So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish


Four years ago today, I launched the Ontological Geek1 with a long and ram­bling expla­na­tion of why, wait for it, games can be art.  As you might expect, the essay was awk­ward and unfo­cused, jump­ing from topic to topic and tone to tone.  I tried to deploy my recent­ly earned phi­los­o­phy degree by scat­ter­ing ref­er­ences to Hume, Rorty, Wittgenstein and Plato through­out the paper, impress­ing no one, I’m sure.  At the end of the piece,2 I sug­gest­ed that real­ly the only way to find out if games can be art is to talk about them assum­ing that they are, and see if it works.  The proof, I said, would be in the pud­ding.

Four years later, I guess I’m not sure we’ve proven any­thing about games-as-art, but I do think we have proven that there is a lot of neat stuff to say about games.  I also think that it’s time some­one else took the reins.

I’m lucky enough to be start­ing law school at the University of Minnesota here in about two weeks, and I don’t believe I can do both at the same time.  (At least, not well.)  Accordingly, my friend and fel­low OntoGeek con­trib­u­tor Hannah DuVoix is tak­ing over as Editor-in-Chief of the site, start­ing today.

Hannah is going to do a won­der­ful job.  I’ve known her since well before the site exist­ed, and she has exact­ly the right mix of intel­li­gence, enthu­si­asm, per­se­ver­ance and wit nec­es­sary to not only keep the site run­ning smooth­ly, but steer it towards big­ger and bet­ter things.  She’s got this, and I’m real­ly excit­ed to see where the site goes from here.

The Ontological Geek has been a cen­ter­piece of my life for the last four years.  Whatever else I was doing, there was the Ontological Geek wait­ing for me at home.  Whether I was work­ing from home or unem­ployed or work­ing at a desk or wait­ing tables 60 hours a week, if I did­n’t get the OntoGeek work done, it would­n’t get done.  Sometimes, that meant it did­n’t get done.  But that respon­si­bil­i­ty kept me ground­ed through some weird times.  As a result of run­ning the site and work­ing with the other writ­ers, I’ve become a clear­er writer, a wiser thinker, and a bet­ter man­ag­er.  I’m sure I would­n’t have been accept­ed into the school I was with­out the lessons I learned from run­ning this site.

I hope to still be around in some capac­i­ty — I can’t imag­ine I could just wan­der off com­plete­ly — but I no longer have any offi­cial com­mit­ments to the site, and that gives me a deep sense of ver­ti­go.  I love this site, I love the peo­ple that make it hap­pen, and I love the niche we’ve carved out in games-criticism as a whole.  I hope you’ve grown to love it, too.

Writing about games is a Weird Thing.  This is most­ly because games are Weird Things.  Games-writing is a loose affil­i­a­tion of jour­nal­ists, mar­keters, aca­d­e­mics, eSports fans, crit­ics, come­di­ans, review­ers and good old-fashioned blog­gers.  Most of us are some com­bi­na­tion of the above.  It’s full of pro­fes­sion­als who behave like ama­teurs and ama­teurs who behave like pro­fes­sion­als.  It hap­pens on blogs and web­sites and forum posts and Twitter.  No two peo­ple seem to have the same pic­ture of what it ought to be.  It’s always been dif­fi­cult to find where the OntoGeek fits into this swirling mael­strom of words and videos, and I hope Hannah has bet­ter luck than I did.

But I still think the same thing I did when I clum­si­ly start­ed the site in the first place: there’s a need on the Internet for intel­li­gent writ­ing about games.  We are hard­ly the only place try­ing to fill that need, but I like our atti­tude: smart, thought­ful, a lit­tle bit irrev­er­ent, but not try­ing too hard to look cool.  We’ve always pre­ferred to write about inter­est­ing games more than top­i­cal ones.  I think there’s room for that, and I look for­ward to see­ing how the site con­tin­ues to grow and evolve in the com­ing years.  I’m excit­ed to see what some­body else can do with this idea.

So, thank you for read­ing.  Thank you for watch­ing us grow and learn and adapt.  Thank you for com­ment­ing and retweet­ing and telling your friends.  I hope you’ll con­tin­ue to do so, and join me in eager­ly await­ing what Hannah and the rest of the team will do with the site from here on out.

And thanks to every­one who wrote for me.  No one, myself includ­ed, has ever made a dime from this site, so all the hard work and effort you’ve seen has been com­plete­ly for its own sake.  Thanks to every­one who put up with my strange edi­to­r­i­al quirks and ten­den­cy to do things in bursts of activ­i­ty fol­lowed by long peri­ods of silence.  Thanks to Jarrod Hammond and Matt Schanuel, the first two peo­ple to write for the site other than myself, who con­vinced me maybe I had some­thing here.  Thanks to Tom Coberly and Erin McNeil for their con­tin­ued sup­port and edi­to­r­i­al help over these last four years.  Thanks to Kris Ligman, Eric Swain and the rest of the Critical Distance team for fea­tur­ing our arti­cles on a reg­u­lar basis.

And most impor­tant­ly, thanks to all of our reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors, past, present and future: Hannah DuVoix, Tom Dawson, Joel Cuthbertson, Jim Ralph, Owen Vince, Ben Milton, Jessica Dobervich, CJ Allen, Oscar Strik, Matt Schanuel (again) and Aaron Gotzon.  You guys made this hap­pen, and it has been a priv­i­lege to work with each and every one of you!

So, for the last time, thank you all very much, and I can’t wait to see what hap­pens next.

–Bill Coberly
Editor-in-Chief 20102014
The Ontological Geek

  1. The name came from an attempt to make a St. Anselm joke.  It does­n’t real­ly make any sense.  I always fig­ured I’d change it to some­thing a lit­tle more pho­to­genic, but never actu­al­ly got around to that.  I sus­pect it might be a bit late now. []
  2. No, you can’t read it, I got rid of it when we moved to the WordPress site.  It’s ter­ri­ble, but not par­tic­u­lar­ly enter­tain­ing. []

Bill Coberly

About Bill Coberly

Bill Coberly is the founder and groundskeeper of The Ontological Geek, now that it has shifted over to archive mode. If something on the site isn't working, please shoot a DM to @ontologicalgeek on Twitter!