gone on and the focus of the site has changed. I really hope that everyone lands on their feet.

  2. It's weird, I was never much into GamesRadar, but a lot of the happiness you describe deriving with their off-brand humor journalism is a direct parallel to the those I ended up feeling a strong affinity to, namely Idle Thumbs and The Hotspot (and eventually Giant Bomb, of course, where I met up with you fellows).

    It's interesting to see something so amazing was happening concurrently without being the slightest bit aware.

    1. Yeah Pat hadn't really heard of them before, either. They were so fantastic....

  3. Also a special mention for Gamespy Debriefings (RIP), and Rebel FM (which I can no longer listen to, since Arthur Geis is an overly negative shitbag).

  4. Good night, sweet prince.

    But long live Laser Time! The spirit of TalkRadar will live on as long as our podbros continue to podcast together.


    Hope you've found out about The Comedy Button by now...

    1. Oh, geez, of course. I gave them 20 bucks when they were doing the drive.