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To The Future

October 28, 2013

goodbye futureI’m leaving Future Publishing this week. I’ve worked there for just over six years, and written for its magazines for nearer ten. I am sad to go, though much of what I’ll miss about the company left before I did. Naturally I wanted to write something wry and important to sum up the things I’ve learned and my conflicted feelings at this goodbye, but that was too hard so I did this wan overcooked dear diary nonsense instead. As ever, I am sorry.

I first joined Future as a staff writer on Official PlayStation 2 Magazine in the summer of 2004. We moved down from Sheffield and I found the magazine packed inside a tumbling, turning office building in the centre of Bath, busy and full of funny and creative people it seemed I could never keep up with. I remember a summer party with bumper cars and cocktails. I remember learning a great deal. I made good friends, and I remember being sad to leave when I went back to Sheffield for more post-graduate study.

Three years later the relationship between me and my never-finished PhD became problematic, which is to say that I hated everything I’d ever written and thought. I called Tim Clark and asked for a job. He said yes, and I came back in 2007 as reviews editor of the new Official PlayStation Magazine, launched alongside the PS3. Odd to realise while typing that my tenure has lasted almost exactly as long as the machine itself.

I was 26, which now seems very young, and the magazine had a strong, talented staff that barely changed for the next two years. We were confident and the magazine was good. We all knew print was in decline, but I was starting a career – it seemed so obvious to me, to us, that what we were writing and thinking was better than almost anyone else, better than the vast majority of barely-written and overly-read American sites. At some point, it seemed inevitable, someone would notice, or come up with a new website or magazine that would allow us to show just how good we were.

26 is very young.

Now I’m leaving I’m conscious of how much growing up (or, more less romantically, “aging”) I’ve done in the last six years. That’s why it’s probably a good thing for reasons I still can’t quite grasp that FirstPlay, the video project that grew from Official PlayStation Magazine in 2009, was a grinding horror that ended in failure. It was weekly and made weeks in advance, and it gradually become clear that it was, if not impossible to make, then impossible to make good. I learned a lot about video production, and working late, and, probably most importantly, about what happens when self-belief crashes into a solid wall of immovable Fuck You.

For the last two years I’ve been the editor of PlayStation Access, and these have been the best times – I’ve been lucky enough to work with excellent people, and I’ve also been able to tell them to do things that I don’t want to do. Although I’m leaving Future, we’ll still be making Access for Sony.

It will be strange to live in Bath and not ride into the office in the morning. Living here has always been synonymous with working there. Bath is a wonderful, small, stupidly perfect place to live and raise children, and there’s not been a morning, even during the worst times, that I have woken up with the dread stomach of facing work. I remind myself of this as often as I can. We gripe, and complain, and feel undervalued. But we live here, and we do this job, and we do it together.

So, that summing up. Even through the hotel-and-taxi blur of work travel, I’ve seen more of the world than I suspected I would. I’ve glimpsed Tokyo, New York, Montreal, Prague and many others, and I got to discover first hand how much I hate the lurid emptiness of Las Vegas. I’ve met scores of brilliant people and almost certainly didn’t make the most of them being forced to talk to me. I’ve gained a small understanding of a business and a craft that is finally attracting the kind of attention and study it deserves.

Thanks to Rich Keith for giving me a job. Thanks to Tim Clark for teaching me how to do it. Thanks to Helen Woodey, Ben Wilson, Leon Hurley, Rachel Weber, Mark Wynne and Paul Fitzpatrick for being the best. Thanks to James Jarvis for being the hardest working, hardest-to-work-with person I know. Thanks to David Boddington for being a gentleman in a more ordinary age. Thanks to Matt Elliott for fuck all, as usual. Thanks to Kim Richards, Ade Ruiz-Langan and Becky Preston for coming back for Access, and thanks to Dave Jackson and Robert Pearson for coming with me.

I’ll leave you with one of my most treasured memories of working at Future – that time I was reviewing Kane & Lynch 2 and realised there were two naked old men sliced to pieces with razors on my telly and I took pictures of it and sent them to everyone.

iphone on 20th July 2011 228

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