Events / Philadelphia

Technically Not Tech: Joystiq

It may seem that Joystiq is located in some fancy tower in some far-off city with a staff of a dozen writers. After all, the blog is owned by the largest media company in the world, is the 18th most popular blog on the Web and is one of the largest video game blogs in […]

It may seem that Joystiq is located in some fancy tower in some far-off city with a staff of a dozen writers. After all, the blog is owned by the largest media company in the world, is the 18th most popular blog on the Web and is one of the largest video game blogs in the world. And, as one look in Google Reader would tell you, they produce a boat load of breaking news, reviews and industry rumors that put traditional video game media outlets to shame.
But Joystiq is the result of a team of telecommuters from all over the world led by Philadelphia’s own Christopher Grant, who plugs away at the site in his Fishtown home with the help of his staff. Two staffers, Ben Gilbert and Dave Hinkle, live in and around Philadelphia as well.
While most large multi-author blogs do not have a true “headquarters,” Philadelphia has long had its impact on Joystiq. The man who Grant replaced and the site’s first editor, Vladimir Cole, was a graduate student at Wharton.
We chatted with Joystiq’s Editor-in-Chief about his climb to the top of Joystiq and found out who was lucky enough to receive four boxes of free video games from him.
Joystiq's Christoper Grant
Grant got into writing about his passion much like any other writer: by bugging the crap out of a newspaper editor. His girlfriend’s cousin happened to be the assistant editor of Philadelphia Weekly’s Arts and Entertainment section.
“I always teased her about how her publication was completely irrelevant to the entire demographic that they were seeking to go after,” said Grant, who was working as a carpenter at the time. “I told her ‘The biggest consumer product out there right now is video games, and you don’t cover them at all’.” Grant also argued that the very group of people that play video games the most, the 18-34 year old male, was one of the most highly sought after demographics by the paper’s advertisers.
Grant, who has an English degree, was soon offered a column and spent nearly a year writing 500-word reviews that appeared in the alternative weekly when he was noticed by Joystiq editor at the time, Vladimer Cole.
The North Jersey-native worked his way up the Joystiq ladder realizing after only a short time that the site could use some work and began putting more and more time into it. When AOL purchased Weblogs Inc. (a story in itself) Grant made sure he snagged a full time gig.
Now, Grant is officially a “senior programming manager” at AOL responsible for the entire Joystiq network. That network has blossomed, including subdomains focusing on individual consoles and blogs focused on specific niches in gaming such as WowInsider. However, as a result, despite his love for the city — he just recently purchased a home in Fishtown — he can’t really focus on topics specific to Philadelphia.
“I keep my head down working on the stuff that is relevant to us, which is not regional,” said Grant “games is a global industry.”
But as the man in charge, Grant did bring on local writer and Geekadelphia blogger Ben Gilbert after Gilbert approached him outside the Electonics Entertainment Expo. Gilbert had been a long-time fan of Joystiq and ran his own video game site called Quarterplay (now on hiatus).
Grant said that having some local help gives him the flexibility to delegate some tasks. “For example the other day I dropped off four boxes of video games at his house, stuff that they send me and I don’t want to sit on. You would think that getting a box of video games is like a fun treat, but it’s really not. It’s a lot of work there.”
Gilbert disagreed. “It was like Christmas, I have been playing video games non-stop the past few days,” he said.
Every Monday, Technically Not Tech will feature people, projects, and businesses that are involved with Philly’s tech scene, but aren’t necessarily technology focused. See others here.

Companies: Joystiq

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