Shaun is where Toronto Thumbs really started. I won’t get into it here, as he gets into it below – and his telling of the story is dead-on. Suffice to say that Shaun has always been my inspiration for the site. He has admitted many times that he becomes aimless – but as I have always said, there’s nothing wrong with taking a small break before setting your sights again (you get the best headshots that way, after all). I owe this whole endeavour to this kind and awesome man. Shaun is a severely talented dude that throws himself into everything he does. Make sure you follow him on whatever platform you can – if only to know who to flock to when the zombies finally arrive for the apocalypse. – ed.
There’s not much I can say about Toronto Thumbs that hasn’t already been covered by everyone else’s goodbye post. It’s a little weird the goodbyes have been so many and have gone on for so long. But then again, it’s a little weird that Toronto Thumbs has been around for so long. Also a little weird: Everyone who has ever been associated with this site. Some more than most (read: Aggies).
Anyhow, as with all goodbyes I must first reflect back on how this all started. In late 2007 I had been notified by Chart Magazine that the technology/lifestyles section was being discontinued and I, consequently, would no longer be able to review games for them. I started my career in journalism with them, after interning for a year on what truly was my favourite magazine: one that featured Sloan, Matthew Good, and Our Lady Peace on the cover in what seemed to be a repeating pattern.
I was mainly a music reviewer and secondly an incredibly nervous interviewer. I covered mainly indie bands but did get a “big break” when I was somehow chosen to interview Rivers Cuomo for Weezer’s Green album. That interview made me never want to interview anyone else ever again (funny considering that I did thousands of them at EP years later and loved it). I then segued into the world of games journalism because Chart was expanding beyond its music roots. I was the only writer on staff who had a GameCube at the time, and that made me the staff’s GameCube reviewer. Good or bad, I had a new game to review just about every week and I loved it. These reviews only had to be 50 words long. Sometimes it felt like I didn’t even have to play the game to write the review. My favourite, long lost review, was for a game called i-Ninja. I used the word “ninja” in the review around 20 times.
So, when told that the game side of the magazine was going away, I was somewhat upset because I still wanted to write about games. I still wanted free games, obviously (ha!) – but that came at a cost. I started this site with no idea of what to do. I picked “Toronto Thumbs” because it sounded newspapery and I was always a big fan of alliteration. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but over time I found some ground and direction and went with it. I met folks with common interests. I recorded silly podcasts. I enlisted Jorge, Adam, and others to help out here and there but maintained the helm for what seemed like an eternity.
Then I met Jamie Love. He was singularly the most passionate person I have ever met when it comes to games and the discussion surrounding them. He joined the fold effortlessly and soon proved himself to not only be an incredibly insightful writer, but one who was also seemingly tireless. We spent days chatting about directions for editorial content, new things we could try to increase our audience, and in general analyzing the state of games media. Our drive to create something so unique and high-brow came years before the likes of Polygon and The Verge. Our desires were only outmatched by our ultimate lack of resources (time and money) as we both held “real” jobs that took up most of our time and energies. Ultimately a silly argument on creative direction led us to unfortunately no longer be friends, and the site suffered greatly from this (we’ve since made up and are once again good friends, so don’t worry).
Again I found myself not knowing what to do with Toronto Thumbs. I decided to make it more personal and treat it more like a personal blog that just so happened to be about videogames. And it remained in this state for several months. I’d post multiple short articles every day. If a new piece of Mega Man 9 art was released, it got its own post. Just a “Hey, look at this cool art” type of thing. I felt like this lack of editorial mandate, so to speak, also freed me up from a great deal of stress.
And who could forget Reindeertase? Answer: some of you have never even heard of it!
By far though, I feel that my greatest contribution to this site and consequently the videogames industry has been the very strange Layton Deleted Scenes where Jorge and I came up with ridiculous comics based on the ongoing exploits of Professor Layton and his young apprentice, Luke. Looking back at these comics, most of them are esoteric and some aren’t actually funny. But they still generated about half of the site’s traffic when I was still running the show (a point that made me somewhat grumpy, as I was trying so hard to write great reviews while these silly cartoons got more attention).
In February of 2010, after only two years and four months of running this site, I was drafted by a higher power to become a host of The Electric Playground, and felt it counterproductive to run my own game site when working 12+ hours a day on a gaming news show. So I asked Jorge if he would be interested in taking over Toronto Thumbs.
He said yes.
Jorge has run Toronto Thumbs for much longer than I have – over twice as long, in fact. His dedication to continue to keep the site updated every day is inspiring. I would have definitely given up years ago if I was still in charge, mainly because my dedication and passion for it was waning at the time of my exit anyhow. But what Jorge has done here is nothing less than astounding. He took Toronto Thumbs off my hands (and off of life support) and breathed new life into it. He got himself a new team of writers – some who have brought a great deal of original content and views to the site. Best of all, he truly made it his, and in doing so, yours. I have had the pleasure of seeing Jorge become an incredibly gifted writer. It wasn’t easy editing his pieces before. But now, he doesn’t need my help. Far from it. He’s having to edit this (payback’s a B!). Jorge’s kind approach to coverage and in forming positive relationships with other people in the games industry is by far his greatest accomplishment here. He brought something levelheaded and mature to an industry that is still on many levels incredibly immature.
Jorge’s kindness knows no bounds. He has given so many great writers (and a few really shitty ones) a chance to be heard and to be part of something special.
Thank you, Jorge. Enjoy the break from all this. You’ve earned it.