During the time when I was but a young boy beginning his interest in videogames, there were only a few magazines my grubby hands would reach for. There was Electronic Gaming Magazine, GamePro, Tips & Tricks, and if I was still thirsty for knowledge, GameFan.
It was fantastic to just run to the newsstand section of my local bookstore and open any issue, skim through the boring text (hey I was kid, I didn’t know any better,) and glare lovingly at the videogame screenshots. With out the internet, publications like these were your only friend in finding out the latest news and information.
Now GameFan was a particular interesting magazine for me. Which is code for; I don’t remember much of it. I’m sure somewhere along the way I picked it up, gave it a good look through, and went on my merry way. Perhaps back then I personally just didn’t get a lasting feel form the magazine.
It wasn’t until I was older to retrospect, that I had found out how beloved GameFan was and the number of followers it had gain during its time. I also learned, unfortunately, of its insane behind the scenes tales that rivaled almost any story from a university frat house.
GameFan was started by both Dave Halverson and Tim Lindquist back in 1992 and it was originally called Die Hard GameFan Magazine. And to that extent, it was very much that; a magazine that served its hardcore audience well. It not only intensely covered domestic games, but Japanese imports too. The publication even incorporated some talk about the soon to be popular Anime culture.
One striking feature to the magazine, was the great quality of the paper used that produced crisp colorful screenshots of the games. The screenshots just looked so spot-on when compared to their actual on-screen sources. This was a testament of the staff’s deep passion to videogames, and could be easily felt when they held a Gamefan issue.
While those qualities above are special, and a good reason for GameFan’s loyal following, it’s not worth much anything if all you do is screw if up by making management gaff after management gaff. The most infamous of these within the industry, is a specific issue where an offending racial epithet was somehow printed in one of its reviews.
But that was only the tip of iceberg, at least not behind closed doors. When the publication wasn’t slacking off in the editorial department, like writing articles while on acid, it was stealing money from company payroll just to acquire a Sonic the Hedgehog statue, or most erroneously, have its staff work without getting hardly paid.
All these lovely (and I mean that sarcastically) behind the scenes stories, from actual former staff members of GameFan, can be read over at The Next Level Forum. There an ex-GameFan writer began a thread to gather up information for what was to become a Wiki-article about the magazine, but then quickly ended up as a slight pissing-on party for one Dave Halverson (the guy who stole payroll money to buy that Sonic the Hedgehog statue.)
Not all of the stories in the thread are degrading, in fact most have some interesting insights into the history of GameFan, such as the inaugural cover art. Some other stories will also have you laughing from your chair as they are just absurd and unbelievable to read.
Truth be told, it was mid-way through my reading that I felt a bit warmed by the stories being told. Yeah, some of the former employees sound quiet vengeful against a certain person, but aside that, there is a youthful passion. I could tell that the former staffers of GameFan really had a strong love for videogames, and they wanted nothing more but to see their publication become something big. It’s just sad that an awful management had to ruin such a dream.
I’ve gone through the trouble of finding some of the amusing and outlandish tales for you above. But for others, I humbly request you try to read though the entire thread – it is a long read, but it’s worth it just for the enticing knowledge spread throughout.
The GameFan History Thread [The Next Level Forums]
Pictures credited to Wikipedia.