UI alum starts gaming website


Bill Jones was undaunted by the souring economy when he and his friends split off from AMP, a music-review magazine, to start their own review site.

“I started talking to the editor-in-chief … about how long they could support a gaming section,” said Jones, who graduated from the UI in 2007. “Last month was literally the last month AMP was publishing a gaming section.”

So started the saga of his website Pads and Panels.

“We always talked about doing our own thing,” Jones said. “But we didn’t want to take on too much at once, so we focused in on comics and gaming.”

The site, which was launched last week, offers a variety of commentary for visitors. Video-game and comic reviews are the main deal, though viewers can register to comment on reviews and staff blog entries.

Jones’ team consists of mainly friends.

One staff writer, Kevin Haverty, met Jones through geographical happenstance — the two lived only a few blocks apart near Chicago.

“I’ve known him most of my life,” Haverty said. “We used to do a punk-music podcast that sort of included a lot of interests, and the site sort of stems from that experience.”

Jones has even involved his girlfriend, Sarah Kumley, in the project.

“He writes a lot of stuff, so he asks me to edit it,” she said. “I think it helps to gear the articles toward a more general audience. I’m not into gaming, so I think it helps to open the articles to people who are maybe just getting into gaming.”

When he was a UI student, Jones said, Associate Professor of journalism Don McLeese opened his eyes to the possibilities of writing reviews.

“He really taught me some new ways to think about reviewing,” Jones said. “I took a feature writing class, looked at doing longer more-detailed pieces, and I enjoyed it.”

After graduating from the UI, Jones went on to work for AMP. He mainly wrote music interviews and reviews until he was offered a gaming column, which he continued to write until the magazine scaled back to its original base of music.

“It has to do what it has to do to stay afloat,” Jones said. “But I had been doing gaming, and I didn’t want to just stop doing it. I still write for it; I still wind up with a pile of CDs on my desk to review.”

The break with AMP was amicable; the web version of the magazine links users to Jones’ Pads and Panels through the gaming section.

“[The AMP people are] trying to help us as much as they can,” Jones said. “We’ve always kicked around ideas of starting our own thing, but didn’t see it until AMP started scaling back.”

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