Earlier today, all of us here in the Retroware Family learned of the tragic passing of one of our friends, Justin Carmical. Our hearts and thoughts are all with his wife, Jennifer, and his entire family. There are no words we can say that would express how much we are thinking of them and of our lost friend. We have spent the day talking to each other, trying to wrap our minds and hearts around the news, somehow hoping it was all a cruel hoax or a dream. The people associated with this site have always joked about how we’re all are a “family” but today, while wiping away tears and fraught in disbelief, we really felt like we lost a brother. It’s hard to write anything like this considering it was something we never thought we’d have to do. In the days, weeks and months ahead, I am positive you will see more people here on this site and everywhere in this community of ours, share their thoughts and feelings about what Justin meant to them.
For some of us – fans or video makers alike – Justin was just a kind soul, an acquaintance, a person we’d like to meet, and for some of us, a true friend. Justin was at the very least, one of the kindest, most gracious and genuine people I have ever met. The shock of all of this is grounded in the fact that whenever I see Justin in my mind, I’m seeing the cheerful, considerate and smiling face looking back at my direction. He was always willing to jump in and help, always happy to sign an autograph, pose for a picture with admirers, and always eager to go the extra mile to help any of us in what we were working on.
For many of us here, the last we spent time with Justin was at MAGFest only a few weeks ago. He hosted one of the longest quiz-show panels ever at MAGFest, about three hours long, wrapping up at around 3am. When I later saw him in the hotel room, I asked him how he could possibly host something that long. He only responded with a smile, “It was fun!” Justin was magnificent on a stage. He could keep the crowd engaged and happy – really driving the mood of the room. When we asked him to be the play-by-play guy during the gaming challenges in the Retroware panel, he was just simply happy to do so. We counted on him and he was always great. The kind and authentic demeanor you can see in his videos was truly something you would see when he was standing in front of you. Almost every year, new people from our site meet others for the first time at MAGFest. James Ronald said today that what struck him when meeting Jew Wario for the first time was his really bright and shining personality and that he was as much of a delight to be with in person as it was to watch his videos online. Very rarely does someone have the presence to convey their passion as well as Justin did. These are thoughts that I’m positive many of us had once they got to know him, even if just a little. As I think of what James and others have said about Justin today and as we all wish we could have done something or could have said something to make this not happen, I’m looking at the pile of Famicom games I got from him at the festival this month. These games are now some of the most important things I’ll ever have in my collection.
In the days and weeks ahead, we here at Retroware will have more to say and we will do all we can to help support Justin’s family in the ways they need. It makes sense that those who have known him are anxious to do something as soon as possible. We know people have already started fundraisers and we will most definitely promote and organize to help in every way we can, but we just want to make sure we are supporting in the ways his family wants. We will also commit to doing a fundraiser and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention in the weeks or months ahead. It is an incredibly important issue and while we are only a small group, we have a big reason to care.
So bear with us for a little while. For now, all we can do is be sad, confused and in mourning for the loss of our buddy. We will miss you Justin. You will always be in this family.
Ongoing thoughts about Justin from people in the Retroware Family:
Jeremy Pierce: Justin Carmical is the biggest bro you could have ever hoped to meet. With all of the words floating around the Internet today, not a single one has come close to describing the man as anything less than wonderful. And the thing is, they are absolutely right. Justin was a pillar of positivity who brightened up the life of anyone fortunate enough to meet him. I was fortunate enough to have met him twice over my tenure here at Retroware, and the fact that I will no longer have any future opportunity to meet him again fills me with a profound sadness.
The first time I met Justin was at MAGfest 11 last year. I had just joined the site as a writer a few months before and was looking forward to finally meeting everybody else from the site for the first time. Of course, being the socially inept clod I am, I stumbled nearly every time I approached anyone from the site. At the time, I felt like I was just some snotty nobody who wrote dumb little articles, so who was I to be hanging out with these guys who I had been fans of for so many years? But Justin was different. Justin, from the moment you met him, gave off an electric aura of positivity and enthusiasm that you could not help but get swept up in.
The guy just had a way of making you feel welcomed in the way he spoke to you, like he did not look down on you in anyway or form. He gave the same attention and sincerity to a nervous fan as he did to a close colleague, and it was this aspect of his personality I most respected. I still remember the way the guy gave me the biggest hug after on the last day of the festival just to make sure I knew I was welcome on the site. If Retroware is a family, then Justin was the big brother you could always talk to because he was always willing to listen.
Which makes the memories of this past MAGfest all the more painful. The last time I saw him, Justin was the same old jovial chap I met the year prior, giving out handshakes and catgirl pins to anybody who wanted them. And now, three weeks afterwards, the world somehow feels like a colder place due to his absence. Retroware will not feel the same without good ol’ J-Dub. The Retroware family has lost its big brother and there is no way we could ever replace him. Good-bye, my friend.
