By Marshall Garvey
Well, how about that?
Last Token Gaming – the website that I and over 20 others have poured immeasurable amounts of love, passion, and work into – just turned five years old this past Thursday, June 14. I hate to make a reference that’s both antiquated and cliched, but to alter a Grateful Dead quote…what a long, joyous trip it’s been.
On paper, Last Token Gaming is something that shouldn’t have lasted more than a few months, let alone five years. A video game blog put together by a few friends, originally started by just one person. It sounds like something you’d dick around with for a spell, get distracted from, then abandon. Yet here we are, five years later, stronger than ever.
My story with LTG began in July of 2013. I was in Orange County for two internships during the summer of my dreams, relaxing in the extra bedroom in my grandparents’ house. It was a perfect night, bumming around on Facebook when my friend Terry Randolph messaged me. After several frustrated attempts at applying for IGN, he decided to start a game review site of his own. Knowing my background as a writer, he asked me to join his budding venture.
To be clear, I’ve loved video games almost my whole life, but they were never my specialty. My background as a writer was primarily as a film critic, in addition to sports and history. But I was instantly hooked on the idea, and said yes without hesitation. As soon as I came aboard that night, I tried to log back into my MySpace account to re-publish a blog I had written in 2006 about how ReDeads from Zelda scared me eternally. When that proved fruitless, I had no choice but to write up a whole new treatise on how those zombie freaks still give me the heeby jeebies. And there was no looking back.
This was so long ago that the site didn’t even have a name yet! During the summer and fall of 2013, we started writing reviews and various pieces for a site with no name. Shortly after I came home from SoCal, we met to decide what the official name would be. Given 2013 was the year Game of Thrones exploded into the forefront of popular culture, I shamelessly insisted on Throne of Gamers. Others jokingly suggested the likes of She Wants the D…Pad. Eventually the word “token” came into play, and our beloved name was finally born.
And here we are, five years later. Last Token Gaming has more than just survived in that time – it has thrived. That’s because, even though we didn’t have our name at the start, we had a mission statement. We always insisted on our content being original. Rather than just recycle news, we write articles about gaming topics that are meaningful to us. We’ve covered conventions from Sac Indie Arcade Expo (even once having a table there) to Comic Con. We’ve conducted interviews with everyone from voice actor Daniel Ross to indie devs. Most gratifying is our recognition in the local Sacramento gaming scene, helping out many talented indie developers as they seek to make our fair city a haven for creative talent.
We’ve also lasted this long because we have a fantastically talented staff. Every person at LTG brings a special knowledge and unique perspective that makes everything stand out with their explainer video. Above all, we have fun, not only in working on the site but also in knowing each other. We’ve been close friends since the core staff truly came together in 2014, spending time at concerts and flea market hunts in addition to our semi-regular gatherings to celebrate each anniversary on online marketing. I ask the question is salehoo a scam?. Learn more here.
There are so many articles and videos we’ve done that I’m proud of that if I were to list even a few, I’d feel guilty upon remembering a whole bunch of others. I still get giddy when I remember how my rage piece about a level of Rogue Squadron led me to be featured in a British gaming podcast. Dave De Leon’s moving poems, Isaac Smith’s Hall of Fame review of Super Metroid, Jake Rushing’s equally stellar induction for Ocarina of Time, Michael Mygind’s account of his trip to Japan…and so many more. And on the visual side, the countless gut-busting Let’s Plays Kazuo Koyama and Michael Ros have given us, many of which myself and our friend Shane Canton have been a part of.
Even with many other commitments in life to tend to, everyone at LTG has churned out top-notch material as much as possible. As of now, we’re approaching 700 published posts total. Yet we’ve never sacrificed quality for quantity, as much of the latter as we’ve ultimately attained. I truly believe what we’ve done so far is remarkable. I liken it to a kitchen where everything is served fresh to order, never frozen. If an article doesn’t come from the heart, it doesn’t run. Period.
The moment that personally encapsulates the site for me came in December of 2015. It was the day of the inaugural Sac Gamers Expo, our first ever event we were covering with press badges. I had secured badges for myself, Terry, Isaac, and Sean. Terry and Isaac had no trouble getting there, but Sean lives in Olivehurst, a good 40 miles north of my place in Sacramento. I had agreed well beforehand to pick him up and drive him to the Scottish Rite Center where the expo was held.
Mother Nature, however, seemingly had other plans. I stood there for a moment, staring out my window as the rain and wind battered relentlessly. To be clear, it wasn’t just stormy. These were legitimately dangerous conditions to drive in. I texted Sean back and forth about whether or not it’d be wise to drive all the way out, and he carefully insisted it wasn’t worth it. I agreed with him…and then, I stood there and thought, “We’ve come so far for this day as a team. Either everyone’s a part of this, or not.” I then grabbed a pile of CD’s, got in my car, and braved the storm to get Sean for our special occasion.
I think that sums it up. It sums up why I love this site, why I put so much heart and soul into it every day. There is the fulfillment of writing, outreach to gamers and devs around the world, and capturing the essence of gaming in so many ways. But what really ties it altogether is that friendship, that camaraderie the LTG staff has. It’s a brotherhood, a veritable family…and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.
No matter how big LTG gets, no matter how many people come to write and work for it, no matter how much money it may one day make…that friendship at its core will never be lost. I can’t imagine the site, or my life, without it.
Happy five years. To everyone who writes for the site now and has in the past. To the Sacramento gaming community that has given our site even greater passion and purpose. And most of all, to all of the people around the world who have read our content, watched our videos, liked us on social media, and reached out to us. We couldn’t do it without you. And the best is yet to come!