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Classic Video Gamer Interview And The Debut Of The Cover For #2


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Mike, better, known to many as STGuy1040, has taken the time to sit down and talk with me about the pending release of Classic Video Gamer Magazine recently and also has given me a copy of the cover of issue #2, revealed below for the first time here. My review of Classic Video Gamer Magazine #1 as at the time of this writing been responsible for well over 5,000 views between Atari Age and here on Retromags. Many readers have mentioned that they missed the boat on the first issue as far as getting a print copy, Mike has kept this in mind and has given #2 pre-orders a lot longer to be purchased (meaning the pre-orders are open now at the magazine's webiste).

On with the interview:

Would you like to introduce yourself?

I'm just your average, everyday gamer who grew up with a joystick in his hand. I owe much of my gaming roots to my father who brought it into our household when I was a child. We started with the Magnavox Odyssey and later we added the handheld systems like football, etc, to our collection. I was a lucky child; my father would always take my younger sibling and I to the local bowling alley to play the uprights even though we had video games at home. My life was, and always has been, centralized around gaming because of my father, so there wasn't a day that didn't pass that we weren't playing something.

So you're a gamer from the early days, of not only your life but, of the industry itself then?

My father was a big influence in my life. We would have gaming nights with my father's best friend and his son -- who also happened to be our next door neighbors at the time -- and they would bring over their Atari 2600 and Intellivision games so we could borrow for as long as we liked. Those were the good old days, but they didn't end there. Throughout every console generation I had my father to thank for all the incredible memories I had as a child and teenager. I remember when he surprised my brother and I with the first Nintendo Entertainment System bundle that came packaged with Robby the Robot. I was in Heaven! I could go on but I don't want to bore you.

What motivated you to create Classic Video Gamer Magazine(ClassicVGM)?

The Atari Age community was my initial inspiration, but purchasing my first Atari Jaguar system reignited my interest in publishing. There is so much happening in the homebrew scene that it inspired me to publish a magazine about classic video gaming. You wouldn't believe how many people I encounter that are shocked to hear that small developers are still releasing games for the Atari 2600, Neo-Geo, Dreamcast, etc. These systems may be dead by a marketing standpoint, but to the people inside each community they are just as viable as the day they were released.

Which is tougher-starting a magazine such as ClassicVGM or starting a website that does the same thing, minus the printing costs associated with printing a physical magazine?

I believe both pose their own unique challenges. Designing a professional website requires as much attention as designing pages for a magazine. The cost of publishing a print magazine can be expensive, but when you figure in website bandwidth, web hosting, email accounts, etc., it all evens out in the end.

What do you consider classic and what is the newest system that we can expect to see covered in ClassicVGM?

Some people are beginning to consider the original Xbox a classic system, but the newest system you will see in the pages of ClassicVGM will be the Sega Dreamcast. Other systems will be added as time progresses but only when they are considered true classic systems. I personally consider the original Playstation, Sega Saturn, N64, and even the Sega Dreamcast classic systems. The Dreamcast is classic for its selection of games and short lifespan.

Will you be covering the big hits for most of the systems or will you follow the lead of GameGO! and feature the niche titles that usually only get a paragraph (if that) in other magazines?

When you say big hits I imagine you mean mainstream titles that receive more coverage than something like Alien Hominid for Gamecube. ClassicVGM gives every game a chance to shine, so yes, niche games will receive more attention in the pages of ClassicVGM. Ask yourself this; how many great games have been overlooked because of this? The Neo-Geo is one system that fell prey to this type of treatment during the 1990's. Perfectly good titles were either being ignored or getting a third of the coverage because big hits consumed most of the page space. Even today we are seeing classic resources ignoring certain titles and I ask why?

How hard was it to come up with a title for your magazine?

It was a brain-storming session that actually involved my wife. She is a big video gamer and she helped me build a list of names that I eventually brought to the staff for consideration. Kevin Christensen, who wrote the Cybermorph review featured on our first cover, also offered some suggestions along the way. Ultimately, I wanted the name to be catchy, simple, and something people would remember if abbreviated. We had names like 2D Gamer, Classic Retro Gamer, and a few others, but eventually Classic Video Gamer finally came to me. It was like a bag of bricks being dropped on my head.

Did you expect ClassicVGM to be such a big success?

I had no idea; I was actually surprised by the overabundance of responses we received.

How are you working to improve ClassicVGM in the future? You recently announced a subscription option, what else are you doing to keep readers coming back for more?

In the second issue we are dispelling the myth that we are slanted toward certain platforms. In the second issue, which is slated for a September 2009 release, we have game coverage for the Turbografx-16, Sega 32X, Sega Genesis, 3D0, Sega Dreamcast, Atari Jaguar, etc. We're adding more ways for our readers to interact with the magazine. I'm talking more than just reader mail; the staff and I have discussed the possibility of high score clubs, and other columns that will truly be for our readers, but it all depends on how our reader-base feels about these ideas. We will be presenting these ideas soon and one of them will be mentioned in the second issue of ClassicVGM.

