No! Not 1995! This is for 1994! Also, can you guess whose twenty-odd-year-old magazine lost its cover again?
Fair warning: I'm posting this mainly for completionism. (Completionism in regard to the GAMES 100 issues I have, at least, which range from '94 to '98.) There's considerably less content (for our purposes) in this issue for a few reasons. First of all, 1994 was the last time GAMES lumped board games and electronic games together into the same award categories, so the video games have only half the spotlight. This also means less wonky category fun to be had. Beyond this, there are significantly fewer pages devoted to the GAMES 100 (just seven in 1994 compared to the eleven for video games alone in 1996), and the entries for each honoree are significantly shorter. Apparently, the magazine released a standalone, sold-separately GAMES Buyer's Guide to Games in 1994, advertised in this issue as covering over 400 games, not just the Games 100 honorees. This didn't seem to have been a success, as I believe this was the only time GAMES did this; in 1995, the GAMES 100 had a lavish amount of space carved out for it in the primary publication. It does explain in part, though, why the feature seems truncated this year.
So there's not much to discuss, but let's take a look at what we have.
Please ignore my baby attempts at kanji on the side there.
Well, the last line of this post held true up till now.
After watching Gerstmann's stream, there is no way any rational person can conclude his departure was voluntary. Those leaving jobs through an orderly, respectful parting don't cobble together a Patreon the morning after their hastily-announced last day on their job while they're so choked up they can barely speak. The lockstep evasiveness of the rest of the staff about the incident; the complete corporate-speak of that utterly tone-deaf press release that completely downplayed Gerstmann's significance to the site and their very jobs and was so desperate to shove him off the stage; the fact that, again, the departure of the founder of the site and one of the most influential figures in games journalism was announced by a single tweet from the man's own account after he departed, marked by none of the honorariums given every other departing on-screen personality... I complained copiously about the state of the site after the ill-fated Red Ventures sale a year ago, and, yeah, the old guard, Gerstmann included, had very demonstrably reached the burned-out, fed-up asshole stage of "sick of your job," but throwing an industry pioneer and the father of two young kids out on his ear and practically dancing on his cleaned-out virtual desk while promoting your significantly less-talented asses was absolutely not the way to rectify matters.
And yet I see that most of the superfans have, indeed, swallowed the "lol everything's hunky-dory!" corporate PR line. Two explanations: a) an absolute lack of EQ or real-world knowledge of how workplaces function, and/or b) a total need to consume, consume, consume unquestioningly lest one betray the brand. The latter is endemic to sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, which are notorious for accepting diminishing returns and prolonging a property way past its natural end, but also has set in boiling-frog style among some Giant Bomb fans with the parade of increasingly-vital departures from the company in the past couple years. Also, for all the online railing against capitalism, people do think that corporations are their friend after a few honeyed words over social media. Not even honeyed, in this case. Sweet-'n'-Lowed.
I'm disgusted with how those still at the site have comported themselves in this travesty, and I'm glad I have better people in gaming media to support.
(ETA: Sorry for the language in the earlier version of this post; I put it as a careless placeholder and failed to correct it before posting.)
Memorial Day has three purposes. First, it's the unofficial start of summer. Second, it's a patriotic holiday, a sort of lite Fourth of July. Third, it commemorates the sacrifices of veterans, a tradition that has expanded to varying extents from area to area to a more general honoring of loved ones who have passed on.I can't do cemetery visits, as everyone I knew who's gone has been cremated, but I keep a text file of brief descriptions of memories I have of departed loved ones, and for the past few Memorial Days, I've taken to setting aside an hour to look back on these memories, person by person. Time is the enemy of the mental image, and reliving these memories keeps them fresh, keeps them alive. It fortifies those defining moments, such as my dog Sarah sitting happily in the grass of a campus park beneath a white cherry tree, panting with goofy cheer in a storm of petals. It helps recall the sensory part of their presence, such as how my cat Brambles, bitten in the throat by a wild animal after being tossed on our lawn as a kitten, had to burble his way up to meowing but was always sweet and expressive enough to give several strong mews in various inquisitive tones once he got going. I remember how Grandpa Wayne, father of a family friend, always had to sneak the family dogs some food despite express prohibitions, and how Art, a mechanic by trade, helped teach me how to drive. It can even spark other memories - usually, each year, I'll add a couple in the course of the hour.
It's a downright useful, accessible, and, I think, suitable ritual for the holiday that I'd recommend to anyone. This year, it even got me going through old photos. Above, not far out of puppyhood, is Sarah of the cherry blossoms and her sister, Luna, known for her on-point critiques of Lunar titles.
GAMES was a puzzle magazine initially spearheaded by Will Shortz, who found fame as a crossword editor for the New York Times. It still lives in an extremely-truncated incarnation, minus any of the innovation, ingenuity, or imagination that made it great. It its heyday, it went beyond Penny Press crosswords and word searches to offer full-color photo mysteries; papercraft puzzles you had to punch out of inserts and assemble yourself; contests - some whose instructions and very existence were hidden in puzzles - for which the winners were awarded a prestigious GAMES T-shirt. (I had three.) It paid for an incorporated original art and photography into puzzles; it routinely created entirely new types of puzzles and even board games that could be played with player-made or provided printed-paper counters. Even classic puzzles distinguished themselves with more inventive clues incorporating wordplay or betrayals of expectations requiring an additional level of thought, or new twists (such as the World's Most Ornery Crossword, which offered two sets of clues - one easy, one hard - for the same grid, with solvers folding the page one way or the other to choose between them). It even included news articles on upcoming games and puzzle-based contests, plus features on pastimes such as D&D, mah-jongg, go, and orienteering. I cannot underline enough the care and inspiration immersed in the production of the magazine. It wholly lived up to its tagline: "For Creative Minds at Play." I loved it.
One of GAMES' ongoing features consisted of reviews of board games, with the best-regarded honored in an end-of-year feature called "The Games 100." Eventually, the review team's scope expanded to include what the magazine deemed "electronic games" with the medium's rise to prominence and crossover with the content and audience for traditional puzzles and board games. When Myst was awarded Game (paper or electronic) of the Year in 1994, this apparently caused a big controversy among the readership and editorial staff, leading to the formation of the Electronic Games 100 and GAMES getting into reviewing video games in earnest.
The Electronic Games 100 is fascinating from a modern standpoint, as its priorities and awards criteria are utterly alien. It's written by and for people who would enjoy the mental challenge of gaming but were of a markedly different demographic than EGM: more mature; better-heeled and more likely to own the nineties' extravagance of their very own PC (the PC Master Race mentality is in full force here); not as well-versed in video games as a medium, and decidedly not familiar with its conventions or history. This leads to some pretty...different awards.
We're starting with 1996, the first issue I found in my collection of old magazines that are preserved just absolutely superbly. 1996 was the year of: Super Mario 64; Tomb Raider; Diablo; Quake; Resident Evil; Super Mario RPG; and the first installments of Pokemon. This wasn't as big a year as the ones preceding or following, but those are some landmark titles. What, then, is the game of the year?
Page 2 of 32