Joystiq Once Gave Great Coverage To Second Life, It will Be A Shame If It Disappears

re/code recently reported : AOL Likely to Shutter Gaming Site Joystiq in Larger Content Cleanup. This has not been confirmed yet, but Joystiq themselves responded to the rumour :

Sources tell Joystiq that the staff is aware of the closure, but corporate hasn’t officially told them, so they are unable to acknowledge anything out of concern that it will cause immediate shutdown. We’ve reached out for more information. We will update, as we always have, when we know more.

This post may start to sound like an obituary, so let’s get some things cleared up here near the start. The rumours about Joystiq closing remain simply that, rumours. However they look like bloody well informed rumours. There have been no comments regarding what this all means for Massively. The talk is of a restructure.

You may be wondering “Who cares”, but the simple fact of the matter is that Joystiq has been a good friend of Second Life in the past. Largely due to sites such as Second Life Insider that then got merged into Massively. There are plenty of posts from the Second Life category over at Massively. The output certainly slowed down over the years, especially once Tateru Nino moved on. However Beau Hindman did keep up the good fight and Moo Money and Eloise Pasteur, who blogged about Second Life earlier also deserve a mention.

You can go all the way back to 2006 for a history of Second Life Insider. Back then the site was part of Weblogs, which was part of the same network as Joystiq. The bloggers back then were people such as Akela Talamasca, Callandris Pendragon, Aimee Weber, Master Penguin and Local Jezebel. The site had a more fansite appeal.

Back in October 2008 Massively interviewed Tateru Nino : Meet the Team: Tateru Nino, who explained what she did at Massively :

I’m a general writer, though I act as the team specialist for collaborative virtual worlds (particularly Second Life), and legal analysis. I help brainstorm and do some proofreading, and examine the philosophy of MMOs and virtual environments.

Eventually Second Life Insider would become part of the main Massively site, but even before that happened Massively were covering Second Life. On a site more about games and MMO’s in particular, this wasn’t always popular, as a post from November 2007 addresses : Why Second Life belongs at Massively :

Or: Why gamers and virtual worlders should care about each other.

We’re shy of a month in to Massively’s existence, and one of the more persistent bits of feedback we continue to receive regards the inclusion of Second Life content on a site about MMOs. There are really two questions to answer here:

  1. Does Second Life coverage belong on Massively at all?
  2. Is the amount of Second Life content disproportionate to its mindshare?

I will herein state a claim for a definitive yes on point 1, and readily admit that point 2 is arguably a matter of taste. Maintaining editorial balance surrounding all of the many, varied games we cover is an ongoing process, and we’ve selected a suite of “core games” based on many factors including subscriber/member numbers, overall buzz and mindshare in the industry, and input from a secret algorithm I would love to call “interestingness” if it weren’t already taken. We are proud to offer in-depth Second Life coverage as one of those core current titles.

Those sort of discussions would rage on whenever Second Life was talked about, it still happens today.

However what happened with sites like Second Life Insider and later, Massively, was that it brought the comings and goings of a virtual world such as Second Life to a wider audience. As I’ve pointed out, that wider audience didn’t always appreciate this, but that’s not the point!

The Second Life posts were not always Linden Lab friendly, there were controversial posts, negative posts and posts that people disagreed about. However it was all good publicity. Generally gaming sites look down on Second Life, Massively as an organisation and part of Joystiq most definitely did not look down on Second Life.

With a resurgence in virtual worlds likely over the next couple of years, having sites that will happily include that content in areas where such content may not be initially popular is important. Getting the concept of virtual worlds to a wider audience is very important.

There are other issues regarding this rumoured closure too, how media moves forward in a fast changing landscape. That’s really another blog post for another day, but the way we consume media is most definitely changing.

Joystiq played an important role in this the first time around, it will be shame if they aren’t playing a role when the new wave hits.

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