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PixlBit: A Retrospective

With the 2.0 redesign upon us, Nick has a chance to look back on the beginnings of the site and just how far we have come.

It’s hard to believe, but PixlBit has been around for almost two years at this point. Having just released the second version of the site, I can’t help but get nostalgic and look back on our beginnings and just how far we’ve come.

E3 2009 had come and gone, providing Chessa and I the experience of a lifetime. At the time, we were writing for Nintendo World Report and I had occupied the role of PR Managing Editor for a reasonable amount of time. This role gave me the opportunity to interface with the PR representatives of gaming companies across the industry and to rebuild NWR’s image with these individuals. The culmination of my hard work was an unbelievable E3 that was packed to the absolute brim with activities.

On top of that, we finally had the opportunity to meet a bunch of people that we had been working with for well over a year at that point. It was exciting and fun, and really made the entire experience feel more real than it ever had before. After returning home, both Chessa and I had our spirits renewed for video game journalism.

Later that summer, we took a trip to a cabin out in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia for a week of R&R and absolute serenity. While there, we talked quite a bit about what our future would be and just what we wanted to accomplish before having children. I had always wanted to start a business and with the exposure we had gotten from E3 and the contacts I had forged, it seemed that making a video game site would be something we could do.

Needless to say, upon returning home from our trip, we started to put our plan in motion. We started with the task of trying to pick a name. How do you pick a name that has some sort of catchiness to it? Do you incorporate the word “game” in there somewhere? Maybe a reference to something in gaming? It’s hard to say what makes a name great.

After nights of random guessing, we eventually just settled on something that would work. Pixel Bit. Two words that are tangentially related to gaming, that together, function as something kind of catchy sounding. The bad news was that the domain was taken.

This was somewhat disheartening, but we decided that the word “pixel” wouldn’t be changed in sound if we just dropped the “e.” Thus we settled on PixlBit, which also shortened the title and gave it a bit of visual flair.

From here, Chessa and I split our once combined efforts to focus on different tasks. She would handle creating a logo, filing all of the business paperwork, opening the bank accounts, and doing any other necessary administrative work, while I would secure hosting, learn how to set up a Linux environment, and begin programming the actual site’s code. Both of our hands were pretty full.

At this point, we clued in Neal Ronaghan and Lauren Lewandoski of NWR of our plans (we really hit it off well at E3) and asked if they wanted to join our business venture. They agreed, and set off on helping forge PR relations and preparing launch content.

Before long, things started coming together, and we had ourselves a website in a matter of weeks. PR support was still being built, but thanks to my numerous relations, filling out the ranks wasn’t far off. We launched officially on September 24, 2009, and saw a pretty healthy turnout thanks to our involvement with NWR.

Things were a bit rocky thereafter thanks to some long hours and adjustments to the new lifestyle wherein we wrote to make a business rather than for enthusiast reasons. Due to creative disagreements, Neal and Lauren decided to return to their posts at NWR; meanwhile, Chessa and I forged onward with this business venture we had started a month earlier.

Down two members, after another month or two of toiling, it was clear that PixlBit wasn’t going to work as a business. We eventually opened the doors to new writers and were graced with an application from Jason Ross.

Jason had followed us from NWR and remained an avid fan of PixlBit. Shortly after getting involved, Jason proved himself to be invaluable to the PixlBit team. E3 2010 was rapidly approaching and excitement was building once again. Same as last year, we were afforded the opportunity to meet some new people in person, particularly Jason and his recently hired roommate, Chris Mabrey.

The two came down to our place, and as a team, along with contributor, Jason Hillhouse, we set out for our first E3 as PixlBit. The experience was once again exciting and fun, providing the opportunity to bond together as a team. Our time at E3 provided for some of the best visitation in site history and our coverage of the show was staggering thanks to the combined efforts of the team.

After E3, PixlBit’s one-year anniversary came and went. Jason and Chris rejoined Chessa and I at our home and we had a birthday bash with a live streaming PlayBit filled with import games along with some oddball picks like Superman 64.

Before long, we were filling the ranks with more and more writers in an attempt to bolster coverage and further specialize the site’s content to our unique, niche audience.

Since then we’ve seen the likes of Kathrine Theidy, Stanton Daries, Nate Hascup, Matt R, Kyle Charizanis, Joaquim Mira, Bradley Osburn, Chuck Jose, and JD Lewis join the team. With such a wide variety of personalities and the introduction of PixlBit 2.0, we’re poised to bring more original content than ever before in a much more appealing format than before.

While PixlBit has changed from business to enthusiast, all the while we’ve pushed to always deliver the best content possible with as little bias and as much opinion as possible. Though we don’t have a large scale following, we hope that over time we can grow our user base and spread our message to anyone willing to hear it.

Of course, without the support of our readers, we’d be nothing today. A big thanks goes out to everyone who has supported us from the beginning and continues to support us today. We write for you and we hope that our writing has inspired, helped, or informed you in some way.

While today brings PixlBit 2.0, the future holds promise far bigger than a simple site redesign. Stick around, enjoy the content, speak your mind, and hopefully we’ll be seeing you for our next big milestone!



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