Eurogamer is 20 years old this week
At 6.49pm on 4th September, 1999, the first post on Eurogamer was made. It was pretty functional. In typical socially awkward Brit fashion, we didn't think to introduce ourselves properly until five minutes later. (And we hadn't yet realised how ugly our name looked with a capital G in it.) But still, that is the official moment Eurogamer was born - and we also take it as the birth date for the company that was built around the site, originally known as Eurogamer Network, then Gamer Network, now part of the ReedPop family.
That means we're 20 years old on Wednesday this week, and we're going to have a few special posts to celebrate through the week - as well as the gilded reskin you're looking at right now.
1999 is a pretty good vintage. We share our birth year with such seminal classics as The Matrix, The Sopranos and The Backstreet Boys' deathless banger I Want It That Way. It was a decent year for video games, too: EverQuest, Driver, Ape Escape, Counter-Strike, System Shock 2, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Quake 3 Arena, Shenmue and Gran Turismo 2. The aftershocks of some of those games are still being felt today.
Eurogamer was founded by teen brothers Rupert and Nick Loman: Quake 2 fanatics, organisers of the EuroQuake event, budding esports impresarios before the term esports had been coined. The site started as a spin-off from their ambitions as LAN party promoters, but quickly took on a life of its own. Although the games magazine scene in the UK was very healthy - if anything, a little oversubscribed - the Lomans had spotted that there were precious few specialist video gaming websites based outside the US. (With all due respect to our friends at GamesRadar, I didn't realise until their own anniversary celebrations a couple of weeks ago that they had just beaten us to it!) I remember visiting Eurogamer in those early years as a punter because it was one of very few places you could get accurate UK release dates for games.
Given its roots, the site had something of a PC and pro-gaming slant at first, under its launch editor John Bye. But the team were smart enough not to box themselves in, and included coverage of console gaming - which was then on the verge of a thrilling new generation, with Dreamcast just launched and PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube around the corner.
Eurogamer has always been a collection of strong individual voices, not a single voice, and we argue about what it stands for on an almost daily basis
Under Bye's successors Kristan Reed and Tom Bramwell - and with the help of such legendary contributors and staff writers as Kieron Gillen, Ellie Gibson and Simon Parkin - Eurogamer quickly built a reputation for being independent-minded, frank, sometimes irreverent, usually thoughtful; and for well-written, tough but fair reviews and reporting. Those of us on the team now strive to live up to that reputation every day. Eurogamer has always been a collection of strong individual voices, not a single voice, and we argue about what it stands for on an almost daily basis. But we all know it in our bones. This site tends to breed loyalty: I've been here 11-and-a-half years and I'm not even the longest-serving member of the team (hi, Bertie). Rupert, even though he sold the company last year, is still here.
Of course, the company is more than Eurogamer, and Eurogamer is more than its writers. We wouldn't be able to do what we do without the incredible patience and support of the sales team, led by Dan Robinson, whose job we make unreasonably difficult considering they pay our wages; the constant determination of the management, under Simon Maxwell, to keep sales and editorial separate; and the brilliant tech team who build, design and operate the site entirely in-house, in particular Mark Kennedy and Craig Munro, both of whom date back to the early days of the company. It's also been thrilling to see a diverse business grow up around us, including sites like GamesIndustry.biz, Rock Paper Shotgun and VG247, video channels like Outside Xbox, and of course the triumphant return to events with EGX in the last decade.
Above all, you readers have been with us every step of the way, sharing our jokes (or making us the butt of yours), keeping us honest, doing us the honour of reading what we have to say. Thank you.
In the last 20 years, the video games community has gone from arguing over which console or graphics card is best to arguing about issues that cut to the very core of our identity as humans, the way our society is built, the way we treat each other. It has been rough sometimes (not least in the past week). Games, too, have changed beyond recognition in that time, and the job of covering games has changed with them.
But we are still bound to each other - and to you - by our amazement at what these extraordinary, unprecedented cultural artifacts can be. Covering games for you is a privilege, and we can't wait to see where they go next. Here's to another 20 years.