What were some influences on your decisions for layout and design?

My decisions were influenced by magazines like Electronic games, VG&CE, EGM, and even Die-Hard Gamefan. These magazines inspired me as a young man. VG&CE kept things simple with a clean, attractive layout, and Gamefan had some of the best magazine covers in the industry, hands-down.

What is your favorite memory so far since starting ClassicVGM?

There were many but I will always cherish the week the pre-orders arrived via UPS. I even employed the help of my wife to help move each shipment along!

What is your worst?

Falling asleep at the keyboard and waking up with a stiff neck. (Laughs)

Most men, myself included, have trouble getting away with playing videogames for too long, how did you persuade your wife to let you start a magazine?

My wife was a casual gamer when I first met here. She liked playing video games, but if I played them for too long she would fuss about it. One day I decided to introduce her to the hardcore side of gaming, and it eventually turned her into a full-fledge gamer. I started off by introducing her to my Neo-Geo AES system, replete with a copy of KOF '96. My wife has always said that ‘beatin' crap up is fun' so I decided this was the best way to ease her off the seat of casual and into the seat of hardcore.

I allowed my wife to beat me multiple times in KOF '96 so she could get a feel for how the game works. During play, I discovered that the Neo-Geo's joysticks were too bulky for her hands so I switched her over to a Neo-Geo CD pad and she felt more comfortable. The end result was amazing; I started to turn up the heat during our matches after she had a few weeks of practice. My wife was starting to put up a good fight, and she was also starting to play other games on the system.

Here is a good tip for getting your girlfriend or wife to play video games with you: play a 2-player game together, and take it easy on her, especially if you're playing a fighting game. She isn't going to be impressed by your combos or your ability to kick her ass in 10 seconds or less. If a game is too difficult, or too overwhelming, she will be less likely to play again. Try playing games from different genres and ask her what she likes; it worked for me! My wife's favorite Neo-Geo fighter today is KOF'98!

Since my wife understands my love for the hobby, and my passion for ClassicVGM, she understands fully the time involved to develop and publish each issue. We always set time aside to dine out, take road trips, and other relationship staples, so we have a balance that keeps a certain harmony when I am at the computer working on ClassicVGM.

What was the hardest part of getting the first issue done?

We had a last minute change that affected a cover feature. We were about to hit the printers and there was no time to revise the cover, so Matriemelee for Neo-Geo had to remain.

What is your most valued gaming related item?

I know you're asking for my most valued, but do you mind if I mention more than one? I have many systems in my collection, but among them, as my favorites, would have to be the Atari 2600, Neo-Geo, Sega Saturn, and Atari Jaguar.

If you could go back and do one thing differently what would it be?

I think we can all look back on something we have done and think of things we could have done differently. For one, some of our readers felt the pre-order deadline for the first issue was too short. In retrospect, this is one thing I would have changed if given another chance.

How did it feel to receive the first issue in the mail?

It felt like one of those dreams you don't want to wake from. When the UPS truck arrived, and delivered the shipment, I must have spent a good ten minutes staring at the boxes. I don't know what I was expecting to happen in those ten minutes, but they were the most overwhelming ten minutes of my life... in a good way! (laughs)

What do you think of the eminent return of EGM?

It's about time the ‘real' EGM returned!

Are there any specials or contests that you may be doing for ClassicVGM's loyal readers and newcomers alike?

We have exciting things planned for our readers. There will be a contest in the second issue to win a Nintendo 64 system with a copy of Zelda:Ocarina of Time. The contest will not require any special skills, like drawing a picture, so everyone will be able to participate.

What specials and new features are you planning to celebrate the release of Classic Video Gamer #2?

We have a multitude of features coming in the second issue! We have the first hands-on of Hyperkin's new Sega Genesis portable, the GenMobile. This system is simply incredible. It comes with twenty official Genesis games built-in and it has a cartridge slot to play Genesis and Megadrive games. This system is going to be hot! Visit our website at www.classicvgm.com to find out how you can pre-order a GenMobile and get $5.00 off your order through Stone Age Gamer.

[for the newest information about this special go here]

And the much anticipated cover of Classic Video Gamer #2:


Head over to http://www.classicvgm.com for more information about getting past issues and for getting your order in for Classic Video Gamer #2 before time runs out.

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Great interview. With all the writing, scanning, editing, interviewing, etc., you must be a busy man, triverse. I haven't gotten around to it but this is one mag I will be subscribing to. At least the digital version.

Thanks for the comments and I am sure Mike will be happy to hear that you plan on subscribing.  

I do what I can as far as helping out, as long as people let me know they like what the team has been able to bring here (interviews and such) then I will continue to pursue these people that make, or made, gaming fun for us all.  

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