There’s little chance you’re here, looking at this website that hasn’t updated in 3 years. I get the traffic reports, I know how many people still peruse these pages. The amount is effectively the equivalent of the background radiation of the Internet. That isn’t to say I don’t appreciate whoever comes to find this tombstone of mine, this epitaph towards the years in which I tried to write about interactive fiction and then, quite quickly and silently, stopped.
I love interactive fiction. Chances are, if you ever stopped at Storycade to read, you did too.
I’ve been introspective about Storycade as of late. Perhaps it’s the return and finale of Kentucky Route Zero that has caused this reaction — KRZ was one of the most successful articles on this site in terms of critical consensus, if that matters at all to you. Looking back at the article, I’m mostly happy with it thought it bears the marks of my own writing a bit too much for me to appreciate. It’s meandering, without point, and frequently far too personal. You can read it here. Since posting that article my feelings on Kentucky Route Zero and Storycade as a whole have morphed and grown more complicated, as these things frequently do.
See? I’ve already digressed from the original post. I think this gets to the point I was trying to make:
Why did I Stop Posting on Storycade?
In part, the answer is a writer asked me to be paid. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Writers deserve to be paid. However up til that point, most of the writing on Storycade was done either by myself or a close friend who wanted the outlet. Occasionally I would write on what amounts to be trades — I write for your site and you write for mine. It was a fairly simple situation. It was also unstable and destined for failure. Sites don’t run on mere will alone, and to grow and become an endeavor any reader or writer would be proud of they actually do need monetary income. When the writer asked for money, they mentioned their base pay per article was $100. To put it into perspective, that’s a fairly reasonable rate in the industry, especially for work in terms of narrative criticism. But at that point, it was also more than I’d ever been paid to write an article. That hasn’t actually changed. See, outside of this website I’m a bit of a hack — I don’t really write all that much, I’ve never been paid more than $40 for an article, and at most I’m serviceable. This isn’t a cry for compliments.
I couldn’t figure out how to monetize the site. I’m not very business minded. At 25, with a degree in English Literature and another in Telecom I was well situated to perhaps write about interactive fiction, but not to power a site. I didn’t know how to pay a writer what they deserved ($100 at least, c’mon). I considered a Patreon. Somewhere out there, there is actually the bones of a Patreon I started. I filled out the rewards. But I couldn’t ever bring myself to launch it. The site never generated enough views to justify ad revenue, and even if it had, I wasn’t sure what that would look like. How would that alter the product I’d made.
I stopped posting on Storycade, or as Storycade, because if you can’t pay your writers, then you can’t justify having a site at all. So I left the writing up, because good writing should be celebrated, and it wasn’t just my writing on the site, and I closed the doors.
When I left Storycade, I moved on to other sites, as a writer and not as an owner. Kill Screen (RIP) and also Unwinnable where I’m now managing editor. I brought Gingy with me — if you ever liked our Visual Novel coverage at Storycade, Gingy now runs a Friday regular feature on visual novels called Gingy’s Corner.
In that content, I think, you can see the legacy of Storycade if there even is one. I don’t know. It seems too vain to assume there’s some sort of legacy to Storycade that extends past the people I know — in any case I’m far too close to ever really comment on those kinds of things. I loved Storycade, I still do. It’s honestly one of the reasons its still around, why the bills are being paid to keep the lights on. It feels like a thing I could very well some day return to, but realistically I won’t. In the years since its closure I’ve grown further away from the interactive fiction community, I’ve grown busier. I’ve gotten married. I own a home. I don’t know if there is space in my life to give this site what it deserves, and so instead we’re holding an eternal Irish wake where aside from placing this gravestone, nothing changes.
It seems fitting to me that the epitaph for Storycade is written by me, to an audience of no one, in this overwrought personal style that I’ve come to cultivate. It seems fitting that this is likely the final post here. Goodnight. I’ll try to keep the lights on.