If you listen to video game podcasts, chances are you've heard Garnett Lee's voice in your ear. He's been at it longer than nearly all of us, dating back to the deliciously offbeat 1UP Show, which began an eon ago in 2005. Taking over as host of 1UP's flagship podcast in 2006, he began a 205-episode trek (164 1UP Yours and 41 Listen Up shows) that served as a weekly dose of entertaining - sometime raucous and occasionally inebriated - conversation about games.
Steering through a thicket of personnel departures, layoffs, and the Ziff Davis / Hearst / UGO corporate shuffle, Garnett was the steady hand that held the show together and maintained a semblance of order within each episode. An apparently ego-free host, he was often the butt of jokes and the target of his own self-derision, but one vital thing about Garnett Lee shined through every show. The man loves games, and his passion and joy playing them have never diminished. Pull Garnett's string on a racing game, then sit back and watch him fly. It's a beautiful thing.
I suppose some readers may find my affection and admiration for Garnett Lee a little surprising. My own modest podcast shares little in common with the 1UP shows, and I go about my business here very differently than the gang of journos at the 1UP Network. I'm guessing we target different audiences, but maybe not. I don't know.
But I've always felt a certain kinship with Garnett. We're both guys in our 40s who often find ourselves locked in vigorous and thoughtful conversation with smart-ass kids half our age. We both recall the arcade era as a teenage memory, a social part of our lives growing up in rural America.
But more than anything else, we've both watched games grow up, and we just can't wipe that stupid grin off our faces. By the time you hit 40, you're either a cynical bastard or a hopeless idealist. When you listen to Garnett gleefully describing the 5 minutes he spent playing a game at E3, and the very real possibility that this game could be AWESOME, you know the path he's chosen.
Garnett is leaving 1UP to join GameFly as its editorial director for media properties. He will also oversee GameFly's recently acquired sites, including Shacknews. I wish him all the best, and I thank him for his genial companionship through all the miles in my car between here and everywhere. He says he'll start a new podcast, and that makes me happy. I'll keep listening.