A community is a group of people who share a common interest in a particular topic or hobby. A successful community is one in which its members share not only a common interest but also a mutual commitment to one another, a comradery or fellowship of sorts that thrives on the interactions between individuals, and it is through these interactions that a successful community grows. Communities are common all across on the internet, but truly successful communities are rare. The gaming community, in its entirety, is unique in that its members consist of an ever-changing body of creators and consumers, of which some of the latter may eventually become creators themselves. I am not just video game development here; the gaming community today consists of bloggers, cosplayers, YouTubers, artists, musicians, and the like. This is a story about MyIGN, a gaming community, and how it gave rise to some of the finest content creators I’ve ever known in its 7 years of existence.
Let me first explain what MyIGN is. You may have heard of IGN.com, the massive media website for all things video games. According to long-time community member DOJNDO (who kindly offered his expertise to me for the purposes of this post), during the summer of 2010, IGN began beta-testing a new feature called MyIGN. The goal was to expand upon the current MyBlogs platform to something bigger that would focus on promoting content creation and community engagement. MyIGN became a place where users could interact with one another and share their thoughts about what they’ve been playing via status updates and blog posts. Whereas IGN continued its role as a news outlet offering professional reviews and opinions, MyIGN took the role of a social network for gamers. It was almost entirely community-driven, with most of MyIGN’s content being created by the community with the intent of it to be consumed the community. This gave rise to a self-sustaining network of gamers who continued to create new content as long as there were people there to read, watch, listen, and so on. Thousands of blog posts, video series, podcasts, tournaments, and more highlight just how lively the community was at its hay-day.
For those who don’t know, I had my blogging start at MyIGN in the summer of 2011, not too long after the site officially launched. I joined because I wanted to talk to people about video games, and my close friends either didn’t play the same games I did or only cared about games on a superficial level. Moreover, my love for gaming was reignited by the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, and I just had to share my thoughts with somebody. Writing was always something that I’ve enjoyed doing, and to be able to share my thoughts to a global audience, while certainly daunting, was something that appealed to one like me who would otherwise feel too shy and unconfident to do so. What I found in MyIGN was a community that not only shared the same interests that I did but also was supportive of my works, and in doing so drove me to continue to create as I did for over 5 years. Across the 242 blog posts I ended up writing, I found myself in long debates and discussions about the industry, from whether kids should play M-rated games to musings on the color brown. I even did well enough to have some of my works featured on other popular websites like ZeldaDungeon and NintendoLife.
The content my peers were creating were equally as impressive. A lot of them were bloggers like myself, people who made top 10 lists of stupid things or wrote thousands of words about their favorite games. Others chose to flex their creative muscles with other collaborative projects that ended in, among other things, infamously embarrassing singing of the Pokémon theme song. We even made our own holiday, Shy Guys on Stilts Day, in which we would all change our avatars into Shy Guy’s for no other reason outside of having stupid fun (my phone still goes off on August 5th because of it). Perhaps one of the most impressive and heartwarming feats of the MyIGN community was a successful fundraiser to raise money and find a kidney donor for community member DTakes23, which goes to show just how tight-knit of a community MyIGN was. To put it in her words:
“To those of you who are critical of gamers or video games in general – this is what games really do. They bring people together. They teach people to fight through challenges and persevere. They mold a community that’s not afraid to reach out and help someone.”
When MyIGN first launched, there were mixed reactions from those who had previously written on IGN’s former MyBlogs platform. Some older blog posts written by former members of MyIGN indicated that the focus on “people” rather than “content” rubbed some members the wrong way. However, MyIGN quickly grew thanks in large part to aggressive advertising by IGN to its users, and, as time went on, IGN even starting promoting outstanding blogs to its front page. A handful of MyIGNers even became IGN editors themselves, and countless others (including myself) became community moderators for the site. Despite this, however, IGN continued to be mostly hands-off when it came to updates to MyIGN, and as many software engineers know, code that is not maintained will eventually rot. One by one the features on MyIGN stopped working; first, it was the newsfeed, then blog posts started disappearing, and despite promises to fix things, the site ultimately fell into an unusable state. Many of us were angered by the fact that IGN seemed to have stopped caring about a community that so many of us have poured hundreds of hours into. By 2017, most of the high-profile MyIGNers, including dozens of moderators like myself, had left the site.
In January 2018, in a move that was hardly surprising, IGN announced that it would pull all support from MyIGN, including the removal all the user blogs from the site, for what I can only assume was a cost-saving measure. In the past, they may have been justified in keeping MyIGN up and running to attract new users, but the audience for MyIGN did not grow as quickly as the media-focused content on the main site, and hosting massive amounts of user content that had accumulated over 7 years isn’t free. In a Twitter post, IGN COO Peer Schneider stated the following.
“We tried to facilitate a creative community within a large media site. It was a great, but small group of daily users (thousands as opposed to the millions that visit us daily). We slaved over the site, but there are limitations to maintaining code by past engineers and with smaller teams.”
IGN’s hands-off approach to MyIGN had come back to bite them, and the most reasonable way to fix the problem was to get rid of it entirely.
As you can probably tell, my feelings towards MyIGN are bittersweet. Like many long-time members of the site, the MyIGN community changed my life (it made more confident in myself and made me a better writer), and for others it literally saved theirs. To this day, I strongly believe that there is no gaming community quite like MyIGN. Still, I hold no ill will towards IGN for shutting it down, as it was bound to happen eventually (as an aside, I do find it interesting that IGN places so little emphasis on user-generated content). I am still friends with a lot of the people I’ve met, many of which I stay connected with via a makeshift Google+ community (you can probably find us if you look hard enough). The death of MyIGN does serve as a reminder, however, that not everything is permanent, even on the internet. Thank you, MyIGN, and may you rest in peace.
For those who are interested in reading my past works on IGN, they have been archived and can be read from this site.