IGN recently announced that it would be closing several of its smaller sites on Friday, amongst them being TeamXbox, one of the first tentpoles for the Xbox community. To understand our relationship to TeamXbox and its forums (which will remain open for the time being) is to understand how FleshEatingZipper came into being. Our editors chip in their thoughts on its closure after twelve years of operation and millions of wonderful memories.
Johnny – TeamXbox handle: Johnny
Before the TeamXbox forums existed, they were the MSXbox forums, which I joined in 2001. At the time, the MSXbox forums were the best place I’d found on the internet for information (and disinformation) about Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox console. Eventually, the MSXbox forum got folded into TeamXbox and the new site grew in popularity in tandem with Xbox’s popularity.
For the next few years, I hung out in TeamXbox’s General Xbox Discussion forum and the Other Console Talk forum, where I wasted an absurd amount of time debating with other fanboys about the Xbox. Eventually, I stumbled into the Off-Topic Lounge and I never looked back. The OTL forum was full of crazy and hilarious characters posting random stuff from all over the world. I read and participated in some of the weirdest and funniest threads I’d ever seen, from a wacky kid named Snapple threatening to curse us with black magic over the internet to an obnoxious poster being outed as a Nazi to virtual wars waged between the OTL and its bitter rival the GXD. We celebrated birthdays and holidays together, we saw members get married and have kids, were were there as members gained and lost jobs, girlfriends and their minds. We discussed current events, fought about politics like rabid dogs and even did a gift exchange over Christmas. If there was a breaking story, chances were good that I would hear about it first in TeamXbox’s Off-Topic Lounge.
I was privileged to be part of the forum’s “Oties,” a yearly awards ceremony created by poster Loc Nar of the best and worst the forum had to offer. The members wrote a movie script together, orchestrated a fake viral campaign against the internet and wasted an enormous amount of time talking about nothing in the Random Thoughts Thread. And some time in 2007, we started the Off Topic Podcast, which went through several permutations before eventually becoming the FleshEatingZipper Podcast. I made friends in the OTL and even went into business with a few of them when we started FleshEatingZipper.
Though the TeamXbox site has dwindled since Shockwave’s forced departure two years ago, the OTL forum cultivated a sense of community that endures. I’m sad to see it go. Many of the OTL forum members have moved on to other forums, or – like me – have simply stopped posting in forums. The TeamXbox forum is supposed to be left open, though for how long is anybody’s guess. Whatever becomes of the TeamXbox OTL forum, I have nothing but fond memories of the place.
Keith – TeamXbox handle: OOC/InventoryScreen
TeamXbox was my first gaming community to call home. I had purchased the original Xbox with money earned from my first job and needed some friends for LIVE games (I beta tested that shit!) I ended up registering for the forums under OuT_oF_cOnTrOl on March 15th, 2002. And it all went down hill from there. What began as information searching in the General Xbox Discussion eventually became a social expedition in the Off Topic Lounge.
TXB’s mainsite was an organized mess. The articles posted were either dry press releases or uninspired reviews/previews. Hell, that’s the reason why the majority of members would get gaming news from the forums! And because of that, the community drove TeamXbox to success. The Off Topic Lounge, a sub forum for randomness and shenanigans, was like visiting a virtual version of “Cheers” – everyone knew your name. Once IGN had purchased TXB, I knew it was only a matter of time before the roof would collapse. So, like many, I left TXB in search of another community.
Still to this day, I have not found a website with an intimate community comparable to TeamXbox’s. That’s one of the reasons why I was attracted to FleshEatingZipper. It was started by “TXBers” who were looking for the same thing. Instead of waiting for this magical gaming forum/website to appear, they decided to take the reigns themselves to create something better than TXB – a snarky entertainment hub that isn’t afraid to say what everyone else is thinking. I have faith that FleshEatingZipper will be the new home for those lost TXB souls floating around in cyberspace. It’s only a matter of time.
N – TeamXbox handle: TFX
I wanted to tell LucasArts how much they sucked.
I was a regular at Newgrounds in July 2001 and with the upcoming console war close at hand, I wanted to arm up on potentially critical technical miniutiae so I could squash all those PS2 fanboys who just wouldn’t let up on the Bill Gates ‘box. I landed at MSXbox first, where I read lengthy essays about how the Xbox worked (and helping me understand much of how a computer operates) versus the competition.
So anyway, I wanted to tell LucasArts how much they sucked. I found my way over to TeamXbox where I read they were going to have an interview with Jack Sorenson, who had been the lead guy over there from their golden era through their prequel trilogy decline. Of course, to do that, I had to register for the comments, which also served as the forum login. My first post? Wondering if the console would have a VGA adapter so I could use a computer monitor instead of a TV, since I didn’t own a TV. (Solution: I bought a TV.)
I spent the first year there exclusively in the console forums where we fought pixel for pixel, polygon for polygon, exclusive for exclusive. Microsoft was new to this scene and I didn’t just want them to win, I wanted them to destroy. I didn’t discover the random-ass Off-Topic Lounge until I found out they were modding people who hung out there. My course of action was set and by the end of 2002, I became a plucky young mod along with fellow poster, the famous Amish Ninja.
