Welcome to Videogame Pavilion

Monday, February 1, 2016

Howdy! My name is Chris and I’d like to welcome you to the launch Videogame Pavilion. This site is to be a resource of primary and secondary sources for the hobby and industry of videogaming.

This is an alpha version of the site taking nine videogame magazines as sources. Seven of these magazines are available in two digital archive forms: 300dpi images of every page of the magazine in both PDF and CBR formats; and web recreations of the articles and graphical elements. Two additional magazines were sourced from other sites thus only the web recreations are provided at this time.

A pavilion, be it an elegant or temporary structure, is a place for celebration.

Videogame Pavilion aims to play a role in the larger videogame preservation society. While the site at this time is focused on being a digital archive of these magazines, physical copies of all sources will be delivered to a museum or other organization that shares this important goal of archiving the videogame medium.

This project is born from my support of #GamerGate which I first took notice of late in October 2014. There are a number of articles accompanying the launch of the site and a few remark on my thoughts concerning the hashtag and its importance for both the videogame hobby and the industry. I hope you find the time to read the other articles for a broader picture of this site.

This introductory article will paint some broad strokes about what you find on the site and plans for the future. Before getting into specifics here’s a little bit about what you will find on the site:

9 magazines (724 pages)
193 articles
867 games
21 platforms
1403 game platform listings
167 ad campaigns
400 screenshots
158 pieces of artwork
246 photos

In the nearly four months it took to prepare for this launch the site has reached nearly 2,000 web pages to not only host the magazines in a modern, responsive web format, but the links to interconnect all of the game information. You will find another article discussing the methods used to create the site and some technical details.


I’ve been a gamer since 1974 when I first played Pong at a local drugstore. I remember hearing it first, the nascent "boop" of the ball against paddle. I begged my mom for a quarter and was quickly defeated by the man who had been playing when we first entered the store. This was the same year I had been introduced to lead miniatures, Chivalry and Dungeons & Dragons. I was excited.

In those early days the best I could hope for was finding a new arcade machine and soon home options at the local Sears. As an eight-year-old I would pursue the magazines at the local grocery store when mom took me there shopping and it would be a few years before I first stumbled upon videogame coverage in VIDEO magazine. Those writers would later launch the very first videogame-only magazine, Electronic Games, in the Fall of 1981.

By the time of that first issue I had begun playing games and programming them on my school’s TRS-80 Model I and acquired my first programmable console, Intellivision. I wouldn’t discover Computer Gaming World until later but did follow game coverage in BYTE and Creative Computing. I enjoyed the previews and reviews and in those early days of "professional" releases like Temple of Apshai you could also find "homebrew" which generally ended up being a cassette or disk in a plastic bag with photocopied instructions.

By Christmas of 1982 videogame media had arrived. In addition to Electronic Games we got Electronic Fun (with Computers & Games), Video Games and Videogaming Illustrated on a regular if not monthly basis. I have attempted to capture that era with the launch of Videogame Pavilion, including all of the magazines you could find on the newsstands of the time. In addition, I have included a second issue of Videogaming Illustrated from a year later to contrast the early year of excitement with the realities of the home console downturn.

If you have any interest in the history of videogames perhaps you have picked up one of the few histories that have been written over the years like The Ultimate History of Video Games or Replay: The History of Video Games. Beyond selective coverage in trying to tackle too large of a time period in a limited number of pages I have often found errors both outright and by omission. Perhaps the lack of access to source material of the time contributed to these problems. This site is here to help remedy that issue.

When I first watched the Internet Aristocrat videos linked by Adam Baldwin in his initial #GamerGate tweet I was struck by how many of the issues raised had been on my mind for a number of years. I had begun shying away from or outright ignoring a number of major videogame sites many years earlier, and the few I did check out had the same worrying trend: they were about anything but the games themselves. There was also a newer trend of covering non-games and attempting to foist them on gamers as some sort of expansion of what gaming was despite a clear lack of the most important part of a videogame: gameplay. From the earliest days to today, the only thing that really mattered (beyond the game working) was the gameplay. As videogames got more sophisticated there were other aspects to talk about, but none of them were relevant if the game wasn’t fun to play.

Before the death of print videogame magazines, we referred to them as the "enthusiast press". Some people misinterpret this to mean "enthusiastic" when it really means media designed to serve the needs and interests of people who were enthusiasts of a particular medium. In the realm of videogames, that meant gamers, people who wanted to know what was coming, what had arrived, and were looking for a starting point of discussion with friends with similar interests. It was easy to find such coverage throughout the 1990s in Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and Computer Gaming World. While there were occasional opinion pieces on issues such as censorship the focus remained on the games themselves and particularly the gameplay. Do the controls work? Do the graphics alert you to what’s going on? Are the mechanics fun?

Today games media is essentially blogging. Rather than serving the reader most articles that aren’t disguised press releases are about the author and their particular set of personal or political beliefs. There is also a distinct lack of joy. I’ve remained a gamer for over 40 years because of the fun and thrills videogames give me. With media platforms driven by “click bait” there is no room for enthusiasm, just outrage. In another launch article I write about the kind of videogame site I would have created back when I first discovered #GamerGate. I still believe that site would work.

Videogame Pavilion exists so everyone can take a look at the history of videogames through the lens of game media, particularly magazines and advertising. This launch is all about providing a starting point for a discussion of how best to place that material in the larger context of videogaming. I hope you will find the time to pursue the site and join the discussion of how best to go forward. Most of all I hope you will continue to find the joy in gaming that I have.

Chris Rowley