I’ve been connected to the internet masses in one form of another for so long now, it’s hard to remember just how far back it goes. The beginnings of this website stems from a simple idea hatched many years ago, but to get the whole store, we need to travel back even further.
It all started back in 2006. I was playing the MMORPG Eve-Online when I was browsing the forums and such for just general information when I stumbled upon Eve-Radio. An internet radio station made specifically for Eve players. I tuned in and became hooked. Throughout the next few months, I heard all kinds of different types of music, took part in the Eve related contests and generally found that it enhanced my gaming experience within Eve. At one point I heard an advert on the station about becoming a DJ. I gave it thought, looked over my music collection and decided to give it a go.
Eve-Radio was run by a few people, one of which was always in the background of the station, named Diaego. He took care of all the back end stuff. The main station manager at the time was Mr. Blades. The best way to describe him was brash, ignorant and rude, but he also had one of the most listened to shows on the station. His carefree attitude and coarse language garnered a high rating with the listeners, and you couldn’t help but listen in. Anyway, back to the how it started. To join the station as a staff member, you needed to pass a 2 hr audition, proving you are capable of streaming music, comfortable talking on a microphone, and just generally able to handle the nuances of broadcasting. As nervous as I was, I seemed to take it in stride and joined the ranks at Eve-Radio. My DJ name was HIJAK (Pronounced high jack). My first show came upon me quite fast. I had titled it “The Early Morning Buzz Show“, mostly named for the time-slot of the show’s airing (early AM in the UK). Since Eve-Radio was based in the UK it seemed fitting. My genre of choice was generally everything, and I started to build a fan base for my choice of music. I had developed 2 quirky little games to play with the listeners that enabled them to donate ISK (in game currency) and win a much larger pot of said ISK. The more popular of these was “The Royal Flush” in which people donated ISK, and I assigned them a number. As I randomly drew the numbers I drew cards from a deck of normal playing cards. If they drew a face card they won that round, or were eliminated. As each round progressed there were fewer players, eventually leading to 1 person winning. I ran this show and game for about 2 years. After a while policy change and another oppertuinity arose that saw me stepping down from Eve-Radio, and heading onto what would become something bigger, at least in theory.
A couple of Eve-Radio DJ’s decided that they were tired and fed up with some of the shit that was going on in the management side of Eve-Radio, and decided to branch out see about starting their own internet radio station. New Eden Radio (NER) was created and started hunting for new talent. I was one of the few popular Eve-Radio DJ’s asked to be a headliner, as well as maybe some lower management opportunities for the station. I accepted and transitioned over. After a few weeks of testing and figuring out the logistics of running an internet radio station NER went live. Keeping with the same DJ handle (Hijak) I created a new type of show focusing on a specific genre that I enjoyed listening to, and wanting to bring it to the masses. This show was called “The Ambient Adventures Show” and featured all chill-out, ambient and down tempo music. I enjoyed running this show a lot, but started to find it difficult since I had maintained my old Eve-Radio show time, early am UK, which meant a very late night in Canada. In the end I was forced to change my time slot and opted for an early morning on the weekend instead, which ended up being mid day UK time. This worked out well, and my show, and the station garnered a growing following.
At the time, the current owners and managers of NER had big plans to grow the station, and take it to the next level. More DJ’s were added to the roster, and plans were formed to start doing more things, like reviews and such to gain even more people listening to the station on a daily basis. The problem with this was, as staff were not paid, and this was totally voluntary, it was almost impossible to get any of the DJ’s to commit to doing more than their few hours a week for a show. Over time this frustrated the management team to the breaking point and NER shut down in 2011 after 2 years of operating.
After a few short months of being without the station or DJ-ing, I had begun to really miss doing the show. I missed the interaction with the listeners, and playing music in general. After some discussions with the original founders and owners of NER, I was handed over all intellectual property of NER and began setting it up again. One weekend in April 2011 I re-started NER again, focusing on what went wrong the last time and hoping to make it better. NER was going to start by broadcasting only on the weekends, and expand as we filled up the schedule. After gaining a few more DJ’s and staff, and learning how to run an automated broadcast system (The Jukebox), NER grew to a full 24/7/365 station once again. Running under my leadership I tried to make sure the flaws that killed it the first time were dealt with and handled. Expectations for volunteer experience were kept to a minimum and we went ahead. After almost 2 years of smooth sailing, I ran into some difficult times in my personal life, and I couldn’t continue to operate as the head manager for NER. I reluctantly handed over almost everything to a friend of mine at the time (Daggaroth) and stepped back to evaluate my life.
Things seemed to be as normal, but I found that there was one major flaw. While NER and Eve-Radio were both stations for Eve, Eve-Radio had a 4 or 5 year head start on gaining loyal listeners, and was always light years ahead. NER had gained a small consistent following, but it wasn’t really growing to where we could feel it was successful. I felt that the station needed to expand outside of Eve, and focus on gaming in general, gaining the following of any gamer out there in the internet. The potential was there, the possibilities were endless, and the chance to grow and possibly become a monetized business was there. All we needed was the direction and drive to take it that one step further. A few discussions were held between myself and Daggaroth, and he seemed to be on board with the idea, but that’s where history repeated itself. While all people working for NER were volunteers, never getting paid, no one would ever step up and do anything more than their required minimum amount of effort. This problem stemmed right from the top, and lead down the entire totem pole.
It was at this time that I decided to walk away. Maybe changes in my personal life altered my views of NER, but in any case I walked away and left it to do whatever it wanted.
The Birth of Something Beautiful
Game-Refraction was an idea, that formed over a period of a few weeks. I was consistently getting press/media emails from past trips to PaxPrime as a member of NER. When attending PaxPrime, NER would setup press interviews with different game developers and we would record them for later use on the station. The first time we went was in 2009, 2010 it was great, and we gained a lot of attention doing live broadcasts from the convention. The press emails flowed plentiful afterwards, but as mentioned in the previous paragraph, they always ended up in the trash.
I began to think about what to do with these emails I kept getting while I was still a part of NER. I wanted to start having them posted to the website, as a sort of gaming news feature that could bring more people to the website, which in turn could drive up listening traffic on the station. The management team of NER did like this idea, however, they didn’t do anything with it. So I began discussing it with Tali (my girlfriend), about possible idea’s on what to do with it. It wasn’t until after PaxPrime 2014 that we decided to branch out and start what today is this website. Having joined me and Daggaroth at PaxPrime 2014, she saw how things were run, and how badly things were with NER. Tali, being a gamer herself and knowing how important the gaming news is. We worked together to put idea’s on paper on how things would work with the website. While not having a lot of money to fund the website, we did things slowly, and built it from the ground up starting with a written business proposal that we sent to Daggaroth and the NER team to work along side them. Again, the idea was liked, but not followed through and we decided to cut all ties with NER and do it on our own. Game-Refraction went live officially on Oct 21, 2014.
Since going live, Game-Refraction has had over 3 million hits, and averages over 6,000 a day. We have expanded to cover more Games, Anime and Movies, Hardware and VR. We have also started attending several other conventions outside of Pax West, like the Calgary and Edmonton Expos. I look back over the past year and a bit of Game-Refraction, and I can safely say I am proud of what we created.