If Toy-TMA has any regular readers, then you probably know a bit about me by now. I am the Head Writer/Editor of the site and have been for the past couple of years. I am a diehard Nintendo fanboy, find joy in the faults of Dragon Ball Z, believe that Ninja Turtles are the greatest toys ever to grace this Earth, and generally claim to be a Pokemon Master without any real solid proof of such a current title. And I am moving on.
I started at Toy-TMA back in July of 2009 almost by accident. It all came about as a necessity to find professional work in a writing capacity since I discovered that I’d need at least 1-2 years of creative writing experience to even be considered for a job at Nintendo of America. I began searching online for whatever came my way, and in a short amount of time I found a handful of odd things. I did a few months as an intern writer for a game called American Dream 101. I spent another few months writing the rough script for a PC game meant to teach about wrongful accusations in a court of law. And of course I kept writing for myself when I found the time between school and boredom. But it was Toy-TMA that I ended up falling in love with, all because it was the most freeing.
When I began as a simple contributor, the site was relatively small, even by comparison to what it is now. I would get instructions to write simple 350-word articles on random topics, usually totaling 1000 words for a week’s worth of posts. At the time my boss, Ryan, would request specific reviews of games or retrospectives on toys and that would be that. But I’m a writer, and when you give a writer an opening to let loose, you must be prepared for the consequences. I took it upon myself to write up a short review of Dragonball: Evolution completely out of the blue and send it to him, saying that he could either run it or not but it was a bonus for the week. He ran it and from there I began picking and choosing my own articles a lot more.
My memory is hazy on the progression of things, but eventually the only other contributor, Chris Whitmore, finally parted ways, leaving me as the sole writer left. Given the task, I began updating as regularly as possible, frequently updating the site with five new articles a week. Looking back, I can’t understand how I managed to pull that off, but eventually Ryan left as my editor and put me in charge to run the ship, er, site.
From there I plodded along by myself until Gus popped in and started helping with simple guest contributions. I don’t remember if I asked him first or he just began sending me articles, but I wasn’t about to say no to something like a free day when I was usually so busy with weekly writing. After what I feel must have been half a year, I talked to my superiors about bringing Gus on as a full writer and from then we were two peas in a rather heated pod, he a stringent Sony supporter and me a Nintendo loyalist. And because of that I felt we balanced ourselves so very well.
Back when I first took over as the lead writer, I was asked to include a guest submission from Brian, who you may notice is our other weekly contributor. When it came time to seek another full-time writer, I turned to him and asked him to come on, being envious of his very clean and focused writing style. I can write on for five single-spaced pages about utter nonsense, but Brian is able to condense his entire thought into roughly one, and at the end you always want to hear more. That’s just brilliant work there.
Since I’ve been in charge, I’ve had my wife Sharayah do a few guest posts here and there, mostly when I needed to take a break for a week, and for a month or two one of my best friends, Kyle Martinak, was also contributing. There was also a stretch of a few months where Cassandra Poe was giving us truly inspired work on topics I never would have dreamed to look into. Kyle and I started doing a podcast, and then quickly stopped (and later did another and now host our third podcast over at The Escapist). We’ve started numerous features, from the Comic Book Club to Authentically Awesome Anime, my personal love Let’s Think Deep and the oft-flame-inducing Bad Games That Should Have Been Great.
Basically what I’m trying to say is, I’m proud to say that since I started I was able to take Toy-TMA from just a simple toy blog bought from another company (hence the name “Toy-TMA, which means like Toy Manufacturers of America or something), and make it Too Much Awesome. We had weekly numbers that were something to be envious of, and our Alexa ranking was unbelievable. Showing evidence of my editor position here even got me my current job as an SEO Specialist at a local company.
But now I’m ready to finally move on. Part of it is just feeling like it’s time as there’s not much more I can do here. I’ve written on so many topics that it’s hard to keep track. I’ve stood by and watched as some of the simplest articles such as the Final Fantasy VII April Fool’s article or the Best/Worst Pokemon lists ended up pulling in hundreds of comments, no small feat for a blog as little as ours. My Dragon Ball Z plothole articles also have comments in the hundreds, some positive and some negative, but standing as an example of people interacting with us. That’s an amazing feeling.
Half a year ago Google changed their algorithm, and for the majority of people this didn’t seem to mean anything whatsoever. But to anyone hosting a website, particularly one where the majority of their traffic came from Google searches, this was devastating. No matter how hard we’ve tried, we couldn’t bounce back. We even had a database hack quite a while ago that didn’t do any damage save for making Facebook believe we’re unsafe, meaning we lost the ability to post anything from our site there, even to friends. In no simple words, seeing how greatly this affected our site has been depressing at best and infuriating at worst.
However, this is not my main reason for parting ways. I’ve been focusing more on my weekly series over at The Escapist called No Right Answer, as well as the bi-monthly podcast Media Sandwich. Also, as only a sitcom life could play out, this Monday I got a call about a job interview with Nintendo of America not half a week after last week’s Why I Still Want To Work At Nintendo article. It’s only an interview, but it’s still a sign that I’m now ready to actively pursue a career in writing rather than a hobby.
While I’m leaving, I know that Brian is going to stay here every week, which is no small task as he is now a proud new father. Gus is also staying around until his 100th article, coming up in roughly two months. I greatly anticipate what he has in store for us. But me, I’m ready to step down. I can’t say enough how much I’ll miss the site as it gave me a place to rant on a weekly basis about utter nonsense in a forum other than Facebook or Blogspot. I’m proud of the writers and I’m proud of my work.
May we meet again in some other life. Until then, so long and thanks for all the fish.