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January 2015 Retro Gaming Article


January 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The shuttering of online video game publication, Joystiq, reveals that AOL still exists

Joystiq logo Reading a recent Polygon headline about the closing of video game publication Joystiq caught me off guard. I felt an internal jolt - a pain of sorts. It's a familiar feeling from past news of similar closings. When Larry Flynt's skateboard mag, Big Brother, was shelved or Mac World magazine or the closing of Borders Books - I was stunned. These familiar things that had filled my life, in some manner, were suddenly gone. It oddly feels like mourning a loss.

Not as tragic as the loss of a loved one, but much the same in the feeling that something has been taken from me that couldn't be replaced. Voids will always be filled, but that filling is never adequate. We identify with certain things and they become a part of us. They become something that isn't easily replaced - that's what made them special in the first place.

I enjoyed Joystiq over the years.
I had no idea they were ten years old.
I had no idea they were owned by AOL.

I had no idea that AOL still existed!

To me America Online was a dial-up service that somehow weaseled their way into Time Warner. In the early 90s I was intrigued by modems and the amazing things they could connect to. OK, if the truth were to be told... the things I connected to were hardly "amazing". They were the same services that many of us discovered.

America Online logo Despite their garden-variety nature, I adored Prodigy, Compuserve, Delphi and even AOL. America Online seemed to be the next evolution in such online services. Where command line yielded to visually appealing GUI interfaces, AOL seemed to do this for the text-ridden services of it's competitors.

But we all discovered this thing called the internet and ... well, who needed AOL any more?

I missed that awkward voice telling me "You've got mail," but the Net was open and AOL mail was locked inside that proprietary little world that I no longer needed. Gradually, the mailbox at the end of my driveway contained fewer and fewer AOL upgrade diskettes and CDs. Not long after, I forgot all about AOL. I assumed they went the way of the buggy whip with the advent of automobiles.

Once a company that filled me with awe and wonder, I let AOL slip from my memories as they were easily replaced by the wide open world of the world wide web. AOL was no Big Brother, nor Mac World, and they certainly provided nothing as astounding as my local Borders Book store. AOL was eminently replaceable. They served their purpose and I moved on as soon as they lagged behind something obviously better.

In 2015, the last company I ever expected to hear about was America Online or AOL as they prefer to be called. I didn't know they existed in our modern world of the "internet of everything". Discovering they own Joystiq among other properties, surprised me.

I'll miss Joystiq since they provided something useful, interesting and often challenging. Knowing that AOL still exists prompts me to wonder if buggy whips still have SKUs in auto parts databases.

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