Cody Giunta
11 Feb, 2012

Letter from the Editor - Farewell to PALGN by Jeremy Jastrzab

PALGN Feature | This is good, isn't it?
This article was published on my behalf by Cody Giunta. The contents of this article solely are the views expressed solely by Jeremy Jastrzab

Dear PALGN readership,

Over the past six months or so, those who have regularly visited PAL Gaming Network and have cared about it, will have know that despite still being at the forefront of video game news and reviews, the site was suffering from internal difficulties. After several months of hard work, countless hours of discussions and numerous difficult decisions, I had come to a final decision, at the end of last year.

I’m writing to officially inform you that the current PALGN editorial team will no longer be producing any written content for the site, and have all decided to leave and pursue their own interests. As most will know by now, and has been spread across the Internet, the core reason for this decision stems from the inability for the PALGN editorial team and PALGN ownership to come to a consensus on how the site ought to function.

I had originally intended to be purely diplomatic in this resignation notice, but some recent events have epitomised the reasons for my departure.

At 2:48pm on Friday February 10th, myself and the remaining staff and moderators received an email from Roland Kulen, the owner of PALGN, regarding the events of the previous week's events - mainly the media coverage of PALGN's editorial staff departure and the leaked conversations. Since I was at my 9 to 5 job at the time, I wasn't able to reply. After work, I went to back up all my PALGN articles, given that I had intended to resign that day. This took me the rest of the night. On Saturday morning, at 8:51am, I had received a text from Roland asking whether I had resigned from PALGN. However, I was at a cricket match and couldn't reply. Upon coming home following a wash out, I found that my administrator and staff access had been revoked, without notice. And I hadn't been even given a chance to explain myself. Which is extremely disappointing given my service to PALGN, and exactly why I had been quiet and clandestine about what is happening; I knew something like this would happen if we jumped the gun.

Roland is the major reason that I decided to leave PALGN, and had it not been for my will to take care of the other staff and community, I would have left much sooner. There is enough in the public domain to know what's wrong and what happened, but nothing can possibly come of staying and working with a liar and a bully, who has no idea about anything to do with the games industry or how to run a community orientated website. He is the worst person I have ever worked with and wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy to be stuck working with him. In my personal opinion, you'd have to be mad to come and write for PALGN now.

Otherwise, I will be walking away from games for the time being to focus on other career opportunities that have come up. Numerous other PALGN staff will be starting up a new venture in the near future. Having been at PALGN for nearly 7 years as a writer, which includes 3 and a half as Executive Editor, this decision was also a very personal one for me. It definitely wasn’t made lightly and was something that I had agonised over for the best part of six months. Until now, I’d manage to balance the demands of a full time job at a highly reputable organisation and the running PALGN at night extremely proficiently, which is something I’m immensely proud of – alongside each and every one of the 300 or so reviews I’ve written and everything that I had covered on behalf of the site.

While many of my non-gaming colleagues would go home and study for banal dross such as CAs, CPAs and CFAs, I had the joy of coming home and writing about video games and running one of the finest and proudest game community establishments. My time at PALGN was simply ‘the bomb’. It is by far and away, the best ‘job’ that I ever had. But really, it wasn’t a job; it was a passion. Everything I did for PALGN was because I wanted to do it. So letting go is both extremely difficult and relieving. While I barely made a cent out of PALGN, hard work had its own rewards, and the rewards that I received out of PALGN far outweigh any possible monetary sum that I could have earned from it, such as opportunities of a lifetime, experiences for a lifetime and friendships that will long outlast anything on the Internet. And I was happy to continue as long as it was viable. But given the taxing nature of the more recent events, the life balance had become extremely skewed and impossible to maintain without harming myself and those close to me, while other opportunities have come beckoning as well. So coming to this final decision has been a huge relief.

Another reason why it was so hard to walk away, is that I’ve been writing about video games since 2002. I was still in High School when I started for a small site in Canada, Gamecubeland. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. From there, I had moved onto a site called Nintendojo, which was founded by IGN supremo, Peer Schinder. After a year there I stumbled upon an Australian site named PAL Gaming Network, which had the information that many of us were looking for: release dates and bargains. And after a few months of silently observing, I took the plunge and applied in March 2005, which then led to a journey that I couldn’t have possibly imagined would have been as rewarding as it has.

Following a shy start, I’ve written nearly 300 reviews, many of which have been memorable in their own way. It took me a while to learn and appreciate it, but once I felt that I had matured into the role as a writer, I endeavoured to finish every game that I reviewed, as I felt that this was the only way that I could properly assess and write about a game. It became all too obvious after a while, whether a piece of writing was based on a complete or incomplete preview. But it wasn’t just the reviews or the free games which kept things going. Admittedly, a big reason for me joining this industry, was the potential for receiving free games to review. However, I ended up getting so much more out of it. I met countless wonderful people who have been a pleasure to work, deal and socialise with. My writing skills were significantly improved over the course of several hundred articles (though some may say, not enough!). I got invited to events and got to see exclusives that even now get me excited. Heck, my current job hired me partially on the basis that I spent a lot of my spare time writing and looking to improve my writing.

