Here’s a much more personal account of the history of NZism. First off, if you haven’t read the previous post explaining the facts about NZism’s demise, go read them here. That was a factual account. This one is going to have a lot more presumption and ‘feeling’ in it. So take that into account, because I’m sure some of it is wrong, but I have no reason currently to suppose otherwise.
Here’s me in 2007. I’d been intently following the fighting game scene for a decade and been interested in them for most of my life. I’d been aware of OzHadou for a good while and thought that there was absolutely no reason why something similar couldn’t work in NZ as well, so I decided to use my enthusiasm, technical know-how and obsession to mimic it. I really had no particular outcome in mind, and was perfectly happy to simply let it evolve as slowly and for as long as I still had interest, which I certainly didn’t see ending for a very long time indeed. Uptake was pretty slow, but I was fine with that. The people that joined the site were mainly MvC2 enthusiasts and that was a game with plenty to talk about.
A couple of years later Street Fighter 4 was released and that really kicked things off, the world over and for NZism also. Andy (Zosla), with some assistance from NZism, ran the first SF4 tournament in Auckland and that showed me that things were getting real, and that the community could be something big with some effort. I don’t live in Auckland so it was necessary for some local people up there to organise the events and do some foot work, but I was highly involved in the tournaments themselves. My goal was always to have simple, player focussed events, with all the money going back into the event itself. Several times I paid part of the venue fee myself just so the pot was a bit bigger.
A year and a half or so after that and things were a little different, the excellent venue we were at previously (RvB, R.I.P.) was gone, some personal problems around the site/community arose and my spirits weren’t quite as high as they once were. Lenny was holding down the fort, although I helped out wherever possible. After a while Lenny couldn’t devote as much time to running things up in Auckland and so some other people got involved to help out/take over. This is where I personally lost touch, because they obviously could have meetings in person and nut details out, but I couldn’t possibly attend.
I didn’t really handle that very well. I put a lot of myself into NZism over the years, and losing control of the direction it was taking was very hard for me. Several reasonably fundamental differences in approach were implemented that didn’t sit with my vision of the site and community, and there wasn’t really much I could do about it other than pitch my opinion in, which was generally worded poorly due to my reaction to the position I was in. Suffice to say it didn’t improve things, which kind of made me resent the situation even more. It got to the point where I even felt the need to make an alternate account so that random new people didn’t the the idea that the admin was just some grumpy hater that argued with everyone. Switching accounts like that helped a good deal.
What most of you won’t know is that I had planned to considerably overhaul the website for about a year by this point, however it all hinged on getting an updated logo. This turned out to be a much bigger task than I thought possible, considering the number of artists and graphic designers in the community. After roughly a year and a half I had 4 concepts, but the art guys were busy so I couldn’t really get any further. I’m not blaming anyone here, but I feel that being unable to finalise the logo held the site back a great deal, as I was loathe to put much effort into the site when I was intending to change everything anyway.
Meanwhile, further disagreements were occurring between myself and the admin team, including about events sponsorship, which I had no part in and didn’t see the point of. The turning point of everything as I see it is when I made a post under my alternate account detailing a really good deal from a NZ online store, as a service to the users. I was told that as an admin, regardless of which account I was using, I was not to post anything about competitors to the sponsor. Note that the sponsor was never associated with the site itself, there was no sponsor advertising on the site, and no agreement by myself with the sponsor whatsoever. I saw this as an absolute affront, as lack of censorship was one of my guidelines for NZism, but by this time my influence was weak enough and there had been enough drama over the months that I decided to remove my own ability to even read the events admin forum and just leave them to it. It was that or become increasingly angry every time I read something due to feeling unable to speak my mind without causing yet another a crapstorm.
It’s pretty hard for a organisation/site team to continue in that fashion. Clearly something had to change.
next: the continued history, the future