Vox Hypes New Gaming Site With Documentary About Itself

In Ambitious Production, Staff Fears the Hype Around Its New Gaming Site

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First, online publisher Vox Media hyped its yet-to-be-launched video-game news site Polygon by introducing its name and logo at a gaming conference in the spring and boasting about how it has poached the best video-game journalists on the web. Now, it's trying to up the hype with a 90-minute documentary about, well, itself.

Beginning next week, Vox -- which also owns the sports blog network SB Nation and tech site The Verge -- will start rolling out the documentary called "Press Reset" every Wednesday in episodes that run roughly eight minutes each. There will be at least 10 episodes aired leading up to Polygon's launch, for a total of about 90 minutes of footage. Taken together, this is basically a feature-length film about Polygon building Polygon.

In an extended trailer above that Polygon cut for Ad Age , we see Editor-in-Chief Chris Grant talk about living up to the hype ("We need to make sure that we launch a really killer site that impresses people. That they see it and don't think, 'What took you so long?' or 'That's it?'"). We hear Managing Editor Justin McElroy wax poetic about banking on Polygon to give him some professional self-worth ("I worry that as trivial as most video games are ... I may be living a trivial existence"). And we watch as the camera follows another staffer as he drives his wife and baby on a move from Missouri to Washington, D.C., to begin this new chapter in his career. If this sounds a little too self-absorbed for you, Mr. Grant says the documentary will get beyond the personal stories to examine what it's like building a digital-media property in 2012 -- from the technology to the business operations behind the site.

Where does money for such a production come from? Vox Media has raised about $40 million in venture capital and the company has poured some of that venture money into an impressive video studio where it churns out high-quality video content for The Verge and for SB Nation's YouTube-funded video channel. But, in this instance, Microsoft is sponsoring the documentary to promote Internet Explorer.

Of course, journalists are notoriously uneasy about becoming interview subjects themselves. How did the Polygon staff feels about being on the other end of lines of questioning? According to Mr. Grant, the idea came from the business side of the operation.

"[We] were like, 'They want to sponsor a documentary series? Awesome," he said. "'But about us? Uh, interesting.'"

Polygon.com is expected to finally launch in the fall. Until then, the staff will continue to ramp up the publication of content at theverge.com/gaming.

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