Sunday Thoughts: Why Next Weekend Matters So Much

I don’t really write much personal editorial on TSA any more.  In fact, I don’t really write very much at all – with my baby daughter (rightly) taking up most of my spare time and a new job enthusiasticly soaking up my daytime hours, I don’t have a great deal of the day left for blogging.  Sure, I’ll do the odd review when I can and if I’m up in the middle of the night changing a nappy I’ll see if anything needs covering, but apart from that it’s pretty quiet.

This isn’t a reflection on the site, of course – I still think TSA is wonderful.  It’s just that over the last couple of years I’ve floated away from it a little bit, at least in terms of the so-called ‘front line’.  Behind the scenes I still help out with the coding and site design elements and pop up in group discussions about things that matter, but I don’t feel nearly as connected.  Certainly, most decisions are now made without me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When Michael and myself first set up this website, way back in 2007, we just wanted somewhere where we could talk about gaming and – if we were lucky – have a few people talk back.  There was no agenda, no goal, no traffic quota to aim for.  It was simple, it was fun, and it was, as anyone trying to run a website in their spare time will tell you, really, really hard work.

We made plenty of mistakes.  We were too enthusiastic with diving into things without really thinking them through, we didn’t really give much thought at first to the community that was slowly emerging around us and we didn’t really take on board the opinions and wants of other people perhaps as much as we could have done.  There’s no-one to blame for that other that our own naive selves.  We’re programmers, not editors, not journalists, not anything remotely to do with the industry.

But we were friends, and continue to be.  Michael is one of the nicest, hardest working and generally all-round brilliant guys on the planet.  We’re in constant contact and – you’ll probably know – are working on an iPhone game.  But we’ve only met, physically, once.  I’ve known the guy for about ten years, and we’ve met once.

[drop]When running the site became too much, too stressful, it was the brave shoes of Peter that stopped things from falling to pieces.  Peter is a communicator, he’s an organiser, he’s a much stronger willed people than I am, and he’s much, much better at keeping TSA on the straight and narrow.  His level-headedness saved the site (in more ways than one, trust me) and when I look at it now, it’s an entirely different site than it was when I was (poorly) managing it.

Handing over the keys wasn’t easy – but it had to be done, and there was nobody more suited than Peter.  Who, get this, I’ve never met.  Not once.  Likewise with Dan, who looks after all the news output, or Kris, who keeps the features and content flowing.  Apart from a few of the Scotland-based guys, there’s never been a big TSA gathering.  There’s no office, no central base, just friends who met online doing their best to make something that they think other people might want to read.

That’s all going to change this weekend.  At 2011’s Eurogamer Expo, we’re all meeting up, and I’ve literally no idea how it’s going to pan out.  I’m a introvert, I panic about meeting new people, and yet here I am hugely excited about what everyone’s going to be like and how they’re going to react to each other.  But I know it won’t be tense.  It won’t be full of fuss or awkwardness.  Everyone will have a common ground and we’ll all have a beer or two together and act like old mates.

We’ve fallen out over emails, had heated phone calls, called each other every name under the sun and then made up a day later with as many <3’s as you can fit on a line before it word-wraps.  There’s been stress, anxiety, but there’s been elation too, and there’s been the ever present encouragement from the readership that seems to stick with us through thick and thin.  And yet we’ve never met any of you guys either.  If you’re in London for the Expo, do get in touch.

Until next weekend, then.  I can’t wait.

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46 Comments

  1. I can’t wait either. Only been part of the site for about a week and I can see how much love and work the TSA team puts in to it. I can’t wait to meet you and the rest at some point next week.

  2. Absolutely excellent read. One to be proud of Nofster. Unfortunately ive never met any of you guys either and I know Kevling is a mere 20 min drive and cc_star only 35-40 mins……and thats only the ones i know of.

    We should really have local meet ups for a football match and a few beers or something, would be good.

  3. Ah balls. Really wish I was going.

  4. I found it really shocking that you have only met Michael once, and never met Peter. You guys all seem so close, I imagined you were all old uni mates or something. I hope you guys have an awesome weekend together, I still say film the lot and post a video diary!

    • +1 to that, filming would probably be hilarious..

    • I hammered my credit card to get a good quality camcorder and we’re already planning some video content…
      We might also do a live broadcast from the house in the evening, if technology permits ;)

      • Please make sure that there are no naked staff members! :op

      • Very fancy! I look forward to it!

      • The Lone Steven said – ‘naked staff members’ – ooer!

  5. Really interesting read. The fact that you have never meet most of the TSA staff in quite astonishing as TSA seems to be run brilliantly by all you lot. Have a good weekend :)
    Theres quite a few TSAers from Cardiff who I would like to see or meet up with :P

    • Cardiff eh? It’s odd to think I might have seen any number of people and never known..

      • ha I know! if you ever see someone wearing shorts in winter in Cardiff I assure you it’s me ;)

      • That was me a few years ago, gave up after a hailstorm though..

  6. I still don’t know how you guys run a site like this for no pay, and still have to work full time! So big kudos for that.

    I have trouble making time to read it all =)

  7. God damn, I wish I could go.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed this article, and quite surprising as I don’t tend to read the blog posts.

    As someone who doesn’t post much (or ever in the forums) it’s interesting because I don’t really feel like part of the community. I read the site every day without fail and always read the comments of an article. The amount of love that can be felt from the community is fantastic and gives me reason to come back, even though I don’t partake (much).

    It’s the same with the meets. I have a mic but I’ve never been a big chatter box on games so I just sit back and enjoy the fun. Though once again it’s obvious with the people that are chatting that it’s all a bit of fun and no one takes it too seriously (at least in the games I’ve been apart of).

    Mostly everyone on TSA seem to gel and get along. That’s what keeps bringing me back to this site. Along with the brilliant articles too. :)

    • Sorry, only just realised my post barely relates to this article, lol. What I was getting at was that I’m sure the meet in London will be a great one because of how everyone seems to get along here on TSA.

      Would be cool to be there, but then you’d be like ‘wtf is this guy?’ ;)

  9. Really tender read it’s good to see that the seed of the site you planted has grown into what most of us sit here and read every day and with the arrival of your daughter, real life has taken over the majority of your time again. There’s a kind of poetry to it somehow.

    It really is an amazing job you all do and I sometimes wonder what I’d do without my daily dose of news, reviews and TSA features.

    I bet it’s a really electric excited/nervous energy feeling that you’ve got about meeting your TSA cohorts, I feel a little excited just sitting here having read your thoughts from thousands of miles away.

    I’d love to meet some of the members and staff of TSA and it’s a shame I can’t be there but I’ve had some pretty exciting times myself recently having moved from sunny Cumbria to rainy Florida.

    I have absolutely no doubts that the meet will be anything other than amazing but I’ll still wish you all the best and hope it’s a great time for all you staffers and members going and meeting up, I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t a little jealous too. :D

    Perhaps my first games convention could be E3 now I’m actually in the correct country for it even though I’m still a long way away!

    Great read and long may TSA continue.

  10. That was a wonderful read Alex, I wasn’t a visitor here in the early days of TSA but since I’ve joined I’ve witnessed it go from strength to strength – and numerous tweaks to the site :) . I knew there was no ‘TSA Towers’ but I thought some or all the staff would meet up regularly and I really thought you and Michael must meet regularly to work on your coding projects.
    Next week will truly be a historical moment for TSA. Have a ball everyone who’s going and I look forward to reading all about it!

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