Two decades ago in May 1996, at the scheduled time of midnight Pacific, an 882-word article examining the virtues of the real-time strategy game War Wind surfaced online.
This, according to internal website tools, was GameSpot’s very first article.
20 years later, War Wind isn’t quite the talk of the town, but dare we say GameSpot has remained a key fixture in the daily lives of impassioned games fans keen to be informed and entertained. To date we have published 106,451 articles, 74,994 videos, and 14,097 reviews (yes, this one included). Across this sprawling mass of media you can find the first drafts of gaming history: stories about the emergence of 3D graphics, videos showcasing the craze of online multiplayer, opinion pieces debating the fall and rise of PC gaming, and millions of comments extolling the magnificence of the likes of Mario 64, Call of Duty, Half-Life 2, Minecraft, and an elite few of the 113,353 games we have covered.
Apologies, but at this 20 year mark allow us a moment to take a breather and reflect. This week we’re celebrating two decades of GameSpot, and to mark the occasion, below we have featured some of the most memorable articles, videos, and reviews that have graced the site. These have been hand-picked by GameSpot editors past and present.
From all of us at GameSpot, thank you so much for your patronage and support. We hope you enjoy, and we look forward to celebrating the next 20 years with you.
Before it became a phenomenon, back when the phrase “massively multiplayer online game” had no acronym, during a time when Blizzard was in the grips of a company-defining gamble, GameSpot immersed itself in World of Warcraft and emerged with one conclusion: “The worst thing about World of Warcraft is that you can’t just play it all the time. After all, chances are if you start, you’ll never want to stop.”
How does a reviewer put into words how absolutely barbaric it is to be subjected to Big Rigs? How does one even begin to dissect the Citizen Kane of bad games? How many stacks of Don Quixote must a person write to emphasise the Cthulhu-dwelling-depths of shame that Big Rigs dwells in? In this video review, Alex Navarro provides an answer with unreserved grace and ingenuity.
Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis have always been laws unto themselves and few examples are better than this seemingly throwaway teleshopping video. It’s decades funnier than it deserves to be, liberally lampooning tatty game schwag, E3 overkill, infomercial cadence, and perhaps inevitably, themselves. Jeff said it best: It’s below stupid.
Geoff Keighley is better known today for his work in front of the camera, but that belies his exceptional work as a reporter. The Final Hours of Half-Life 2 is a gargantuan, 17,000-word masterpiece that any fan of games writing (with a couple of hours to spare) should study carefully. Offering unprecedented access into the development process is one thing, but to do it with such a seminal game, at a studio that was busy tormenting itself, makes this a historically significant example of longform games journalism.
Games are often times a confectionary, something many of us play simply because of the fun and excitement they add to our lives. But games can have a serious side, and for many people out there, they can be a way to cope with depression and other mental health issues. Danny O’Dwyer spoke to a few gamers in 2013 about how games have helped them overcome their challenges, and it resulted in one of the most poignant and heartfelt videos GameSpot has ever produced.
GameSpot writers have written countless previews of yet-to-be-released games. And yes, sometimes it can be tough to craft a bold and interesting angle on yet another run-of-the-mill shooter, or action-adventure, or strategy game. But former editor Brian Ekberg found a way, channelling his inner Hulk to create this hilarious look at The Incredible Hulk Game in 2008. You could say that Ekberg totally (ahem) smashed this preview.
Preserving video games has been a rallying cry for organisations like the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and California’s Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment. But long before those two came on the scene, there was already an elite force dedicated to travelling through time and saving games from oblivion. Actually, it was just Jeff Gertsmann, Ryan Davis, and Rich Gallup goofing around, but you get the idea. As a bonus, they were ANIMATED.
Journey Review By Kevin VanOrd, July 23, 2015
GameSpot prides itself on the thoroughness and quality of its game reviews, and we believe we provide you an important service when we tell you our opinions on what games are worth your time. Naturally, we’ve given very, very few games the ultimate score of 10, but when we do, you can be sure of that game’s immense quality. Long-time reviews editor Kevin VanOrd may no longer be at GameSpot, but during his long tenure here, he only gave out three 10s. Journey’s remaster was his most recent, and it shows VanOrd at his best.
