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So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Dubai.

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Posted May 26, 2011 by Danny O'Dwyer in Editorial
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It’s been almost two years since I moved to London and rebuilt Citizen Game to the WordPress behemoth you see here before you. To many of you it probably seems as long since I updated the site. In honesty the last thing I remember publishing was our December podcast – so it’s about time I broke the silence and let you in on what the hell has been going on.

Around January of this year myself and games journalism had a bit of a falling out. The staff’s 4 month plan to drive traffic to the site and try and create a business around Citizen Game had been a failure. What’s worse was the reason we failed. In shying away from regularly updated news and concentrating on original writing and media, we’d been sticking two fingers up to the tried and tested methods of generating traffic. Don’t get me wrong, this was the plan all along. We didn’t want to work on a website that worked alongside the frankly ridiculous games newswire. I hoped that our content would be powerful enough for word of mouth to collect a strong workable user-base, especially as more and more high profile industry people were shouting our praises. But in the end it was wishful thinking and our daily numbers failed to get anywhere close to what was required.

So for me, this was pretty frustrating. To work in this industry I would have to bow down to those same forces I’ve been trying to rally against all along; getting in bed with the news cycle, promoting reviews above other original content and concentrating less on media to have more time to develope user tools.

This hot-dog represents hunger. Hunger and bacon.

At around this stage I began to understand the tired look on many thirty-something game journalists and I wasn’t particularly enjoying video games much either. Citizen Game was supposed to be a little leg-up for independent games journalists to get some sort of exposure. A decent looking website with a loyal audience that could help their portfolio look a little bit better to secure that illusive interview. The problem was it was also a showpiece for myself – though in what area (web design / media / journalism / production) I was still  unsure.

Arrogant prat.

Any of you I’ve met will know I’m a pretty humble guy, but I’d like to think I’m realistic about my abilities too. Before starting Citizen Game I had never not been offered a job I interviewed for. Up until London my professional life had been a string of successful toe-dips into a range of interesting media – many of which I still work in freelance today. I’d be the first to say it had been pretty easy. I was lucky that my interests (web / graphics / radio / video) were also things that people wanted to pay me to do – and as a young guy probably pay me less than the going rate. So whether or not I deserved all the work I was given, my confidence and winning mentality wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer. At least not for long.

Just before moving to London I had unsuccessfully interviewed for a position at a major UK gaming website. It was the “dream job” and not securing the position was devastating. I’m not a bitter person, and still wish the individual all the best, but I knew in my heart I had far more to offer and swore to prove to everybody that I new what I was doing.

I moved to London to do this. Without hesitation I said goodbye to my family and a bunch of possible career routes, to give myself a better chance of securing a job in games journalism in the UK next time my turn came around and Citizen Game was to help me showcase my expanding range of skills.

That’s how my involvement in Citizen Game version 3 started and this is, perhaps, how it ends.

Decision Time

Dubai, home of big buildings full of people not eating bacon.

My quandary is one of both heart and mind. In my heart my love of games journalism is wavering and my desire to expand my talents and live a rich and exciting life is growing. After two years of London I’m beginning to feel comfortable and I want to feel the excitement of adventure all over again. My girlfriend and I have jobs that allow us to move around. She teaches science and I make websites and media. We can pretty much work in any city in the world – the only barrier being language.

If I was work in games journalism this would no longer be the case. The list of places I could work drops to under half a dozen realistic possibilities. It would also mean taking a substantial cut in pay. The average entry level writer collects about £15,000 per annum. Next year I would be hoping to earn closer to twice that, and my girlfriend already does.

More importantly games journalism has become stagnant. Most sites are creativity black-holes, making basic errors on how to communicate effectively with their users. It’s staggering to me how major games sites write-off abuse from registered users as acceptable and it’s been this way for years now. Conversely the internet and video are constantly evolving.

So this coming July I’ll wave goodbye to London, the UK and Europe as my girlfriend and myself are moving to Dubai. She has already secured a job teaching English curriculum science in one of the city’s finest schools, while I am currently looking for a position. For those of you who don’t know Dubai is a city located in the United Arab Emirates, a state on the Eastern border of the Arabian Peninsula just south of Iran. It’s an incredibly fascinating part of the world where Western consumption and Islamic values collide. I’ll wait for another post to get into why I’m so excited to be moving to a place that has laws against homosexuality, bacon and beer.

Prodigal Son

In the back of my head I hope that in time my skills in and experience in web will allow me to return to the industry in a production or management role, but if there is anything I have learned about myself these two years in London – it’s to not expect something too much. I’m looking forward to expanding my own personal horizons in Dubai.

As it happens the Middle East’s gaming scene is expanding quickly, with the 4th annual Dubai Games Festival being held this coming Winter. Maybe I’ll become Citizen Game’s Arab gaming correspondent. Well, maybe just a blog – only time will tell.

But for now I leave you with this – the site is not dead, I’m just trying to figure out how to transition to a new core team before I leave. In any case I just wanted to thank everybody who visited the site, commented on our posts, listened to the podcast, watched our videos and attended our live event. In spite of it not reaching my own lofty expectations, Citizen Game has been one of the proudest projects I’ve ever worked on and if nothing else it has helped me make some genuine friends for life and a broad range of internet-mates I look forward to meeting in the future.

