Control Freak: Is There Any Hope For the Future of 1up.com?
2003 - 2013
I suspect by now that most of the editors have cleared out their desks and may occasionally check the site at home from time to time. I imagine the server(s) that hold 1up in the digital spaces of the internet are ticking away the miliseconds to their inevitable unplugging but are still slowly working to post what few blogs come through via the users that still come here. I can only guess that the big business of Ziff-Davis has no intention of selling the site or name because they don't want to lose the ad revenue. And, I like to think that the users still care.
I have been a member of dozens of gaming community sites over the years. Some of them have been good to me, others I'd like to see burn to the ground with the creators trapped in the building.
I first heard of 1up through a magazine advert, the one with the kid holding the Dreamcast, I believe that was back in 2003 at the site's launch. I wasn't on the internet til 2001 and didn't really get into gaming until 2004. Back then I had never imagined there were gaming communities. GameSpy Arcade was my first real taste of online gaming and it opened the door to many of the big name review sites. I wasn't a member of 1up til about 2006 (under a different name) and what attracted me was the 1up Show. I had just gotten into podcasts and I genuinely loved it. The talent of production and the easy-going natures of Matt Chandronait and Ryan O'Donnell had me anticipating it each week. It was one of my few favorites. Sadly, out of the almost dozen or so I used to listen to, only 2 are still around.
It seems these days most people are migrating to the independent review sites for fear of pressure from the game companies or corporations. Ever since the Gerstmanngate debacle, writers have been called into question along with review scores. (And really, if a 5/10 is "average" then why is the average game a 7/10?) Its been hard to take anyone's word for how good a game really is these days.
1up had the best straightfoward writers that gave you the facts, it was never clouded with opinions. They had the wherewithal to know what the readers wanted. The only things I was ever disappointed with on this site was the game search, (it never had the little-known games that I have in my collection. While my count shows 452, its more like just over 500.) and the lack of reviews for old games. But those are minor mainly because I keep a list of everything on my computer and I know there wasn't enough manpower to review *picks absolute random game from the list* Silent Scope on the Dreamcast.
Along with that, the community has been one of the most mature I've ever come across. There was never any room for fanboys and the ones that I saw that made their way onto this site were largely ignored by those smart enough not to feed the trolls. I know my blogs were never A+ material, but getting one or two thumbs up for effort was good enough for me.
IGN had no real reason to buy 1up and Gamespy, UGO had no reason to merge with them, and neither should have let Ziff-Davis. What was the point of having a giant congolmerate of game review sites? Were they hoping to create a monopoly? I always felt 1up was more "raised on games" whereas IGN was for new gamers who only cared for the AAA titles. This site was about the gamers themselves, the community was always the main attraction. It was about finding people who were interested in certain games and geeking out about your favorite ones. You could post a blog, forum, or group message and have a game day with total strangers and make friends. You could even find people who liked the same music as you. No other sites did that.
It was about US. THEY created this site for US. For us to celebrate ourselves as gamers. To figure out why people loved the terrible games, to hate the draw distance on Turok 2, to praise the textures and polygon counts of a Sega Saturn game. From the headache-inducing pain of the Virtual Boy to discussing the rapid rise and fall of the 3DO. For tearing the newest video game movie a new one, to painfully admitting that Super Mario Bros was the worst movie we always love to watch. 1up.com was here for that.
"Where Gamers Call Home"
Yeah, I'm sorry I was never around the whole time to see just how great this site truly was. I don't want to start throwing out suggestions because the site is stable enough as is (just... fix the box art problem on some games, go look up Unreal Tournament) and I just don't know if, in the future if the site survives, anything will be changed.
If 1up were to rise again, I suspect it would be less like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and more like starting a New Game+: We have all the equipment, we know the storyline and what choices to make for a reinvention. The only thing to do is gather the crew and go after the Final Boss.