Polygon’s Chris Plante and Russ Frushtick talk launch, response to ‘Press Reset’

Written for practice/fun/personal enlightenment.

There are links in this article – click them, they’re entertaining.

With the first installment in Polygon’s making-of documentary nearing, Chris Plante, Editor-at-large and Russ Frushtick, Senior Editor give some insight into the future of site, as well as addressing the negative response to the documentary’s trailer.

“Don’t give him a date” Frushtick warns his colleague not to make any promises the site can’t keep. “It’s not that I’m worried about it or anything, but if we miss that date by a week .. it’s not good.” “We’ll have it soon,” Plante, former freelancer, confirms. “Within the year.”

In the latter months of 2011, with The Verge launched and expanding quicker than anyone thought, there was an exodus of editors-in-chief from the ‘big three’ gaming sites (Joystiq, Kotaku, the Escapist), much like the departure of staff from Engadget that had occurred months earlier. The announcement of The Verge’s gaming hub, led by Chris Grant, Brian Crecente and Russ Pitts the following January came as no surprise.

“Some of these people I’m always wanted to work with” admits Plante. “We all knew each other, maybe as colleagues, but it’s cool to have us all under the same roof” says Frushtik.

Even though the site hasn’t launched yet, Polyon’s media rich and design conscious reviews are a standout feature of The Verge’s gaming hub. Credit here goes to Arthur Gies, Polygon’s Reviews Editor and former art student. “You’ve got someone who loves artistic design, knows how to code and has the job of being reviews editor” Chris explains “that’s why we’re seeing a lot of these beautiful layouts. I think he’s a little impatient for us to get to the next site – he’s ready to start doing this now.”

While the design of the site isn’t yet finalised, Plante promises it won’t “just be a re-skin of The Verge.”

With such a wealth of talent, and such a long time in development, game fans are wondering how Polygon is going to break the mould and not become ‘just another gaming website’.

“Right now I can’t say how it’s different because it hasn’t launched. We haven’t even finished the design – it’s hard to say what’s different about it,” Plante says. “Blogs are fast, great for news coverage and beating it out the second it happens, magazines have great layout and sites like IGN are super comprehensive … Hopefully we can do all of that at once.”

These are ambitious words from Polygon’s editor-at-large. With the release of Press Reset’s (the Vox Media produced making-of Polygon doumentary) teaser trailer, some are calling it an act of vanity, and criticizing its unnecessary intensity and seriousness (“I may be living a trivial existence” is a worry expressed by Justin McElroy in the trailer).

#teamstanton was adopted like-minded British freelancers after Rich Stanton public criticism of Polygon on Twitter

“We do have Twitter,” says Plante “if so many people feel the same way, there is some merit to that opinion.” Plante and Frushtick seem to have genuinely taken this criticism to heart.

“We’re all extremely passionate,” Plante continues. “We have a site operating right now, and then we’re building this on the side.” The Verge’s predecessor ‘This is my next’ published a fraction of what the gaming hub currently outputs. “It’s hard not to get really invigorated and passionate about it. We wouldn’t be building a site if he didn’t care”.

“In a trailer they’re going to pull out the most bombastic statements,” adds Frushtick. “Because that’s what an editor does – what’s the alternative?” Plante points out the alternative trailers fans of the site have created, but it’s doubtful Press Reset will ‘export beats that exhilarate the heart and exterminate the weak’.

“It’s a test” says Plante, bringing the conversation back to a more positive tone. “For us to learn how to shoot things, how to cut them. Then we’ll take this start focusing on developers and people who make the games.”

Yet, when asked, Frushtick says Polygon won’t be creating an On The Verge style gaming talkshow. “I wouldn’t necessarily promise a certain format, but certainly a lot more video.” “A lot more video” emphasizes Plante.

While the editors are reluctant to give up a launch date, it would fair to assume Polygon will be live soon after the last episode of Press Reset, scheduled to air October 30th.

What will Frushtick and Plante be doing in the meantime? “Call of Duty” they both agree. “I’m about to prestige for the first time,” says Plante, reminding us that what really matters in games journalism is the games themselves, and how much fun they are. Really. Video games are fun.

MB

I have to give major thanks to Russ and Chris (and Alexa) for talking to me outside the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan, event though I was nervous, sleep deprived and very, very British.

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