I’ve gradually being doing less and less work on my computer games website, Games Toaster. Little at all in the last year. Craig Gallagher has now all but taken over.
In an email recently to a few people I said it’s now the best part of a decade since the site started. But I really started what became Games Toaster more than a decade ago. Sometime around 1997 I started up a hints and cheats website on Telecom Eireann‘s tinet.ie web space (Wow, I feel old!). Anyway, the site was moulded into a news and reviews site at the start of 2000. I call it ‘the site’ but what I still see as one site was renamed (the Irish Gamer, and Gamire.com before Games Toaster) and redesigned a number of times.
I didn’t have childhood dreams of wanting to become a journalist. The closest things to that were wanting to become a photographer (something I’m thinking of looking into doing along side writing) and my friend and I recording our self pretending to be DJs or when younger pretending we were Sky News reporters (both not something I ever really want to do). Running the site has changed my life. It got me interested in journalism.
At some point I realised I like the writing part more than playing games. I still like computer games, but journalism is my first love now, and I hope I can make a living of it. Craig is more review focused, but the high point of the site for me was when I was writing a lot of news and features other than reviews. When we were doing something different than anybody else. Covering stories nobody else was, or just with an Irish angle, but also asking questions nobody else was. When games made national news, sometimes we were just covering stories far more informed than the professional general media. May not sound like much to most people, but I love this kind of stuff. For example, the feeling when I was the only one in a packed press presentation to spot a planned feature was in clear breach of copyright law was great, that I pursued the story and seemed to be correct was even better.
I’ve learnt a hell of a lot from it way before doing my HND. From researching and writing to attending press and other events. It also got me travelling more than I would have, first to Dublin and over to the UK, and also to LA which pushed me to go even further afield.
So, a big thanks to anybody who help me out on the site. Including all the reviewers in those years (more than six, I think, including one from the UK), to companies who gave us review copies and answered our annoying questions when the site was more news focused, to Google News for picking us up and giving us a wider readership, to those who complained about us and made us better and, most of all, to all the people who read the site.