Happy Birthday - to us! Five years ago, as ECTS '99 roared into life at Olympia in London, Eurogamer was born. Since then, we've all grown up rather a lot, some faces have changed (including the website's, several times), and we've played more games, broken more controllers, and written more words than most people will get through in an entire lifetime. And of course we've had more than our fair share of fun along the way - like trying to rig website award competitions. Have you voted for us in the Virtual Festival Web Awards yet?
As we all know, birthdays are a special time. There's cake, presents, and, in our case, the masochistic desire to create a vast list of useless statistics and testimonials culled from our databases and current staff members. So sit back and join us in quaffing champagne and basking in the incalculably insignificant trivia we've compiled about the website you've wisely decided to fire up your browser and read today. And don't forget to chime in on the comments thread with your favourite memories of Eurogamer over the past five years. We'll be watching with tears in our eyes.
Oh - and here's to the next five years, eh?
Some Of Our Fondest Memories
Buckets Of Claret
This was an object lesson in why games journos shouldn't drink copious quantities of red wine at gaming events, no matter how high its quality. Stood on the side of a very steep hill near Nice is Pierre Cardin's house. Microsoft thought it was a really funky idea to host an Xbox event there. Mr Cardin thought it was a really good idea to realise his Tellytubbies dream and get someone to build a PlayBoy den, complete with bubble windows, death trap swimming pools in all manner of unexpected places and hedges with semi-circular cut-outs in front of them that housed secret four foot drops, so that unsuspecting drunken types would wander towards the hedge in the dark, blinded by the light placed on top of said privet, and, cartoon style, walk in thin air for a few seconds before hitting the deck in a shower of Pinot Noir. Poor Rob blinked disbelievingly for a few seconds, as Kristan disappeared entirely from sight, only to re-emerge crawling over the lip of the Tomb Raider-style spike trap, claret gushing from somewhere above his hairline - deeply distressing a lady in the vicinity who had been attempting to make a mobile phone call, we might add. As it transpired, it was claret, but of the fermented grape variety, a perfectly good glass of wine having been tipped over our errant editor's head in the fall. Why he didn't sue Microsoft for damage to his knee ligaments even he'll never know.
The Evil That Journos Do
What goes on tour stays on tour, came the words, but again, another example of why alcohol and journos should not mix. Suffice to say Kristan ended up in hotel room surrounded by PRs, one of them virtually having sex with a journo on the same bed that he was trying to sit and watch pornography on, whilst gaily swigging from a bottle of champagne. He swore he'd have a quiet night, but ended it wondering how he'd wound up on tour with Oasis. He really wishes he could dob this person in, but that would make him a slimy snake in the grass, and besides, it's more amusing that these people know that he knows what went on. With crystal clarity. Mwahahahaha..
Missing Presumed Dead
Odd things normally happen on Microsoft events, and last year's X0 shindig was no exception, when it emerged that our very own Pat Garratt was feared dead, having last been seen getting ready for a 'swim'. Nowhere to be found the next day, poor Pat had, in fact, nearly drowned half a mile out to sea and needed the whole of the next day to recover. These days, Mr Garratt has learned the error of his ways, got married, given up the sauce, started running, and is in fact taking part in a marathon next month. Pumped and indeed psyched, Pat is the Internet's Terminator. He absolutely will not stop until we win. Phear.
Cavorting With Mexicans
You know how it is. You're in a strange country, you haven't had a drop of alcohol all week, and you've been flogging your guts out on some work-related misery in the meantime. Admittedly in this case the "misery" was the E3 trade convention, featuring all manner of exciting games that we barely deserved to be in the same room as, let alone playing, but we can say we were tired by the time we trundled into the popular Saddle Ranch eatery on LA's Sunset Boulevard one Friday evening last May. Which sort of explains why we then set about getting friendly with the clearly very dangerous Mexican men on a nearby table, pilfering cigarettes and introducing each other to the more profane aspects of one another's culture. We realised it was time to leave when the scary bald one started yelling, "Hey baaaabyyyy" at passing women and touching himself, and one of us pointed at a plane overhead and blurted, "Uh-oh! It's happening again!" Actually, that's not true. We decided to leave when our bald friend started pissing off his hairy, potentially gun-toting associate while he was on the telephone, to be greeted with an exceptionally fiery look and a "Dude, I'm on the phone to my mooooom!" Scarper.
Our FPS Skills Fail Us
Pat Garratt, as widely documented throughout the games industry on this side of the Atlantic, has done some strange things in his life. Going to firing ranges, however, probably ranks on the lower end of things, so when, during our most recent trip to E3 this May, he suggested we all head off to a firing range and try out some guns, we thought it was probably no big deal. After all, he looked so well. Of course, nothing prepared us for the reality of the situation: the curiously named "LAX Firing Range", for some reason located in Inglewood; the "have you got any assault rifles?"; the "maybe you should start them on something smaller"; the sight of Pat firing off round after round at such an explosive rate that the scary looking fellow in the office leapt onto the intercom and yelled "slow it dooooown. Slow it doooooown" until our excitable colleague put - the gun - down. We subsequently made it through LAX security with spent shell casings in our bags, folded up targets tucked into our suitcases and LAX Firing Range temporary licences stapled into our passports. This report filed from Camp X-Ray.
