There comes a time in the life of any project when the most appropriate thing to do is to call it quits and shut it down.
If only it was just gaming that was ignorant to the above. If the music world understood it, we wouldn’t hear anything more from the likes of U2, who have recorded one good song since the eighties, if we’re being generous. If the television world understood it, they would have stopped producing new episodes of The Simpsons seasons ago. If the film industry understood it, George Lucas would have his hands chopped off, if only to prevent him from continuing to molest the original trilogy.
It’s not just a problem amongst the commercialized arts; humanity in general has a tough time letting go of things well past their prime with no chance of return.
Gotfrag has been a zombie for a long, long time. The site and the brand are a shadow of their former selves; it’s now nothing more than a playground for Team Fortress trolls with obscene numbers of useless alternate accounts, copy-pasting stale jokes at one another. Almost the instant that it was bought by Major League Gaming, it crumbled, with both its sense of integrity and its funding greatly diminished.
If MLG understood the above, they’d let Gotfrag experience the death it has been trying to find for years. Instead, we’re being dropped not-so-subtle hints toward plans for taking some jumper cables to it, and giving ‘Ol Fraggy another spin around the block.
A blog or coverage site is not the database, or website code, or styling and layouts, or the name. That’s all just ancillary support structures; necessary, but not the thing driving the audience. The people who write make the site. (I’m sorry that rhymes.)
The group of people who made Gotfrag important is a group that will be particularly hard to assemble again. The vast majority have since moved on to other projects, or have just plain moved on past gaming. Even the track record of those that have stuck around gaming for a while since has not been one of unanimous success. If it were possible to ‘get the band back together again,’ would they be able to jam at the same level they did six or seven years ago?
If we’re being realistic, though, that’s probably not the plan at all. They probably expect to be able to recreate that magic with a new group of friends, the best crew that MLG’s money can buy. And they’d probably be able to put out a pretty good product by sheer force of cash alone. But would it really be Gotfrag, a site laser-focused on the needs of FPS communities first and foremost, or would it be something else?
Rod Breslau argued recently on Twitter that my publisher, this site (ESFI World), “has not filled the editorial void.” Fine. While this crew has come a hell of a long way since opening it’s doors, there’s still quite a lot of room for growth. But, it’s a void that’s existed since the beginning; Gotfrag itself didn’t fill it fully even at its height, nor did it create it entirely on its implosion.
Putting that aside, even if we here aren’t covering every corner of the scene that’s deserving of attention, is it really an appropriate role for MLG to attempt to pick up? Isn’t some lag between the growth of a burgeoning sports league, and the growth of the media covering it, to be expected? Producing live video coverage and interviews in-house is one thing; filling an ‘editorial void’ is another. Wouldn’t such a move simply revive concerns around conflicts of interest — the same concerns that many around the scene voiced in the first place when Gotfrag was sold?
These are questions that should weigh heavily with MLG before trying to reboot Gotfrag. The neglect of the original community there is not something that will be easily hyped under the rug.
I understand that for guys like Slasher, Singlecoil, and Lee, the prospect of reliving the glory days of gaming past could be pretty attractive. Even so, I think they would do well to buck that nostalgia and admit what the rest of us have known for some time now: that their darling is well, and truly, dead.