It’s a sad day today as I hear from my good buddy Ryan Olsen that Kombo.com is no more, with the URL now simply redirecting to GameZone.com, who purchased the site a while back.
Kombo.com holds some particular personal significance for me, as it does for many of the great friends I made while working for the site. Compared to many of the grizzled old veterans who had been working on the site since 2005, I was a relative newbie, only joining the team last year.
As most of you probably know by now, last year was Not a Good Year. Having been forced out of a job I genuinely loved by bullying management at the end of the previous year, finding employment in a primary school 40 miles away from where I lived, discovering that yes, Aldershot is indeed a shithole, even when dealing with 8 year olds, I quit my job in March of 2010 to attend PAX East (to this day quite possibly the best few days of my life EVAR) and around a similar time I started contributing to Kombo.com as a news editor. A short while after PAX East, my wife and I separated and I found myself alone in a flat I couldn’t afford with no job and seemingly no prospects of finding one that wasn’t supply teaching — a career path which would have likely ended rather abruptly with me flinging myself off the nearby Itchen Bridge had I pursued it.
As time went on and my finances dwindled, writing for Kombo every day — even if it was at US-friendly, UK-antisocial hours — gave me something stable to cling on to. This was something I desperately needed during those difficult months. There were many days when I found it very difficult to function as a normal human being, so badly was I hurting. But when it came to time to sit down and work my shift at the virtual news desk, that all went away for a few hours. It was just me, GamesPress, a lot of Chrome tabs and the Worst CMS In The World.
One of my favourite things about working for Kombo, though, was the people I had the good fortune to meet as a result, all of whom I’m happy to count among my friends today. All of them have gone their separate ways since September of last year, when most of us departed from the site due to its heading in a direction that wasn’t for us (with some of us forming our anarchic rainbow unicorn collective The Big Pixels, still ably maintained by Geoff Calver). But we all still talk to each other daily — through email, through Twitter, through Facebook, through G+. It’s great to see that Kombo, despite being a relatively small site compared to the giants out there, managed to give a lot of people the foot in the door they needed to pursue a career in various parts of the games industry. Some went into PR. Some went into development. Some still write on a hobbyist basis while pursuing other careers, and I write professionally.
It’s also been nice to see that diverse members of my groups of friends online knew the name Kombo — even people that I wouldn’t necessarily have expected to. The site will be missed, and not just by those of us who wrote for it. It’s the end of an era and — sadly — the end of some people’s portfolios (archive.org notwithstanding) as the old content seems to have vanished altogether.
Kombo.com gave me a leg-up into the industry and it’s part of the reason I write about games as my full time job now. I’ll miss it, and I invite you to doff your caps and raise a glass as its flame goes out for the last time.