Joey “Roo” DeSena: I’ve been struggling with this news – just struggling – since I heard it yesterday. It’s still insane to think that Justin is gone. Justin is the one person who I never would have guessed would leave us in this manner. You’ve likely heard and read the same thing over and over in the past day: Justin was the kindest, most genuine, and friendly guy you could ever hope to meet. He never had ANYTHING bad to say about anyone. People aren’t just saying this to avoid speaking ill of the dead – it’s 100% true. Hell, at conventions, when fans would come up to say hi, he wouldn’t just engage them in conversation – he would take photos with them for HIS personal collection! Seriously, who does that? I wish I could be half as charming and gracious as he was with the people who appreciated his work. His former colleague at TGWTG, Nash, truly said it best: We have lost the best of us.
I can’t remember the actual first moment I met Justin, but I do remember the first time I could call him a friend. It was during E3 2011, when Pat and I met up with him at this Japanese arcade in L.A., where he was just so excited to show off these great games he was familiar with to a couple of Western-centric gamers like us. Playing games and just getting to know him was one of the highlights of my trip. As I was about to be rushed off to LAX by Mark (“Psychotaku” – another great person and close friend of Justin’s), I got ready to shake hands with Justin and say goodbye… he just got that smirking look of disapproval on his face and said, “Friends hug.”
The next year, when he left TGWTG and joined up with Retroware, I found myself interacting with him more often. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have spent time with him at another E3, ConBravo, and 2 MAGfests – but I’m greedy for more. Life was brighter and more fun with him in it. But beyond that, he had a real impact on other people’s lives. He went out of his way to help people – many of which I know of but won’t detail here out of personal respect. But for me… I met my girlfriend because of him, and that’s made all the difference in my life. In my darkest times, I’ve had her there to help because of Justin, and I’ll always remember him and be thankful he was on this Earth.
I have nothing but sympathy for the wife he left behind, who not only was there when his life ended, but now must deal with the financial and psychological burden. One person below mentioned that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems, and that’s so incredibly poignant. I don’t think any of us will ever know what was going through Justin’s head in those last moments, but I have to believe that if he knew just how much this would affect so many people, he wouldn’t have done it. He wasn’t the kind of person who would purposefully cause such grief. If you’re suffering from depression, please please please know that you don’t have to be alone. Call anyone: a friend, family, or any of the many resources out there – one of many being the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (https://www.afsp.org). Don’t take the permanent solution.
But really, the last word should belong to Justin. And I can think of no video that better explains just who he was than the one below. Thank you for being, Justin. I hope we’ll meet again someday.
Michael Anthony: Like everyone else here from Retroware, I am shocked and deeply saddened at the loss of our dear friend, Justin. I feel so torn. Part of me still doesn’t want to believe he’s gone, while part of me wants to march up to where he lived and volunteer all my possible services to his wife and family at this very moment, because I think that’s what Justin would have done for me, or anyone else on the site.
I became a fan of Justin’s a few years after I moved to Colorado. I didn’t have a good group of gamers here yet and it was nice knowing that one of my favorite online personalities was local. I got up the courage to chat with him via twitter and we got along great. He offered to meet up so we could chat in person, and in I turn mailed him a cop of an import game dear to my heart. He liked that. He was always so grateful. When we both got on the site I was excited to have another connection to him.
I met him in person for the first time at MAGFest 12. I was nervous and shy because the writers had only recently started posting, but as soon as I introduced myself to Justin, he lit up and hugged me and I knew instantly that he was one of the most genuine people I had met. He made me feel I was welcome to voice myself at the con and I ended up enjoying the others’ company because of him. The last time I saw him was at MAGfest this year. I am truly glad I attended.
When I eventually did hang out with him in person with my other local Retroware contributor, Eric Lappe, we went to a local arcade bar in Denver. It was fun and everything, but one moment at the end of the night sticks out strong in my memory. We were all playing The Simpsons arcade game, but by the time we were at the final couple levels I had run out of quarters. I was starting to feel awkward when Justin nudged me and handed me a fistful to continue the game. I asked if it was ok and he just smiled and nodded saying we should beat the game together.
That’s the kind of person Justin was. He was sweet. Considerate. Generous. You never needed to worry about running out of quarters with Justin. He would help you reach any boss without question, and he would do it with a smile on his face. We lost a great friend and brother at Retroware and I’d be lying if I said I was ok. Justin loved everyone. I hope wherever he is, he has a pocketful of quarters. No slugs or tokens.
The Game Chasers: A tribute video from Billy, Jay, and Melvor.
Dexter Morrill: An artwork tribute to Justin and the characters he played in his shows.
Eric Lappe: A tribute video from Eric.