I have absolutely no idea why I’m here.
If you put a gun to my head and demand to know the secret to this site and this organization’s longevity, I would not have an answer for you. Not a good one, at any rate. I stopped writing yearly Specials for this day at year 17. By at least one official account, I retired from day-to-day duties here almost five years ago. Many would argue I should have been run out of here far before that. Had the deck of life been dealt a different way, this site likely would have never been resurrected in 2008.
For that answer, you would have to wade through sheer number of stories told through here by the talented and patient number of people and the eclectic variety of perspectives they share–a task too great to abridge in one single recollection.
All I can say for sure is that since April 2, 1999, I have written, edited, reported, recorded, corrected, retracted, apologized, presented, commented, and played right along side some of the most ambitious, creative, and dedicated individuals our world has to offer. And I have done it across the time of four U.S. presidents, four console generations, and about 50 released Sonic games. I have done it on the Web, on radio both Internet and terrestrial, on streaming video, in print, and on social media. At points, I probably should not have engaged in the latter.
Most important in this journey, is what I have not done. For all but a few blips on the radar, I have not done it alone.
From our current team of Donnie, Ryan, Lou, Andrea, Noah, Rybo, and soon Fernando, to Dennis Spielman, who was our first reporter to join and contribute to TSSZ in 1999 in a time when stories were updated manually in HTML, and the many, many in between who chose this platform, and its platforms, of all platforms, to advance truth and build a better community–I am thankful to be and have been in their company. I say a lot of things about the reporting I’ve done at TSSZ, but rarely if ever have I said my reporting is good. The good comes from those who have helped me evolve and adapt over time.
That evolution has been this website, a monthly podcast before they were even called podcasts, a modest Twitter following of more than 7,000, an Internet radio station that once had the name of a TV station, an FM radio program available in five states for three cycles, just about 30 episodes of live video news, countless hours of Plays, countless people eternally upset at the idea this place and I still exist, and countless awards from an era when sites would make GIFs and hand out awards to one another.
Speaking of “an era,” by my best estimate, TSSZ is one of five Sonic sites from 1999 that remain online and active. If you wondered, the other four are Sonic HQ, SOAH City, Sonic Fan Games HQ, and The Green Hill Zone. The Moogle Cavern exists in tribute, maintained by staff behind its spiritual successor Sonic Eats Rings. All of us have adapted in some way to this current climate where InstaNews is a now dead crowdsourcing app for mobile, and Reaction is a sub-genre for YouTube stardom.
The funny thing about all of those places, by the way? I was a one-time reporter for Sonic HQ, SOAH’s founder was our first staff member, I had a demo hosted on SFGHQ for years, and I frequented both MoogleMB and the GHZ.
To me, the most shocking thing about the past 20 years isn’t that Sonic kissed a human being, or that he donned a sword, or that a group of passionate programmers born out of this community produced one of the all-time greatest Sonic platformers, or that an idea talked about long before we came online will, for better or worse, be realized later this year when the Sonic movie is released.
The most shocking thing is that witnessing it all and documenting it here has not felt any more special than anyone who has been around doing anything for 20 years would lead you to believe. To be sure, it has been neither mechanical nor mundane. It can be engaging yet engrossing. The one constant, the one point of pride I own from 20 years of service to this community, is in it being just that – a public service.
I don’t know if I have 5 more years in the tank, let alone 20. As long as our team and I are able to provide this service, no matter how it’s provided, we will. That’s why we’re here. Come to think of it, that’s why I’m here, too.