Wow. It sure has been a wild ride. It’s hard to believe that, ten years ago today, a young man named Lars sat down at his computer and decided that there weren’t enough good guides for Ocarina of Time online, and so made his own. To say that Zelda Universe has spawned a community of Zelda fans beyond any of our wildest dreams would be the greatest understatement ever made – Zelda Universe started a Zelda fansite revolution that continues to this day.
We’re remarkably proud of everything we’ve accomplished in the last year of our existence, but I think this is the time to reflect on everything we’ve done – from the beginning – and to celebrate the fact that we’ve made it this far.
(We know it’s also the anniversary of Zelda as well – we’ll get to that! We promise! Coolest double anniversary ever.)
For those unfamiliar, Zelda Universe was founded in 2001 by a man named Lars Christian-Simonsen, who still lurks around the joint from time to time. Lars had a knack for building websites (well, perhaps not back then), and he learned how to grow a community. In 2003, he opened up the Zelda Universe Forums, and the rest is history. At a certain point – and I still see this as one of the coolest developments in Zelda Universe’s history – Nintendo’s official Zelda site decided to steal our name and call themselves “Zelda Universe”. Imitation is flattery, right?
It’s almost remarkable that Zelda Universe has survived this long, given how many people have owned or run the site since Lars’s departure in 2005. Needing money for college, he sold the site to a wealthy website “farmer”, relinquishing his power over the staff and setting his sights on his own future. The site has changed hands several times since then, at many points almost demoralizing the staff and community, eventually ending up in the hands of yours truly.
Since I’m not Lars, I can only really comment on the last seven years – though I’m sure we’ll end up hearing a ton of testimonials from members who’ve been around even longer than I have (crazy, huh?). I’ve worked with endless amounts of staff, and all but a fair few have been spectacular in all their work. I’ve never met or worked with better teams of people who love the series more.
I am blessed to have such dedicated staff members, and the awesome partner-in-crime that is Cody Davies. My past partner, Scott Smallback, was webmaster with me back during our crazy revamp of 2008. Although he’s no longer officially working on the site, him and I still work on side projects together. I suppose ZU just has a knack for bringing people of a common interest together. We all have always loved Zelda, but our interests always seem to overlap on a much deeper level.
Zelda Universe has always been the odd man out in terms of online communities. I’ve never seen another place where people can form real bonds with one another – our members have been holding meetups for as long as I can remember. This always astounded me, because on a personal level I’m usually afraid of meeting someone I’ve met over the internet – on a message board no less – but I’ve met with a ton of people from this place and never once have they been anything less than what they said they were.
Of course, the real meat of ZU has always been its guides – the legacy that Lars left behind. Many of Lars’s original guides have since been totally rewritten since the revamp of 2008 – a real turning point for ZU where we combined the efforts of the entire community and all 50+ staff members in our arsenal to recreate Zelda Universe and rewrite its guides which, at the time, were starting to seem a little dated.
The community donated over $2000 dollars so that we could have the amazing layout everyone now gets to take for granted every day. I’m still shocked that we pulled it off – after ten months of hard work, we moved ZU to new backend software, rewrote all of its content, added new content, and created and coded the new layout. And we couldn’t have done it without the generosity of all of you who donated, and the hard-working staff members behind the scenes that did all the work. Two and a half years later, I still have to say thanks one last time for that incredible effort.
I think, though, the last year has been something really spectacular. We’ve gotten ourselves onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and the response has been phenomenal. We turned ourselves from a moderately active news site into the top Zelda news site around. And we’re figuring out newer ways to reach Zelda fans all the time. Between crazy events like covering the Chuggaaconroy copyright violation scandal and the announcements of Skyward Sword, the 3DS, and Ocarina of Time 3D, we think the last year has been the second-best year for Zelda in a while.
Why the second best? Well, this year is going to be the best. Two games, a new console… and some hidden surprises from ZU. Oh yes, we’ve got hidden surprises.
It only goes up from here. From myself and everybody on the ZU team, we heartily thank you for being a visitor to our site – and for coming for however long you’ve been coming. Trust us, we’re not going away anytime soon. And we’re stupidly proud of that and all the history we have under our belt. Long live ZU!