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  • Me

    Posted on July 14th, 2009 keving 4 comments

    I have not thrown out a business card in nearly nine years on this loony express train. I thought I’d show some of ’em off, exploring some of the detours of game-industry history from 2000 on in the process. Starting with me, because I’m that way. Plus, I worked for and I gotta brag about it to somebody.

    gifford1My first paying job that wasn’t Wendy’s or the college bookstore was when I worked a summer at writing news and filling up their database with retro games. This was the 1999-era, when they hired 110 people to make a video-game website and had many of them devoting 40 hours a week to the most ridiculous things, such as educational games. was founded and run by world-famous cybergamer Dennis “Thresh” Fong, and therefore everybody on the staff also needed nicknames to put on their business cards. I used my IRC nick, which I took from the name of a character in Bonobono. The company was set up in warehouse space in a not-at-all-good part of Richmond, CA, and I was in fancy-schmancy company housing the whole summer. I remember calling my mother and excitedly telling her about the flock of Canada geese on the premises. There was free Snapple and a pristine example of Bally’s Xenon, which I wrote a strategy guide for in’s internal newsletter. Very good times. I’m very happy that I got a job at a dot-com back when it was still a social phenomenon.

    I left at the end of summer to finish up my last year of school. Before I could return, the site was sold licensed out to Ziff Davis Media in 2001 after Fong’s outfit exhausted their $14 million in VC — maybe they shouldn’t have paid full-time dot-com salaries to people like me for writing blurbs about NES games, huh?

    The name bounced around, and around, and around, and now is some sort of mainland-Chinese game news site.

    gifford2 gifford3

    After graduating from college I got a job at GamePro, which hasn’t existed at this location since 2005 or so. They were in San Francisco when I joined on, at a lovely location right by the Bay Bridge, but they moved soon after to this office in Oakland, right by the main BART station. Downtown Oakland gave you a real life view of “the wrong side of the tracks” — fancy outdoor mall and atrium on one side of the BART station, littered streets and gray buildings on the other.

    I was the International News Editor for, a title I earned because IDG had a deal going with Enterbrain at the time and so I got to translate articles from for our website. (Does anyone remember this? I don’t think your average game-forum slug ever admitted to reading back then, but I am reasonably confident the Japan coverage on there was just as good as anything on IGN, etc. today.)

    gifford4 gifford5

    In 2004 IDG bought Star Wars Insider and regrouped it, GamePro and into a separate division, IDG Entertainment. This didn’t change day-to-day work much, but did result in some revised business cards. IDG Entertainment is officially called GamePro Media today, overseeing a flock of websites and their two print mags.

    gifford6 gifford7

    Late in 2004 I moved over to Ziff Davis Media in order to help create I actually got two sets of cards for this job — one in English, one in Japanese. None of this “flip the card to get the other language” stuff. I was in the big time.

    101 Second Street is in the heart of SF, the sort of office any parent would be proud to see his son work at. GameSpot (ie. CBS Interactive) is a couple of blocks down the street, GamePro a bit further down, and Ubisoft’s SF office just around the corner.

    Most of the things that made 1UP a first-rate website didn’t happen until after I left, so I can’t take credit for any of it. If I was arrogant enough to try defending myself, I’d say that Ziff didn’t get super super serious about online until just after I left, when GMR and XBN were suddenly closed. That’s about when the podcast/video stuff really exploded.

    Do you have a business card from the game industry that’s historically interesting or has a neat story attached to it? Tell me about it!


    4 responses to “Me” RSS icon

    • the stuff is a little mistaken in this post. it was 2000, and i think that building was purpose-built, not repurposed warehouse. or it was certainly highly renovated, anyway. remember the feng shui wall coloring?

      also, ziff never bought the url. that’s why was created. the (iirc) korean VC wanted way too much for the url and ended up stuck with it in the end, though ziff did license it and run their internet stuff on for awhile, which makes it more confusing.

    • Gamers as a website was 2000, yeah, but it itself started in the summer of ’99.

      Certainly the place was repurposed, but why would you build a warehouse and waste 90% of the space between the website writers’ heads and the ceiling?

      The Ziff ownership was a mistake on my (and wikipedia’s) part, and I apologize about that.

    • i now see what you mean about “1999-era”, it just makes it sound like you worked there in 1999, or that’s how i read it, anyway!

      not surprised wikipedia is wrong. i never actually read the article on unfortunately everything i’d have to contribute would count as “original research”. i guess what i SHOULD do is blog about’s history and then point a wiki editor toward my blog, rofl. =P

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