My Top Ten Favorite Industry People of 2013

I read, watched, and listened to far too much game related content in 2013 for my own good. Thankfully, there are a hell of a lot of great people out there to make doing that a wholly worthwhile endeavor. Here’s my list (in no particular order) of ten people in the gaming industry who really made 2013 memorable for me.

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PATRICK KLEPEK of Giant Bomb

                Patrick Klepek is the man I point to when I want to show people what a game journalist should be. He always does his homework, checks his sources, and makes sure he knows what the hell he’s talking about before he produces an article, and it shows. He broke one of the biggest stories of the year with the reveal of Microsoft’s Xbox One DRM backpedaling, and he did so in a way that was straightforward, to the point reporting.

                As if that journalistic strength wasn’t enough, the video content he started producing in 2013 was phenomenal, particularly the Giant Bomb Premium feature “Spookin’ With Scoops,” where Patrick plays horror games before a hungry chat audience for our amusement, offering not cheap scares and wacky reactions, but a measured, knowledgeable approach to the genre coming from someone who truly loves and understands it. Into 2014, he’s been knocking it out of the park with his daily Spelunky runs, Dark Souls streams, and always enjoyable morning shows with co-host Alex Navarro.  Patrick really is the exemplar of how to conduct yourself online (hell, he’s given a TED talk about it), and it’s always a joy to read and watch his work.

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ZOE QUINN of Depression Quest, Tidbytes, etc.

                Zoe Quinn’s work on Depression Quest really helped me gain some important perspective on my own life and my own issues, and for that I owe her more than I can express here.  She’s also an incredibly active advocate for getting people interested in making games. Few people really seem as committed to making game development a more common hobby or skill as Zoe is, and her Tidbytes are little hilarious mini lessons in game design each time a new one is released.

                She’s also a hilarious person to follow on Twitter, and is constantly showing the right way to deal with difficulties in life and in game development. Zoe Quinn, simply put, kicks ass, and I wish she didn’t have to deal with so much bullshit in the process.

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ANDREW GROEN of Red Bull eSports, formerly the Penny Arcade Report

                Andrew is, as far as I’m concerned, the undisputed king of long form eSports reporting.  I wish I had some of his PAR articles to link here (they’ve been tragically shoved off the internet), but the short version of what I’d link if I could is that Andrew has a real gift for making eSports articles that focus on all of the interesting aspects of competitive online gaming by adding in a clean, narrative drive to all of the action that contextualizes it in human drama.

                Reading an article by Andrew is a way for me to instantly gain a grip on eSports scenes and players I’m not familiar with. I follow LoL mostly, but through Andrew’s work, I’ve gotten much more a sense of the Starcraft, fighting game, and Dota scenes, and I think he’s one of the few people out there today that’s really nailing eSports reporting in a way that delivers easy accessibility. His expertise goes beyond just the eSports angle as well, with work that shows an impressive ability to make the incomprehensible interesting.

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CARA ELLISON of Rock, Paper, Shotgun and more

                Cara Ellison is one of the most heartfelt, straightforward, and staggeringly funny people writing game-related content out there today. Her work has an almost unparalleled strength of personality to it, and I think I could pick out a Cara Ellison piece at a glance without any trouble.

                She writes about things that matter, she writes about things that are hilarious, and she writes about things that are hugely, painfully human. She’s also not half bad at the whole game writing thing herself, having made a text adventure called Sacrilege, a work of such sheer frankness that it commanded my mindset in a way that few AAA games could endeavor to equal. She’s recently taken to Patreon in a very successful project to perform embedded games journalism, and I have a good feeling she’s a very safe investment.

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RYAN DAVIS of Giant Bomb

                Fuck, Ryan Davis. Ryan was the heart and soul of Giant Bomb, a booming, laughing, larger than life man who made anyone feel instantly at ease. Losing him back in July was one of the biggest sucker punches I felt last year; going out at the top of his game, a master of podcast hosting, quick look hilarity, and generally just being instantly lovable.

                I spent a lot of time mourning Ryan Davis for someone who never met him. I felt like I knew Ryan, having spent time watching so many videos and streams of him and listening to him talk about games, movies, and everything else. All of the guys at Giant Bomb feel like they’re everyone’s friend at this point, and even though I never met Ryan, losing him felt like losing a friend. Rest in peace, duder.

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JESS CONDITT of Joystiq

                Jess Conditt is the queen of the animated GIF.  Her responses to misbegotten Joystiq comments via her Dear Trolls blog are some of the funniest examples of addressing internet belligerence around, and her work on Joystiq is constantly highlighting games, people, and projects that deserve attention.

                On top of that, she writes a heck of a review, and her teardown of Lococycle is about the only great thing to come out of that game’s existence. She’s been popping up in Joystiq’s new weekly streams lately as well, and like all of Joystiq’s crew, she has a great personality for creating video content, as well as for appearing in the Super Joystiq Podcast.

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SUSAN ARENDT of Joystiq

                If doubling down on Joystiq is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  Susan Arendt is what my brain defaults to when I think of an editor in the gaming industry; sharp, snappy writing, a great social media presence, and no nonsense. I don’t always agree with Susan’s opinions on games, but I have a hard time arguing, because she’s got a skilled, incisive way of presenting her opinions and a directness to her writing that makes it hard even for snarky bloggers with law degrees like yours truly to poke holes in her reviews.

                Susan and Ludwig Kietzmann run a hell of a tight ship over at Joystiq as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief, keeping the site very straightforward and to the point in its content and design while still constantly cultivating a stable of intelligent, interesting, and likable writers. Joystiq rules, and it rules in no small part because of Susan Arendt.

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JOHN WALKER of Rock Paper, Shotgun

                The last true action hero of the PC gaming world, John Walker’s hilarious, unflinching honesty is a voice that’s sorely needed in the gaming industry.  I look forward to reading anything John publishes, regardless of whether I agree, disagree, or even know what the hell he’s talking about.

                A refusal to be bound by anyone’s expectations or standards when it comes to the way he criticizes games, John examines games in a way that’s wholly independent of his peers, and his work is constantly getting me to take a look at games that many others disliked. His piece on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning last year sold me on that game nearly single-handedly, and there are countless other situations where I’ve been made to try things out based on his writing.

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BEN KUCHERA of Polygon, formerly Penny Arcade Report

                The Penny Arcade Report might be gone, but there isn’t a force on this Earth that can stop Ben Kuchera’s pen from moving. Ben defined the video game opinion piece for me, and his articles have a way of asking great questions while simultaneously providing well reasoned, well written answers. Ben’s passionate energy for the hobby and all things it contains is infectious, and it’s partially because of PAR’s influence that this blog exists.

                I got the chance to meet Ben at PAX last year, and despite it being deep into the incredibly busy convention, his enthusiasm and energy were contagious. It takes a lot to be that thrilled to meet some fans after undoubtedly working his ass off all weekend, and it meant a lot to me.

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TRAVIS GAFFORD of onGamers

                The war reporter of the LoL scene since time immemorial, Travis Gafford has made video interviews into an art form. His unique, friendly rapport with each of the different players he speaks with couple with the sheer ridiculous amount of content he produces made him the face of the LoL eSports scene for me in 2013; after every event, I could count on finding a Travis interview with virtually every major player involved in any of the games at the tournament.

                Travis also isn’t afraid to get to the point and ask important questions, and his participation in the creation of onGamers has created a fantastic centralized reporting source for eSports pieces. He doesn’t seem to be letting up in 2014 at all, as he’s been there in the trenches every week of LCS so far. Travis Gafford is an interview machine, and has really helped give the LoL scene some personality.

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