Talk soon citizens.

PS: I haven’t even gotten to mention how myself, Denis and Dale are making a video game.

The Citizen Gamecast will be returning this weekend for a special show. On it we’ll talk more about an interesting year for Citizen Game and future projects including Triple D Games. Id also like to mention that I had to write NEWS backwards for the webcam in the thumbnail of this article. This took me about ten minutes to get right.


About the Author

Danny O'Dwyer


12 Comments


  1.  

    It’s with a profound, polarising sensation that I absorb this post; it’s a delight to see the overlong silence broken, with a surge of site activity, but in the worst possible way. The last two years saw CitizenGame as an ironclad bookmark in my browser, and I would literally count down the days until the next podcast. Not to eulogise, but your official departure is a nullifying milestone: as a podcast listener, you were the emblematic, warm, endearing host, and certainly the fulcrum of Triple-D trifecta. You’ve granted us all numerous hours of entertainment, all of which was unglaublich.
    Good luck your future endeavours- hopefully your Herculean efforts are better-received than this overlooked treasure




  2.  

    Love the headline.

    Danny, I’ve enjoyed all things CG ever since I discovered the podcast a few years ago. It was a pleasure to contribute in my own small ways, namely making a few seconds of music, sharing stories of crazy Norwegian return policies, and shooting your horse in the FACE!

    Seriously, though, you’re one talented SOB. Best of luck in Dubai.




  3.  

    How very strange. This article has just brought up how much this little site meant to me. I mean, I occasionally browsed CG if I was free to do so, sometimes commented on things, watched videos, read parts of reviews, so I was the sort of fair weather fan of CG, selfishly only really paying attention to the forums when I had some garbage to spew on it.

    However, what’s even more saddening than you leaving, Danny, it’s perhaps the fact that you seem to believe you’ve failed in some respect. Let me say this very clearly and bluntly. The quality of writing, the depth of character that the writers here display, and the level of care that you guys have put in to everything far surpasses anything that PC Gamer have published in the past 2 years. Perhaps not in popularity, but in soul.

    If given the chance, I’d sooner write for you guys and make absolutely no money at all, then get a 20k job writing for a publication. Why? Because you guys write articles because you love gaming, write about something because it means something to you, rather than write them because other people will read it. Don’t you dare do anything silly like close this website down, or I swear I will come to Dubai, haul your ass to a PC and force you to design it again.

    Best of luck for the future Danny.




  4.  

    Profound sadness. Can’t explain how much fun I’ve had doing this with ya’ll.

    /nohomo




  5.  
    jay___k

    I really can’t thank you enough Danny for giving me the opportunity to write for CG as i was able to use it to add examples of my writing to my portfolio, which would later help me gain entrance to my #1 university of choice and also to secure a position writing for my school newspaper. Best of luck in Dubai , and am looking forward to see Triple D’s progression.




  6.  

    Thanks everybody for the kind words, it means a lot. I’m very sorry it’s taken this long to come out, but for a majority of reasons I couldn’t talk about some of this until now – so without telling the entire story I didn’t feel like I could write anything.

    That doesn’t make up for not being proactive with the site. For that I apologise. We’re going to fix over the coming days and weeks.

    Thanks again, and make sure to listen into the podcast this weekend, and another myself and Denis record here in London next week.




  7.  

    Good luck fine sir. CG has always been a pleasure to read :)




  8.  
    Kaz

    Best of luck, Danny!

    You’ve done an amazing job on the website, the podcast, and the show.

    I’m glad CitizenGame will still remain, so your creation will still represent itself to other gaming websites.

    Not to mention, the great community you have generated here over the years.

    I hope you do get your break in the games industry.

    All the best




  9.  

    Good luck in Dubai, Danny. I’m surprised you even spent this long setting up and promoting a free games journalism sight. If you managed to carry it on… I’d be thoroughly impressed.

    Look forward to playing the first Triple D game and hearing the new podcast.

    Have fun in Dubai!

    (PS. Motorsports are massive in Dubai)




  10.  
    Cian

    Cheers for everything Danny,
    Thanks to you I have a keen interest in the behind the scenes of video game Journalism – from which my mate and I have set up a video game podcast (which we hope to expand to itunes and beyond) we are always looking to the future on what we can do -e.g video shows,going to events to cover,etc

    wish ya all the best
    hopefully we can set up one quick F1 race in Dubai before you head off to there.




  11.  

    All the best to you and Dierdre in Dubai, Danny. Wow, I guess you’ll be known as 3D! Well, at least I found that one funny.

    Anyway, on a more serious note, thanks for getting me interested in games journalism through this site. It’s been a pleasure to at least have been a part of something new, even if it didn’t reach the echelons you had hoped for. In my eyes, CG is still a fantastic and unique place for all gamers alike and I look forward to it’s evolution.

    It was a pleasure to hang out with you and all the CG crew at the Live Event back in October, too…even if I don’t remember that much of it! *hic*

    Have a good one my friend, live long and prosper.




  12.  

    Thanks for everything Danny. I owe you many a beer for the opportunities I’ve had because of Citizen Game!

    Good luck in Dubai!





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