That morning I awoke to a day like any other… or so I thought. I crawled out of my bed and stretched, meandered to the bathroom for the daily ritual, and then hopped on my computer to read the news and check my usual sites. My first stop was 1up.com and when I got there it was like stumbling upon a burning village. My heart stopped, my eyes widened, and my stomach sank from a phantom gut-punch. EGM had been canceled…
The first official issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Electronic Gaming Monthly’s first issue appeared in 1989 and continued to run until that fateful January day in 2009. The magazine had several features that appeared every month with the usual letters to the editor, previews, cover stories, and reviews. It focused primarily on console gaming and did everything from reflections on past games to satirical humor and spoofs. And, like many game mags of the time, would occasionally be packed with cool extras; like posters, strategy guides, and other goodies. Those were the days...
I tried to swallow, but the anguish inside pushed back. Tears started to form in the corner of my eyes and I stood up to walk away. This can’t be happening. I mean, I know that the internet is killing print media, but EGM? Don’t it let be true! We can save it, there has to be a way to save it! I sat back down and rested my head on my hands. What about all of those people? All of those writers, editors, contributors; what was going to happen to them? Will I ever get to read Seanbaby tear apart a crappy game again, or read another Shane Bettenhousen review?
EGM’s reviewing process was ideal to me. Up until about 2008 games were reviewed by multiple people, the big ones anyway. There were 3-4 reviewers and as you read, over time, you knew which reviewers had similar tastes as you. They gave out the award every issue for “Game of the Month” to the highest reviewed game, as well as a title for the feared, and lowest reviewed, “Shame of the Month”. I certainly didn’t read the magazine for the reviews, but I always enjoyed reading them, even if I disagreed.
I was devastated. After I finally calmed and collected myself a little I began to read what the writers were posting on 1up. Some were angry, others in disbelief, but most of them were just sad to see it all end. They were all adrift in the open sea and all I could do was watch them, hoping a passing boat would pick them up and tell me where they were going. It was honestly like an old friend had died. You didn’t know the family very well, but you wanted to give your condolences anyway. After some dust had settled people began to poke through the rubble. Many stated that they would continue to have jobs at 1up or some other part of Ziff Davis, but a few gave the news that they were newly unemployed. At least there was still 1up…
1up was the online sister of EGM. I never thought it was nearly as good, but it passed the time between issues and let me keep up with my favorite writers. It started in 2003, and had its own separate news and features so there wasn’t too much of an overlay. The best part was the podcasts. I became obsessed with the 1up Show, and watched every episode. The others were top notch as well: 1up Yours, Listen Up, etc. But the 1up Show will always be my favorite… partially due to the awesome theme song (particularly the summer theme).
I decided to go for a walk to clear my head. I wasn’t very emotional anymore and instead a melancholy washed over me. I tried to just think about all of the good times. The very first issue I convinced my mom to buy me in the grocery store, which I’m sure she regretted because it began a life-long nagging for her to take me to Blockbuster, and birthday/Christmas lists filled with things she had never even heard of. The birthday I asked my dad for a subscription instead of a toy or game; he didn’t care, at least I was reading. The summer nights I would spend watching 1up’s podcasts to get me away from being in the middle of nowhere visiting family. Then there was the time I was reading a particularly funny article in class that made me laugh out loud and subsequently embarrass me. So many good memories… I thought to myself, “If I ever have the money I’m going to put it all back together the way it was”. These writers were a part of my life every month and I felt like I really knew them. These people were my friends.
The best part of any continuously written outlet is that you learn to love or hate certain writers. For me, with EGM I could check back every month and essentially see what my long-time friends thought. For some writers I even decided specifically to like certain games because they hated them. There was a special type of comfort that existed for me, even though they weren't the only things I read. I did, and still do read multiple video game sites, but at the time 1up was my first stop because of my devotion to EGM (Ziff Davis Media owned both). I’ve had this type of connection to other outlets, Kotaku especially, but you never forget your first favorite site. Love at first site.
Some of the EGM and 1UP crew.
Later that day more terrible news came… 1up’s podcasts had all been suspended due to the site being purchased by UGO. 1up may still be standing, but it wasn’t going to be the same. After looking into it more many of the podcast creators explained that “postponed” basically meant they were all canceled. No part of it was ever going to be the same. As I began to come to terms with everything my only remaining concern was all of the good people there…
Time passes, wounds heal, and sometimes you get a happy ending. Many of my favorite people went on to keep doing what they do best…
EGM’s Editor-in-Chief, and 1up Editorial Director, Dan “Shoe” Hsu went on to form Bitmob and Bitmob Media, Inc. with former executive producer of GameVideos.com and The 1up Show, Demian Linn.
Anthony Gallegos went on to form Eat-Sleep-Game and the Rebel FM podcast, which happens to be my favorite one for a while now.
Matt Chandronait does the Rebel FM podcast as well, but he also formed Area 5 TV with Ryan O’Donnell and other ex-1up staff including Jason Bertrand, Jay Frechette, Rob Bowen, and Cesar Quintero.
Seanbaby always knew how to make me laugh and he’s still at it.
Shane Bettenhausen has been involved with a number things in the game industry, but has ultimately landed at SCEA.
Luke Smith, a frequent adversary of Shane and former Kotaku writer before going to 1up, now works for Bungie. Though, admittedly he left 1up in 2007.
There were so many writers, and I don’t have the time to keep up with them, but these people…
Steve Harris, Martin Alessi, Ken Williams (as Sushi-X), "Trickman" Terry Minnich, Andrew "Cyber-Boy" Baran, Danyon Carpenter, Marc Camron (later Director of Operations), Mark "Candyman" LeFebvre, Todd Rogers, Mike Weigand a.k.a. Major Mike (now Managing Editor at GamePro), Al Manuel, Howard Grossman, Mark "Mo" Hain, Mike Vallas, Jason Streetz, Ken Badziak, Scott Augustyn, Chris Johnston, Che Chou, Dave Ruchala, Crispin Boyer, Greg Sewart, Jeanne Trais, Jennifer Tsao, artist Jeremy Norm Scott, Shawn "Shawnimal" Smith, West Coast Editor Kelly Rickards, Kraig Kujawa, Dean Hager, Jeremy Parish, and Mark Macdonald (who later went on to become director of Gamevideos.com before leaving Ziff-Davis). Writers who also served stints as editor-in chief include Ed Semrad, Joe Funk, John Davison, and James Mielke
…these people all did a wonderful job.
That night I wanted to talk to someone. I wanted someone else to understand how I felt, but I wasn’t certain if anyone would. Was I being overly invested and emotional? Maybe… but a part of my childhood and passion had just been cut clean off. I knew I would be just fine, I knew that I would find another outlet, maybe even a better one… but no one likes to be told you can’t hang out with all of your friends in the same place anymore.
The last issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly ended up being the January issue with Wolverine on the cover. I couldn’t help but keep every issue, especially this one. Somewhere in a dark, overly-filled garage are ridiculously heavy tubs and bins filled to the brim with these magazines... and I don't really want to get rid of them.
However, as you can see from this previous story on Kotaku, there was one final issue released digitally to celebrate EGM’s 20th anniversary. Then in April of 2010 EGM arose from the ashes and was reborn. 1up was absorbed into IGN recently, but at least people once again get EGM in print along with a digital version. Many past writers contribute to the new mag and their return is welcomed by many; myself included.