Friday, August 17, 2012

KGB Interview: Ladies and Gentlemen, Justin McElroy of Polygon

Recently, Chris had the chance to talk with one of our favorite personalities from the world of games. Justin McElroy was at Joystiq for years, before becoming a founding member of Polygon. He's also the host of the hilarious My Brother, My Brother, and Me podcast. Justin sat down and talked with us about the formation of Polygon, creative burnout, his many successful podcasts, and more!

Hey Justin. Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed. Don't worry, there's only ten questions!
Q: First off, can you give us a brief overview of who you are, and what you do at Polygon?

I'm the managing editor, which is basically a coordinating role. I try to keep our department heads of news, features and reviews working in sync. I also fill in for our editor-in-chief Chris Grant when needed.

Q: In addition to Polygon, you also have quite a few side projects going on. The most recent of which is your television podcast, “The Satellite Dish” with your lovely wife Sydnee. How did that come to be?

Sydnee and I had done a few goofy semi-shows before, but never anything too formal. We had been drinking wine one night and Two and a Half Men was about to relaunch with Ashton Kutcher and both of us admitted we were curious about how it would go, even though we'd never watched. So we decided to watch and record our reaction, which was our first show, Losing the Sheen. After a while, the gags got stale, so we branched out to all of TV.

Q: You also appear on the wildly popular humor/advice podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me with your brothers Griffin and Travis. I don’t think I’ve ever known brothers to be as close as you guys seemingly are. Did you three have as close a relationship being starting to do the show?

We had always been close, but the show was actually created to help all of us stay in touch better, as we all moved to separate locales. I'd recommend it to anyone, actually. Make a podcast, stay in touch.

Q: Do you ever get overwhelmed, attempting to create so much content on a near-weekly basis? Do you see yourself slowing down at some point?

Sometimes I feel creatively drained, for sure. But when that happens I try to contrast myself with people who have actual, difficult jobs that are actually hard and I'm able to suck it up.

Q: How did you get into videogame journalism? Everyone seems to have a unique story about breaking into the business.

I did my first game reviews at 12 in the local newspaper. After I got my degree in acting and directing, I decided to pursue writing as a career (go figure). I actually started in traditional journalism, covering local government and education for a couple of newspapers. I picked up game writing on the side and somehow pushed my way into a full career.

Q: Polygon is a sort of Voltron of gaming press. When did you guys come together for the first time? Was there ever a point where you second guess your decision to join the team?

We all were in the same room for the first time in February of this year, but we'd been assembling the team for a month or so before that. It was really lucky that we were able to able to get most of the people on our team, it just sort of lined up that way. As far as second guessing, I was obviously totally conflicted about leaving Joystiq and a team of people I loved, but I just felt like it was time for a new challenge.

Q: The layout and depth of coverage at Polygon is quite unique amongst gaming sites. How do you see the field changing in the future?

I wouldn't dare to guess.

Q: Can you remember (or talk about) any particularly big faux pas you’ve made in your career?

When I first wrote this post it had a big picture of the XBox Guide button on it. I have no fucking idea what I was thinking. I mean, it's got a big X on it, I guess, but still.
Q: On the flip side, is there a particular story, review, etc. you’re particularly proud of from your career? Any stories that got a lot of comments/ discussion you weren’t expecting?

I think I'd have to say the Joystiq Podcast. If people know who I am, it's almost certainly related to my work on that show. It took folks a while to come around, but once they did, they really embraced me on the show with Chris and Ludwig, and it meant the world to me. A real community formed around that show, and I think that's what I'm proudest of.

Q: We like to end our interviews with this simple question. What is your favorite game of all time?

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Thanks, Justin! 

And we leave you, with this classic:

For more of Justin's work, check out:

Christopher Linendoll might have a man-crush on Mr. McElroy. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.

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