The Ultimate Rocket League Showdown by Rob Handlery, Mary Kish, Erick Tay, Chris Watters, Jake Dekker, July 30, 2015
Fans of the site and our editors will know that Rocket League was an obsession in 2015 (and to be frank, even to this day). That fanaticism peaked when, in a pique of wild hubris, our team decided to take on a Rocket League game challenge direct from the makers of the game themselves. What happened next was… well, see for yourselves.
Video games are a constantly evolving medium, morphing and shifting as technology and artistic ambition redefine the parameters of this interactive medium. Gone Home was at the vanguard of this change, a game that forced many to see games as capable of much more than what had come before it. Carolyn Petit’s insightful, thoughtful review on Gone Home is a must-read, analysing the many layers of this emotional game and arguing that maybe, just maybe, video games can be more than just shooting or role-playing in a fantasy world.
Walkthroughs and guides can be such dry things. “Make sure to take this item with you. Attack from here. Avoid this bit. Blah blah blah.” But former editor Matt Rorie took a different approach to guides, crafting a whole new persona and putting a noir twist on what would normally be a fairly standard article. Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to introduce Matt Rorie: Boss of Bosses.
GameSpot has spoken to thousands of developers during its lifetime, with many of those interviews resulting in thoughtful, analytical pieces on the process and pain of video game creation. This is not one of those articles. But when you put together the cheeky and irreverent Street Fighter lead Yoshinori Ono and GameSpot’s self-confessed Skullomania superfan Tamoor Hussain in the same room, this was bound to happen.
Video games have long been an easy punching bag for mainstream media when it came to violence in society. Games have been the scapegoat for mass shootings, murders, and the general depravity of the world for decades, despite numerous studies showing how little negative effect gaming actually has. In this video, Lucy James took a look at a then recent study linking violent video games and aggression.
Any website that lasts 20 years will invariably have its high and lows, and GameSpot was not immune to this. In 2012, GameSpot addressed one of the key events in its history with the return of Jeff Gertsmann and the Giant Bomb team back into the CBS Interactive fold (CBS Interactive is the owner of both GameSpot and Giant Bomb). In this compelling interview, Jeff chatted with then GameSpot Programming VP John Davison about the events surrounding the now infamous “Gertsmanngate” episode.
Making video games is hard. Making a video game only for it to never see the light of day is even harder. But not every game failure stays a failure. In this in-depth video feature by Danny O’Dwyer, we saw the story of how Blizzard managed to create Overwatch out of the ashes of Titan, directly from the team who saw it all fall and rise again.
People making internet videos about games is so passe now, what with millions of YouTubers and Twitch streamers and, uh, GameSpots of the world pumping out millions of hours of content. But there was a time when it was brand new, when the concept of using precious bandwidth to talk about video games was seen as a potentially silly thing to do. GameSpot was at the forefront of this silliness with its ongoing live show, On The Spot, and here is that show’s very first episode from way back in 2004.
Button Mashing was a show that GameSpot produced that pitted editors against audience members (and the occasional game developer) in a series of increasingly difficult video game challenges. So not to brag, but in a way, GameSpot gave rise to professional esports today. In this episode of Super Button Mashing, cheer as editors Shaun McInnis and Chris Watters take on the might of David Jaffe, the mind behind the very first God of War.
Sure, we may be all about video games, but GameSpot also has a deep and abiding respect for the natural world. Witness Rob Handlery as he channels his inner David Attenborough and tracks an elusive mountain lion through the wilds (and the not so wild) of Grand Theft Auto V.
Community has long been an important part of GameSpot, and few shows made as huge an impact on our loyal audience as the long-running Skyrim Mods show. Each week, Cameron Robinson and Seb Ford goofed around with the best, weirdest, and funniest mods for Skyrim, and made sure the community was a key part of every episode.
For the past few years, GameSpot’s global crew have banded together to support Extra Life, a charity that raises money for children’s hospitals. GameSpot staff stream live gameplay for 24 hours straight, fuelled by caffeine, adrenaline, and the support of fans from around the world. Things can, and often do, get a little manic and wild, but it’s all for a great cause: for the children.