As some of you may be aware, Xbox Tavern founder Mark recently took the decision to step away from the site, and enjoy life outside of running it. While the door will always be open to him to come back, naturally, those of us remaining here wanted to just say a few words in honour of the man that brought us all together.
I just wanted to talk a bit about our beginnings in so far as I remember them. I first met Mark Sherwood on the Xbox forums way back when the Xbox One first launched. Our game of choice was, back then, Forza Motorsport 5. There was a pretty sizeable crew of regulars that would all get together for some races. those were some really fun times. In party chat, during a race, I would hear this deviously maniacal laughter and then BOOM. The maniacal laughter became howls of murderous glee as our very own Mark Sherwood joyfully put myself and various others into the wall or flipping end over end down the race track. Of course I would seek my revenge. But he just revelled in the mayhem of the moment. And that’s how we became friends. Some time later he sends me a private message that he was starting a gaming website and if I’d take a look at an early build and tell him what I thought. I know nothing about building a website by the way. I guess he was more interested in my opinion of how easy it was to use and navigate. Anyway, after I gave him my opinions I told him if he needed help in anyway to let me know. I’m very particular when it comes to proofreading and thought I could look at reviews and articles and check for mistakes before they got posted. It was his idea for me to do some reviews. Honestly, I had never thought about writing but, I discovered, I was pretty good at it. Turns out I enjoy it. So aside from Anthony (Urbanfungus), I’ve been here at the Tavern since the beginning. I’m sad to see Mark go, but I understand why.
The Tavern was his baby. He put all he had into making sure everything was running smoothly. His biggest fault was that he would let us pick and choose what we wanted to review and largely him and Anthony handled all the other stuff nobody wanted. Burnout is real. God, this sounds like I’m writing an obituary. I just wanted to say thank you to Mark for giving me the opportunity and for believing in my ability more than I did. We will miss you. But I do hope after you take some time to yourself that you come back to us in some fashion. The door is always open at your Tavern, and the first drink will be on me. Cheers.
I was first introduced to Mark, and the Tavern, back toward the end of 2017. After my younger brother died, I was reacquainted with an old friend of ours; Urbanfungus himself, Anthony. While a pretty shit way to get back in touch, it did afford us the opportunity to keep in contact and, after a while, Ant approached me about contributing to the site. Though I had written for a site previously, in reality I had very little actual experience – despite always having a keen interest in doing so. We’d also spent many hours in our youth together playing games, so he had some idea of just how in to the hobby I am!
After submitting an example review (of the brilliant RE7), I fully expected to receive a thanks-but-no-thanks response. However, as you may be able to tell, that wasn’t the case. A warm, positive response (with some helpful pointers) was instead put to me from Mark. Shortly after, I had my first actual game to give my critical opinion on. In the months and years that followed, I found a love for critiquing games that, deep down, I’d always had. However, more than that, I gained a new friend for life. While we’ve yet to meet in person (counting down the days to October!), Mark not only trusted me with delivering content to his site; but, in the end, to run it in his absence. He has been nothing short (no pun intended…) of amazing when it came to all aspects of our relationship over the last 2 years, and I can’t thank him enough for giving me a chance here. I will do my utmost to continue the great work he started with the Tavern.
I still remember the day I took a gamble and sent an email to Xbox Tavern, asking if they needed any help as I wanted to get involved with Xbox on a new level, other then just playing the games. It was not long after entering a twitter competition to win a free game that this happened – and little did I know I’d be meeting some new, lifelong friends along the journey. The man that answered my email went by the name of Mark Sherwood, owner of the Tavern. “He seems like a happy chap” I thought when reading the reply. “We are looking for people to review games if you’re interested? Just do a mock review of a game you’re playing at the moment and send it through”. So, at the time the game I was playing most was Killing Floor 2, way before my Sea Of Thieves life. I sent my review in hoping for an answer, 1 day, 2 days, 3 days? On the Fourth day, I received a reply saying ‘”great review, you’re in”. When I joined, it was smaller group of about five. Anthony Cole co-founder of Xbox Tavern I meet next, followed by Joe and other Jamie – now owner of the Xbox Tavern as of late, and doing a smashing job. As I received my first game to review I kind of felt scared, I’d never done this before apart from the mock review, so I had to brush up on my spelling and writing skills as I went along, but with the support of the team it was smooth sailing.
Now nearly three years later I’d like to thank Mark, most of all for giving me the opportunity and taking a risk with me. We both used to chat about the horror genre a lot. Is it fazing out? What can be done to change it, though lately I’ve seen some good titles, so maybe someone actually heard our rants since then lol. Maybe it was his high pitch squeal or his insane fear of bin chickens which made us laugh but this man is funny, and can talk too; its gonna be hard filling that gap in the podcast, that’s for damn sure.
So farewell,good sir, You’ve been an inspiration to me and us all. Thanks for teaching me so much. Thank you for making Xbox Tavern. Cheers Buddy!
So, the founder and creator has left, and has left a large hole to fill. Mark was – and is – one solid reason why the Tavern has done so well so far. The hours and energy he has put into this project was outstanding. If you know what it takes to build a site – with all the code and work that entails – you will know that its no quick thing. Add to that editing all the members reviews and posting constant news on social media, this guy was 110%.
Not long into a year of the Tavern, when there was only around four people, Mark had asked me to become co-owner with him. Now, how can you say no to this opportunity? Over the years Mark and I have shaped the look of the site, until we were happy with the current layout. We also have a bunch of great guys and gal that really put effort in to making the Tavern great. We don’t earn any money from anyone or anything, – this is all done because we love playing games – we all bleed Green for the site! This is all because some northern, semi-balding bloke named Mark, so to him I say; thanks for giving me the time of day all them years ago with my first review (Dying Light),and then on to greater things. I am sure to not be alone when I say we will all miss you Mark; now go forth, and play catch up on all the games you missed.
Beginning a career in writing is terrifying. You’re reliant on opportunities from editors that are willing to take a chance, clutching at your virtual portfolio and worrying if it’s good enough to share.
I emailed Mark totally out of the blue hoping to be able to write for Xbox Tavern, and was lucky enough to be met with sincere kindness, positivity, and support from a man I’d never spoken to before.
In the months following, I was able to contribute some of my best work to the site, and when my son was born earlier this year Mark was one of the first to congratulate my partner and I – even with his busy schedule.
Nothing was ever too much trouble, and I’ll miss his voice messages keeping us all in the loop. I’m thankful we’ll remain friends, and I hope we’ll see him in the Tavern again someday! Cheers!