Some of the most rewarding experiences were two press trips, one to San Francisco and Paris and were very important landmarks for me. Not because they were paid for, but until these trips, non-gaming friends and family failed to realise just how serious PALGN was. Attending E3 in 2010 and 2011, and TGS in 2011, easily rank among the major highlights of my time at PALGN. While I paid my own way for all of them, I was happy to do so, as they’re experiences that all gamers should go and experience at least once. It is a completely different and immensely more rewarding experience (even if it is stupidly tiring) than it is sitting and watching at home. Even EB Expo, which I was extremely sceptical about, turned out to be a remarkably positive initiative for the local industry. Things weren’t always great at PALGN, and there were times that were very challenging. There were internal politics, personal issues and mistakes that almost took the site to the brink. In 2008, in the middle of some very difficult personal times, I very reluctantly took up the Editor’s chair, but given the highs that I managed to experience over the three years in it, they most definitely outweigh the lows.

Over the last seven years, so many things have changed within the industry and at a remarkably rapid rate. New media and technologies have emerged, and the scene is significantly livelier than it was when I started, particularly in Australia. Whims are so much quicker than they were, with flavours changing quicker than you can keep up with. I’ve seen trends come, I’ve seen them go. I’ve seen games get easier and shorter, while the harder ones are praised as gems. I’ve seen the console wars turn into the console vs PC wars, and the Battlefield vs Call of Duty wars. I’ve seen Metacritic emerge as a powerful and driving force behind a lot of the entertainment media. I’ve seen that gaming now reaches a wider audience than ever, which is both a good and a bad thing, in my opinion. The one thing I sincerely hope is that this standardisation doesn’t take away from the former communal and passionate spirit that drove sites such as PALGN and gamefaqs to pump out the content that made it well know. And I sincerely hope that the consumer end of the industry isn’t enveloped in the prevailing cynicism that seems to be attached to everything these days.

As things come to an end, there are numerous people that need to be thanked. Had it not been for James Peter, PALGN would not have existed, so my thanks goes to him for providing this amazing vehicle that facilitated an amazing ride. There have been a lot of difficulties across the years, which most have thankfully stayed away from the public eye, but I’m sure he’ll agree that we wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Sonicwired, while I haven’t had a chance to say much to him, has also been at the forefront of this. Thanks to Brendan Fitzgerald, PALGN’s editor at the time I joined, for taking a chance on an enthusiastic but rough-edged writer and for his blunt but valuable guidance over the early years. Thanks to Luke Van Leuveren, whose years of tireless PR efforts are the sole reason why PALGN built an amazing profile and reputation amongst the Australian publishers. Regardless of how things ended, PALGN would not have received half the rewards it has if not for his formative efforts. Thanks to David Low, my editorial predecessor, who was a highly valuable source of advice and mentorship. He may have been borderline brutal, but he had a ridiculous depth of knowledge, was always considered in what he said and drove the formalisation of PALGN’s editorial policy. Thanks to Adam Ghiggino, for being fantastic to work so closely with in the twilight of our time.

Thanks to the numerous past staff, who helped 2007 become the first PALGN Golden Era, when relationships and site patronage were at an all time high, and we had probably the best writing team in terms of pure quality. Jahanzeb Khan, James Varoutsos and Denny Markovic have been great friends and for the telling contributions they’ve both made to PALGN and to my life. Thanks to Kim Ellis, for her steady and experienced hand, Michael Kontoudis for setting the standard for quality writing, and Anthony Capone, who started as a shy writer and became the voice of the PALcast and a PR stallion. Thanks to some of the past staff members for helping to preside over a golden age of writing quality. To newer staff members who came during my editorial stint, it was with immense pride that I could watch you grow and develop as writers, and I can cherish the feeling that I’ve helped pass on some of the experience that I’ve gained over the years. Especially to Jahanzeb, who is now an excellent writer to complement his passion and enthusiasm, while Bev Chen, Cody Giunta, Cian Hassett, Jarrod Mawson and Adam Guetti, who for me at least, made the second Golden Era for PALGN, as I felt that with this team, I could realise my vision for PALGN. It didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped, but it doesn’t make it any less significant.

Thanks to the Australian gaming community, both writers and the game publishers. The writers have been a tremendous source of camaraderie and help add to a wonderful atmosphere of the industry. It’s heartening to look back and see how much things have grown from modest beginnings, and it’s all thanks to your efforts. The game publishers have shared a wonderful relationship with PALGN, and while they don’t always get a great rap, I greatly appreciate being able to work with everyone on such a personal and professional level. 99% of the time has been great and I don’t have any shocking anecdotes about them. And finally, thank you to the PALGN community. PALGN was about YOU and it has been a pleasure to provide for you, argue with you, laugh with you and be a part of something special for the past seven years or so.

At the end of the day though, PALGN and everyone involved with it should be proud that it almost lasted a decade. How many sites can say this? I’ve spent longer at PALGN than I have anywhere else; longer than primary school, high school, university or the work force. I’ve spent most of my adult life with it, so I feel that it’s an indelible part of me, something that almost defined who I was. I definitely didn’t want to leave things this way, but at the end the decision had to be made. Having achieved just about everything that I dreamed of when I first started in this industry, and having experienced 10 times more than I could have possibly imagined, I leave with few regrets.

I just want to finish up on one final note. The only reason I got anything out of PALGN was because I put my heart and soul into it with untiring hard work. Sure it sucks how things finished, but I can look back now and appreciate the rewards of hard work, even if they’re not tangible at first. If you want something in life, if you want to make something of yourself, you have to go out and get it. I’m proud to have represented PALGN and wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything. I owe more to PALGN than PALGN does owe me.

Till the day we meet again, please take care of yourselves and all the best in your future endeavours.

It’s been a blast!

Jeremy Jastrzab

P.S. Please enjoy the final PALGN Palcast, starring Jeremy, Anthony and Jarrod, below.

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