is ModernMethod's first web site. It is equal parts a total hack, an incredibly lucky streak, and the tenacious story of what was only inevitable.
"What is a Destructoid? It sounds like a construction company" - Our bank teller
In 1986 Yanier Gonzalez started his first (of many failed) video game clubs. Back then we didn't have the internet, so recruits were expected to keep a journal of their gaming skills on
memo pads that they could trade with other players to help them get an edge on their games.
He also not-so-secretly hoped that he would grow up to use them as a video game counselor, answering phones for gamers in need or writing for the now-dead Nintendo Fun Club magazine. The "game counselor" profession quickly dissolved after the Internet happened, so the dream was dead. However, years later a friend suggested something brilliant:
"You love gaming, so go to E3 expo. People with blogs can get invited. Make one."
That evening the site was built hastily for the purposes of getting us press passes to the exclusive Electronics Gaming Expo. We barely made it. Today we're one of the top sites that breaks news from that event. Destructoid is a huge success: the site has millions of followers and has grown into one of the top most respected gaming sites
worldwide (don't take it from us: Cnet said it),
taking home four Webby Nominations in the gaming category since
the site's inception in 2006.
As a web designer by trade and a life-long critic of gaming, the blog came easy. In 2006 the industry was rampant with doctored photos of games, fake internet fan-sites built by agencies, phony pre-rendered videos, you name it. Instead of writing video game reviews or politely regurgitating press releases we dared to pick fights. We built a name by fearlessly calling out industry nonsense -- and have never backed down. In our industry our voice is uncharacteristically authentic; one of a kind.
As luck would have it one of the gaming industry's top enemies, a lawyer named Jack Thompson, also operated in Miami. If you remember reading about his downfall and disbarment, it came from us first. We beat everybody to the scoop and it was an important moment for gamers everywhere -- and happened in Miami of all places! The series of well-circulated interviews that followed were published by Yanier's alter ego "Niero", a childhood nickname he used to blog to avoid trouble with his day job. Armed with a publishing platform in his pocket he had everything he needed to be the first with the news. "Cheap wireless devices and the social web leveled the playing field. I was only one guy, but I beat AOL, IGN, Gawker, and every major news media to the scoop because I had the story posted on our site through my Blackberry before the court ended session. YouTube had just launched, so I had full multimedia capabilities at no cost. The timing to rise up as an independent publisher could not have been better."
Oh, the robot? That came later. Inspired by the viral Burger King commercials, the mascot was born as a cheap home-made solution to launch a grass-roots awareness of the site at gaming events.
Yanier made his first version of the helmet by bolting together
air conditioner and car parts.
The helmet was later replaced with a professional costume created
by a special effects company, as seen below in green.
this stunt had crossed the line, including GamePolitics.com
who said we'd never be invited again to E3 (that post was taken down, but it's framed in our office). Was Destructoid too juvenile or was game journalism
taking itself too seriously? In the end, it didn't matter. The writing was good, so what could have easily become a gimmick became a beacon. "The helmet is a symbol of who we are as writers. We're here to have fun but we're also very serious and committed to our work."
The independent no-nonsense voice
of the site soon drew many fans and volunteers, and traffic
soared. When advertisers started calling Yanier knew he had
a chance of a lifetime to make it a business. He sold his car,
sold his house, and quit the agency to use the seed money to
hire high school friends to improve the code on the web site
and and hire an expanded editorial staff and also cover travel
costs. Juggling credit cards and braving late media checks the
unlikely company dared to wobble forward. Yanier: "It
was either now or never -- I had nothing to lose but the disappointment
of dying knowing that I didn't give it everything I had when
the opportunity was right there. I have to be stupid enough to dare."
Destructoid remains independent -- a raw, uncut and uncensored look at the gaming world.
Yanier remains site founder and CEO, works with many of his best friends, and can be seen chasing the next big scoop in San Francisco -- sometimes in a giant green helmet for old time's sake.
writers are present at all major gaming industry events and
often moonlight as game critics on MTV, G4, Gametrailers, and
SpikeTV. Destructoid's iconic robot is also a
licensed playable character in the best-selling Xbox Live
Arcade game of 2008: Hudson Entertainment's Bomberman Live,
marking the first appearance of a gaming web log within a popular
video game as well as on the PlayStation 3 release of Bomberman
Ultra. "More appearances in video games have been
negotiated since -- it's a win/win for Destructoid's brand team
and game developers who want turnkey audience appeal.",
ModernMethod's press page for all news happenings.
Yanier Gonzalez (fourth from right next to the robot)
says its less about playing games and all about connecting
we do at Destructoid is very social. Video games are just
the common thread, the conversation starter. Just look
at any of our community photos -- people have made best
friends and fallen in love through our site. I've traveled
the world and met all kinds of people myself -- and this
is my job. I play video games for a living. This is what
my team and I call living the dream."
of Mr. Destructoid
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