Reaching the end of a videogame is a pretty devastating experience. The time you've invested and the game you've gotten to know so well are ripped from your grasp. The stain glass window of the world you've been immersed in is shattered, sometimes more artfully than others, with, say, sunlight highlighting the individual shards, but always shattered. It's a lot like leaving job. Walking away from a job you love offers the same experience, in that it's painful, sad and yet full of good memories. Leaving a job, like finishing a game, is an experience that leaves you better equipped for the next challenge and appreciative of how good you had it, even if the immediate emotions are tough to deal with.
Congratulations Escapist readers, you've reached the end game. This is my last column for The Escapist.
After you finish a game, there is, for a moment, a void in your life, as you watch the credits role and wonder what's next. Some people replay the game, or go through collecting every last thing in it. Others dive immediately into the next world available for consumption. Myself, I usually sit there for a few moments and space out. Incidentally this is sort of the tact I'm taking with The Escapist, spacing out for a few months before moving onto the next thing, whatever that may be.
I don't feel a sense of accomplishment after beating a game. Maybe once, when beating a game was a sign you were a big kid, I felt that way. Now though, I mostly feel a sense of loss. What was left after I beat Beyond Good and Evil? Jade and Hillys were gone, just another fast fading memory. By the same token, while I'm proud of the work I've done at The Escapist, there will also be feelings of loss as I think about all the work yet to be done, good times still to be had, and dizzying heights of accomplishment remaining to be scaled. All of which will now happen without me.
Finally though, I move on, or off the couch as the case may be. But I do so with a sense of history and a life that's now richer than it was a year ago. I move on with expectations a little higher for the next game, a refined appreciation for a certain mechanic and, most of all, a deeper understanding of this amazing culture gamers have created. In the same way, I leave The Escapist knowing how much work goes into creating great content, the importance of working with a great team and that the things I've learned, too many to mention, will always be useful to me.
But surely, all the World of Warcraft fans out there are screaming, there must be some kind of end game content? Games don't just flat out end anymore. You play multiplayer until the next game comes out, get more lewtz and access downloadable content. I suppose the real life analogue would be the twitter feed, a blog to follow or a facebook page. And if I were trying to immediately rope all of you into my next gig, those options would make sense. In this case though, the end really is just that. Because if I'm honest with myself, the blog would be ignored and the tweets silent.
The real end game for me is The Escapist. Because being able to go to The Escapist and read four incredible articles, watch ZP and still participate in the forums is all the end game I could ask for. Seeing my former colleagues continue to put out the best content in the business, the only DLC I need. That's the end game - continue enjoying The Escapist.
But any good conclusion also has credits and I'd like to thank the following: Alex , Tom, Russ, Julianne, Susan, DEAM! (screamed like Khan), Funk, Carrie, Greg, Jason, Jeff and everyone else who helped to bring the best out of my work along the way, there are many of you. Most of all, I'd like to thank the readers of this column for the honesty, decency and intelligence you bring to this site. It was the foundation upon which my work was based.
You can find Tom Endo's blog...oh wait, no you can't.