The All Nighters
We know there are quite a few developers out there who think that games journalists don't know the first thing about dedication to a project - the sort of dedication that has them bound to their desks until the early hours and beyond cramming the final bits of code into a near-finished project. And for the most part they'd be right. But every once in a while, usually for a site relaunch, Eurogamer itself descends into the sort of anarchical crunch time antics that developers know only too well. And for some reason Rupert is left in charge of the music. Our tech bods go through it far more than we do, we ought to note, but you may recall last May when the design you're looking at now first launched, there was a period of a couple of days when Tom and the dearly departed (to a career in web design) Martin seemed a little on the peaky side. Well, now the truth can be told: having realised that the database that had been converted over to the new design was lacking a few of the more recently published items, these two lucky chaps took it upon themselves to copy everything over by hand, reinserting every last detail in the brand new content management system. This didn't seem so scary at first, but then we realised there were actually several hundred items and features in need of the treatment - each - and every one also required frontpage images and screenshots. Tom and Martin returned home at around 5am. The higher paid Tom was back in the office at 9am. Martin has yet to recover.
Empowering Pro Gaming
Even amongst ardent gamers who worship their consoles and sleep within two feet of their monstrously loud, throbbing and glowing PCs, professional gaming has always been viewed as something of an oddity. Indeed, with the exception of a few sponsored clans and players, we can't think of too many people who still go around preaching about the 'sport' - and those we do remember standing on tables doing it don't seem to be doing so any longer. Perhaps one reason for this is that the organisation was sometimes a little bit haphazard. Ask the average Eurogamer veteran and one particular incident springs to mind and rather sums the whole thing up - having turned up to mingle with business acquaintances from a popular pro gaming organisation at one of its UK events, mildly baffled EG tech men wound up virtually reconstructing the entire thing from scratch, throughout the night, creating vast lengths of network cable and making sure all the PCs could talk to one another by the time the participants arrived the next day. It's a pity, really, that we're probably not at liberty to discuss which pro gaming organisation invited us over to "take a look" at its operation. But it's safe to say that we didn't see much of them after that.
The danger to life and limb faced by game journalists is often sadly underappreciated by their readers. Consider this - we must cavort with the double dangers of alcohol consumption that most mere mortals only dream of, and PR people so persuasive that they could talk all four legs off a donkey and then convince it to go for a walk afterwards. Rob, Eurogamer's standard-bearer for the Irish heritage of drunken idiocy, nearly ran afoul of both of these factors on a trip to see how Halo PC was shaping up last year, when he came within what he describes as "a mere handful of neuron mis-firings" of being convinced that a Halo tattoo would be a good idea. History does not record where the tattoo would have been placed.
Eurogamer In Numbers
- Number of reviews: 1,082
- Number of 10/10s: 18
- Number of previews: 611
- Number of articles: 328
- Number of news items: 9,754
- Number of times the roundup has been updated "throughout the day": 2
- Number of comments: 206,843
- Top comment posters: Blerk (7,607), otto (6,064), Nemesis (4,588), pjmaybe (3,195), FWB (2,968), Errol (2,886), ssuellid (2,523), Whizzo (2,499), UncleLou (2,472), skalmanxl (2,423)
- Number of times you've said "better than Halo": 94
- Most popular comment threads: WWE RAW2 screenshots (1,177), DRIV3R screenshots (1,051), PSO: Episode I & II review (647), Golden Sun 2 screenshots (612), GTA3 review (467)
- Number of forum posts: 421,176
- Number of forum threads: 17,880
- Number of site designs: 4
- Number of times people have attempted to sue us: 4
- Number of times the hard disk has overflowed: Too numerous to count
- Number of editors: 2
- Longest serving employees: Rupert Loman (5 years), Tom Bramwell (4 years 8 months)
- Best job title: Mat Bettinson ("Gaming evangelist with a goatee")
- Most amusing press freebie: A branded neck cast for Ubisoft's Ultimate Fighting Championship game
- Runner-up: Calvin Klein underpants for a JVC boxing title (because Rupert still wears them)
- Most dangerous press freebie: A switchblade for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
- Runner-up: Chernobyl vodka for the same game (which Tom drank in one evening, and we're beginning to notice the mutations)
- Best staff multiplayer game: SingStar
- Worst staff multiplayer game: Brute Force (shut up, Kristan) [Shut up Rob]
- EG staff member who looks most like a former member of Take That: Mark Kennedy
- Worst haircut: Tom Bramwell
- Best beard: Martin Taylor
- Runner-up: Mark Kennedy
- Sexiest Gamer: Daren Chandisingh (we're sorry ladies, but he's taken)
- Rating out of five that MCV gave Eurogamer.net: 1
- Number of readers we love: All of you. Except the reader who mailed in claiming Kristan should be fired following the terrible injustice that was the Gradius V review.