R.I.P. – EGM 1989~2009

2009 has turned out to be both a major milestone and a sad sign of the times to videogamers everywhere. 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of famed publication Electronic Gaming Monthly. 2009 also marks the end of EGM. The recent acquisition of EGM and 1up.com resulted in a transformation of 1up, and a complete end to EGM.  The how’s and why’s behind the long running magazine’s demise will no doubt be debated endlessly on the Internet. Rather than focus on how EGM died, let’s instead focus on how it lived.

20 Years of EGM

The first incarnation of EGM was the 1989 Video Game Buyer’s Guide, published in early ’89. It was soon followed up with the first official issue of EGM in May of ’89. The early issues focused on the 8-bit era of console gaming, with a little attention paid to PC games, the recently announced Nintendo Gameboy, and the impending era of 16-bit gaming.

EGM went on to become incredibly popular since those early days. Issues were usually impossibly dense (they did eventually slim down quite a bit). Every issue was a wonderland of new games and entertaining reviews. Back in its heyday, EGM issues were more exciting to me than JC Penny and Sear’s holiday gift catalogues. Just looking through those issues was nearly as fun as actually getting to play the games that were profiled.

EGM was popular (notorious) for other reasons, namely, April 1st. In 1992, EGM published the infamous Sheng Long trick for Street Fighter 2. The task to get Sheng Long to show up in the game was nearly impossible to achieve, yet many arcade goers attempted to find him anyway. In the minds of most people of my generation, the Sheng Long trick is the most famous April Fool’s trick ever. Many other game publications picked up on this and published their own April Fool’s each year, but no tricks were ever as successful at fooling the population as EGM’s Sheng Long.

Steve Harris, of Twin Galaxies fame, initially started EGM. Control of the magazine was handed over to several other people over the years, ending in Jame Mielke’s (“Milkman”) care by the very end. All of the editors, writers, and contributors handled the magazine expertly through the years. Somehow, EGM lived on for nearly 20 years, never suffering from becoming tarnished or diminished in that time like so many other publications.  By the end of the magazine’s run, the staff members who worked on it were mostly made up of 20 to 30 year olds who grew up reading EGM when they were young. The magazine essentially ended up in the care of its own fans. And take care of it they did. Nobody in their right mind can place any blame for the end of EGM on the last staff who handled it. They all worked hard and treated the magazine with the reverence it deserved.

And so, with the magazine now officially having ended, I bid it and the EGM crew a bittersweet farewell. I wish it could have lasted forever. That probably could not have happened though, due to both the ever advancing trend of technology and the current state of the economy. It was a good run while it lasted. The worst part of losing EGM is the fact that so many people also lost their job. I hope they all end up where they deserve to be. Hopefully we’ll be hearing from former EGM staff members here and there, and start seeing their names show up elsewhere in the games industry.

The final published issue was the January 2009 issue which featured Wolverine on the cover. The final issue that was actually produced will never see light of day in the retail market, but James Mielke has promised that it will eventually show up online for everyone to see. For now, feel free to enjoy the very first official issue of EGM, courtesy of Retromags.

EGM, you came a long way in 20 years. It’s a shame it had to end, but all good things inevitably do. You’ll be missed, but never forgotten.