I garnered a pretty crappy reputation over the years with habits started early on. I was mean as hell. If I saw you made a thread about a Perfect Dark Zero review when we already had one stickied, you received the bad end of the moderation stick. I banned a guy named Bob Vila. I banned seven or eight people in one day. I had each sub-forum open in its own browser window for the first month so I could instantly demolish wrong-doers. But I made a lot of friends along the way, too. As an admin, I like to think that I helped make the forums a better place that everyone could access. I think it worked.
The long decline began when IGN acquired the site. Sure it was cool that the site staff got paid and all the front page glory while we continued to volunteer on the forums for a free ktchotcke every other year. But it was worth it. The TeamXbox forums were home. A deep divide existed between the main page content and the forums and over the years and little could be done to mend those fences. We were simply in different worlds. Slowly, but surely, IGN simply began to give less and less of a fuck about the site.
Behind the scenes, I pushed for some crazy stuff, like getting our avatar sizes increased, glorifying and sabotaging our rep system, or merging forums that had little traffic. Posters think I pissed them off, but the fire I received behind the scenes couldn’t compare. When Brent left, it was an easy to decision to leave it all behind because eventually we’d end up something successful. Many of us in the forums wanted to write content for the TeamXbox site and simply weren’t able to (the podcast being one of those efforts, being an unofficial broadcast of the forums), so being able to have our own site to do just that is the fulfillment of a dream.
I haven’t posted regularly in years, but it doesn’t make the feeling any better. Like many thousands of others, TeamXbox was my one and only home page for years. It was the place I met people like Johnny, Rob, Keith, Russell, and scores of others. Some days I’d just sit there and refresh the page, or bat between the forums just hoping something new would appear. I learned art, design, screenwriting, and movie critique there. I learned to love Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ladytron, and Nine Inch Nails. It shaped a lot of who I am in a community of people who had similar interests.
It’s not gone yet, but I already miss it.
Rob – TeamXbox handle: Terraphon
I started going to TXB when I was looking for reviews on 360 titles. Before I bought my 360, I wanted to make sure that the games which were being released for it were getting good review scores; I didn’t want to drop $400 on a flop, ya know?
So after doing some looking around on the net for review and news sites, I found TXB and went to check them out. At first it was just their news stories and articles but it wasn’t too long before I ventured into “The GXD” or General Xbox Discussion forum which is just about the most terrifying place on the planet…A discussion forum filled with fanboys who are so rabid in their belief that the game they like is the best game in the world or the TV they own can kick your TV’s ass, that simply breathing could get you attacked and flamed into the middle of February, 2106.
Eventually I found the OTL and that’s where I made my home. Back then the place was filled with a lot of cool people and we used to discuss just about anything you can imagine, from politics to guns to hot chicks, between matches of Gears or COD. This is where I met people like Sean Martella – “Aiel” – a wicked good gamer and all around awesome dude who, rest his soul, brought many of us close together. The OTL is also where I met this bunch of freaks I work with now…Well, everyone but Kelly. He was too cool to hang out in a forum (and by cool I mean they would have smote him).
When the announcement came that Brent Soboleski – “Shockwave” – had been ousted by IGN, that was it. We jumped ship and called it a day. From there, the rest is history.
Russell – TeamXbox handle: RRJ
Over ten years. Roughly one-third of my existence. That’s how long TeamXbox has been part of my life. I was a 16 year old kid when I first stumbled across TeamXbox forums. I had been religiously following the release of the then-new Xbox and its games on the IGN forums around the time the greedy bastards decided to start charging for forum membership. Like many other cheapskates, I jumped ship, and the forums of Teamxbox were waiting for us with open arms.
I spent several years simply commenting in Teamxbox’s General Xbox Discussion forum, where I met several interesting people but mostly stood witness to mind-boggling stupidity. However, I eventually shifted my attention over to the forum’s Off Topic Lounge, where I first met N, Johnny, and a host of others. My hobbies eventually began to shift away from gaming, but that didn’t mean I had to abandon the site. Many forum users held no interest in games and simply spent time in the Off Topic Lounge shooting the shit about everything from politics to ex-girlfriends. During my time as a member of the site’s community, I had the opportunity form friendships with an eclectic bunch of interesting people. As time passed, we all sort of grew up together. People came and went. Some married and started families; some graduated school; some obtained and lost jobs; some, unfortunately, passed away.
And, well, here we are. I’m 27 now. In the time since I first registered at TeamXbox I’ve graduated from high school, college, and law school and now I’ve joined the ranks of the full-time employed. Through all of that the little community at TeamXbox remained consistent. TeamXbox was always there…and now it isn’t.
I’m not going to lie and say that TeamXbox was a huge part of my life. There were entire years during the site’s decade of existence where I never so much glanced at it. But it was always nice to know that whatever happened in the real world, I could always retreat to the off-beat, eccentric little corner of the internet known as the OTL and expect find the same group of people.
I met several great people at the site, and if it wasn’t for TeamXbox, I wouldn’t be here at FleshEatingZipper. I understand that the forums will continue to remain open for an indefinite period of time, but I’m still saddened to learn that the site that has supported that little community for the past ten years has now ceased to operate.