After cold calling to get a job in the gaming industry, I wanted to learn about games by getting a job at a gaming site. I figuring I could either be "Assistant Bootlicker" at a large gaming-media corporation or I could be a full fledged "Editor" at a smaller unknown company,
When I started there, twenty boys stuck in a small office in Berkeley California were trying to make the web site for game information, since they were all hard core gamers. Especially the frontman, Dennis "Thresh" Fong.
At its largest, GX Media encompassed Gamers.com, a fabulous Gaming Portal (with over 20,000 games listed in if - from dominoes to chess, PlayStation and Nintendo, Dungeons and Dragons and Hopscotch), gamersx.com, host to many fine game strategy guides, Firing Squad which has hardcore thorough reviews of hardware and software, and the gxnetwork, which runs advertising on a number of hardware and gaming sites.
I started as employee number 19. Within eight months the company had grown to over 100 people. It was the end of the Internet boom in the Bay Area: a 23 year old CEO got 14 million dollars to run a big gaming web site with a bunch of his buddies. We moved out of small funky offices in Berkeley to a giant corporate complex in desolate south Richmond. We ran scooters and hamster breeding, using expensive equipment to play the latest games, it was a total blast. Then things started to look grim for more funding, as the Internet at large was contracting and we had mostly long term visions of indefinite revenue streams. We got an older CEO and some revenue targets. I started doing corporate research, how the company might benefit from specific investments or different business models.
Even in Richmond, the desks retained some funk.
Matt Wenzel's playland, January 2001.
As "The Director of Innovation" I lasted through one round of layoffs, and was laid off during the second. I had been to many gaming conferences, met many wonderful folks, played a ton of games, and learned an enormous amount about the electronic gaming industry. And the paper and traditional games industry to boot! It was graduate school in games. See the notes for particulars:
Here's a video I was a part of, from Dragon Con 2000:
I started an internal company newsletter, and that's a lot of fun. every four weeks I polled my coworkers about their hobbies, favourite places to eat, favourite games, and hamsters.
For a while I interviewed a Gamers.com site member each weekday for Gamer of the Day.