Look up the letters "TUS" in Google, and the first result you will see is for Metal Gear Solid: The Unofficial Site; yet perhaps not for long, since the website is now defunct. 404'd and apparently gone for good. Now we reflect on what made it special, and what its demise tells us about the state of the series.
Many Internet Years ago, between the time of MGS2 and 3, TUS was launched by a handful of Metal Gear fans who saw it as an opportunity to unite the vast Metal Gear fanbase under a single glorious banner: The. Unofficial. Site. Operating out of pocket and without a plan, this gang of amateur coders, designers and reporters began to build a framework that would come to house some of the most dedicated and loyal followers such a website could ask for. However, what bonded them together, essentially, was not a love for the series, but a vision of a worldwide following of their own; a place where the lost and huddled Metal Gear masses could live.
That was the vision. But what inevitably followed was something less than that, and with it, the age-old struggle to live up to something impossible.
TUS not only prided itself on reporting news, but also on providing reliable information about the series, as well as game resources, opinion articles and — most importantly — a forum. Here is where the real magic happened, and where the drama of TUS became legendary. Thanks to an overriding belief that the website was a sacred cow, every friendship and conflict was considered a serious matter by TUS zealots. The website was not simply "another forum" to be taken lightly, but a representative of the Metal Gear series and Kojima himself; thus, the community was naturally divided into a hierarchy, with true believers at the top and casual fans at the bottom. Those who supervised and moderated the forums considered it to not only be a privelege, but their sacred duty. This mentality was responsible for both the highlights and ridiculousness of the entire website.
Duty to the website was the driving factor behind the many projects that the TUS "staff" attempted, from its contests to its podcasts, but it was also what fuelled the petty power struggle behind the scenes and on the forums themselves. Motivation to keep producing content and keeping the site running smoothly turned quickly into feelings of entitlement; a feeling that would be countered by the high expectations of its average visitors. Those who put in work wanted to receive their fair share of praise, but the average member saw it as only a basic obligation; after all, how can you call yourself "The Unofficial Site" if you don't have a full range of features? It was nothing beyond the call of duty.
Those who did not conform to the expectations of the zealots were ostracized, while sycophants and
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