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.
The Ontological Geek
- 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. [↩]
- 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. [↩]