What’s so special about August 21? For some of you, it could be a birthday; if so, happy birthday to you. The vast majority of you guys, though, this day is relatively ordinary. For me, August 21 was the first day that Gamer Professionals went live and became a gaming publication.

Looking Back at the Year

Since opening my doors as a website, my goal at first was to consider Gamer Professionals the publication for games media coverage where the professional industry and the gaming media come together. I, as you might know (or not!), am studying at the moment to become a Doctor of Pharmacy over at the University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m a Southern California native, through and through, though. The idea came about after a long time planning it, and since then, many people have identified with the idea.

A lot of writers have since then come and gone through these doors. There’ve been some good times, some truly great times, and then there have been some rough times where the future of the publication looked highly uncertain. In this past year, what remained true and steadfast was our dedication to try and become a great publication, by focusing on reviews and opinion-editorials that took a look at the games industry from an analytical standpoint. That ended up becoming the tagline for my site. It went from a collision between professionals and games media, to being the place where I attempt to diversify the opinions in games media, by bringing on writers who identified with the goal, and served in the professional fields outside of the media: healthcare, creative arts, engineering, music, the social sciences.

I’m very selective in my hiring application processes: I value not the experience, but the enthusiasm that writers can show. It doesn’t matter if they make mistakes. Those are fixable. What isn’t rapidly adjustable, and takes an incredibly long time to foster, is the enthusiasm to cover this industry. There’s a lot of topics to cover, and I want to give my staff the opportunity to cover the topics they want to right now, while things are slow.

“Brandon, You’re Just a Niche Blog With Little Traffic”

What happens if I told you, right here, that I didn’t really mind about the traffic going into the site? I care more about finding, creating, and cultivating an audience of influencers. I want to get people to think about the industry at large, and from a very different angle — from the mindset of an analytical chemist (I actually do own a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry). The traffic will come and go, and there are definitely cycles where traffic will peak and trough. I understand that, and at this point, we’re fighting a losing battle to go against that. If people want to read something, they definitely will be able to on our site. While we haven’t blown up yet on KotakuIGN, or any of those giants, I’m certain that one day, we’re going to get something that’s going to balloon out of our control. That logic in mind, though, I don’t mind staying in the middle tier plateau. I can bide my time here, but rest assured: I’m always up to something. Everyone on the team knows that. While I may personally be quiet on the public front, I’m always in the background doing things.

So What’s Next for Gamer Professionals?

Just this past year alone, we’ve seen incredible strides. We brought staff to some of the largest conventions in the gaming industry: the Game Developer’s Conference, Electronic Entertainment Expo, Anime Expo, Evolution Championship Series, San Diego Comic Con, Consumer Electronics Show, and have continually covered the industry throughout the year. We’ve recently become Contributor partners to the up-and-coming review aggregator, Open Critic.

That begs the question for next year: what’s next at Gamer Professionals? Next year, I want this publication to be able to sustain itself with income that generates from personal sponsorships (mainly) and ad revenue (extremely variable), rather than relying on the burning out of my savings account or checking funds. I want to get off of shared website hosting and move to a dedicated server on Rackspace. Graduate school, for reference, is expensive — I observed a small ZIP code tuition to begin my first semester of pharmacy school. I’ve admittedly had to scale down my operational capacity on the site somewhat due to a number of issues and demands of the curriculum, with the full support of the Gamer Professionals team that I’ve fostered. This next year, though, I want to be able to look into other outlets of coverage: podcasts, maybe bring back the YouTube channel from the dead, and get funded a bit more on Patreon.

Three to five years down the line, Gamer Professionals should not be the only site on the network. I want to expand into other fields and make separate sites and teams for that: technology, popular culture, science (maybe!), and other fields of high interest. Why? It really is the best time ever to cover these types of things. There’s so much to type about, and everyone can have an opinion. It takes a bit more time, though, to be able to put that opinion on paper.

The Thanks Go to Each and Every One Of You

I hate throwing numbers like this out there, but over the past year, we’ve been visited over two million times by people, with over a half million unique monthly viewers spread out. I couldn’t be more humbled by the response and enthusiasm people have for the site. For my friends and faculty at University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences, thank you all for your support and words of encouragement as I start out my pharmacy career. My family is a huge part of this, and I wouldn’t be here without them, either. The biggest thanks of all, though, goes to everyone here who continues to visit Gamer Professionals on a daily basis or even reads our stuff at all. So long as the traffic ticker does not become zero, Gamer Professionals will continue to exist, and we want to continue to deliver content to you that makes you think. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for a wonderful year, and I look forward to what the future brings for each and every one of us.

Brandon Bui, Chief Editor