I have some bittersweet news.
Starting today, Start Replay and all of its social media channels will cease to operate. This decision may come as a surprise to many of you, but in truth Start Replay’s fate has always been sealed, it’s simply been a matter of time.
Sadly, that time is now and I’ll explain why, but firstly I’d like to take a moment to reminisce…
Believe it or not I used to be a chef and after leaving that career behind I knew it would be challenging switching to an entirely different profession. When I started this website all the way back in January 2013 I created it with the intention of gaining experience in an industry that I love, in the hope that one day I’d get the chance to work for a big video game company and so, to start things off, I set myself the goal of going to E3.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is probably the most prestigious gaming event in the world. It’s a show that attracts tens of thousands of journalists from all over the globe and as an avid fan of video games, E3 was an event I could only dream of attending. If I wanted to gain access I faced one big hurdle: press credentials. Luckily, since I ran a blog and had posted one article a month since August 2012 (over at startreplay.blogspot.co.uk) I already had a head start. I quickly decided to register it as a fully-fledged site and under the newly formed banner of startreplay.com (and a mere week after going live), I was an accredited member of the press – in the eyes of those reviewing press entries for E3 at least – and had my tickets booked for E3 2013.
Spring forward to present day and a lot has happened over the last 63 months. The video game community has welcomed me with open arms and I’m proud to say that, in the process, I’ve made some true friends for life. The opportunities I’ve received have also been unbelievable and I never thought I’d get this far. I may not have acquired millions of followers or a regular income, but Start Replay was always a platform to gain industry experience and it’s served its purpose incredibly well.
That leads me to why I’m writing this post. I still find it hard to believe, but I’m very happy to be able to say (finally) that starting in early May I’ll be officially working in the video game industry as a Junior PR Manager. That, of course, means stopping Start Replay and archiving its content. Whilst the website will no longer operate and its social media accounts will be deleted, I may still make content viewable through an open blog and the YouTube channel will also remain open for viewers who wish to watch any content I’ve produced thus far, though I won’t be updating it or responding to comments. I entertained the idea of giving the site to someone else on the team, but as it’s been my passion project it wouldn’t feel right to let someone else take it over.
It would be amiss to explain what an amazing journey I’ve had, without thanking everyone who has helped contribute to Start Replay over the years. I’d like to firstly give a big personal shoutout to my friend Ben Seward, someone who spent his valuable time and heard-earned cash to join me at countless trade shows and events, as well as helping with a ton of technical stuff that I simply wasn’t capable of. Without his help and support from the beginning, none of this would have been possible. There’s also Tom Daden, another good friend of mine who joined the site shortly after Ben and, once again, gave up so much (time and money) to be a part of this ongoing journey.
In between that there’s a whole bunch of people – more friends who contributed to the site (Matthew Evans, Richard Evans, Freya Spiers, Joel Chapman, Theo Chapman, Sam Child), long-lost friends and many lovely and established industry veterans, all of whom have continued to support me in one way or another. In short: there are too many people to note here and if I did, I’d probably have to add an extra few paragraphs.
If you wish to follow my future endeavours in my new role (which I’ll be starting in early May) you can do so via my Twitter handle @ikbenball and to every reader, friend, family member and industry member who has supported me for the last 5 years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
See you on the other side.