was a video game magazine that had its best years in the mid-1990s
. Starting out as a seemingly-regular game mag (debuting in 1989 around the same time as Game Pro
and Electronic Gaming Monthly
), there was very little to separate it from the competition as far as video game magazines went, but in the mid-90s, it shifted into a more comedic, irreverent style with Chris Slate taking over as its Editor. Under Slate, the entire magazine started getting more deliberately wacky, with the game reviewers gaining personality (and faux-personality, with Bill Donohue as an evil dungeon-master and Mike Salmon as a sarcastic ladies-man).
The letters page started with several running gags, with Donohue and the fans building upon each others' jokes, creating new fictional characters and personas, speaking of a "Cleansing" (and later, "The Rinsing"), and promises of world domination and violent reprisals. It was just that kind of a mag — mostly nonsensical, and all in good fun (and vulgar taste). While Game Pro
was far bigger, and EGM
and Diehard Game Fan
got all the "legit" industry cred, Game Players was a wild and wacky book with running gags, a letters page that was 80% joke-topics (leaving the rest for actual video games), and stands out even today.
As memorable as the magazine's humor was at the time, Game Players
would change again after a few years. 1996 saw the magazine turning into Ultra Game Players
, at which point they tried to drop most of the humor and changed a great deal of the staff
. Their review system, originally based off of Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Innovation & Replay Value, now exploded into a huge eighteen category
scoring system. This did not go over well, so the humor was gradually worked back into the magazine. By 1998, the magazine had changed into yet another format under the name of Game Buyer
. Four issues later, the magazine collapsed and was shut down.
Its editors and writers moved on elsewhere — Chris Slate has had the most success of the group; he would eventually become editor in chief of the now-discontinued Nintendo Power
, and is now editor in chief of Mac Life
. Bill Donohue, who worked with Slate at PSM
, still writes Jaded Gamer
columns (they debuted in the Ultra
era), Frank O'Connor eventually wound up at Microsoff in charge of the Halo
franchise, Chris Charla is running the new Xbox One
Independant Developers divsion, Francesca Reyes is editor in chief of Official Xbox Magazine
, and Mike Salmon is Director of Research and Planning at 2K Games.
This magazine contained the following tropes:
- All Women Are Prudes: Deconstructed: One reader letter addressed the controversy of how women are depicted in video games by arguing that there are just as many hunky guys in games, and that women should open their eyes and enjoy the beefcakes instead of complaining about the scantily clad women. (the letter was from a woman, mind you)
- Bee Afraid: One of the subscriber newsletters featured a comic strip about deadly bees. But they're no ordinary bees, they're... LASERBEES.
- Denser and Wackier: The format from roughly mid-93 to September 1996.
- Fanservice: Played straight in many ads inside their magazines (an ad for Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer in one issue was almost beyond belief in this regard), but they weren't above parodying the hell out of it in one article where, in response to a complaint about this trope they took a picture of a woman in a skimpy outfit holding a BFG and did a faux-serious run down of how practical the outfit really was (with tongue firmly in cheek).
- Fanservice Cover: The final issue of Ultra Game Players (June 1998) featured a swimsuit-clad woman on the cover, as one of the features inside was a long-requested article about the hottest video game babes. Other fanservice-y covers include any cover with Lara Croft, and the May 1998 cover, which featured Turok and a bikini babe hanging off him whose face was modeled after Pamela Anderson.
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: Their response to a female fan's complaint about Chun-Li's Shower Scene in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.
- Killer App: Frequent hype was common, despite a relatively-impartial viewpoint. They all but blew their wad with Battle Arena Toshinden, calling it literally the "Best Brawler EVER!" on their cover after playing the Japanese version. Though they were spot-on sometimes (Tomb Raider, Super Mario 64), things like that just look more hilarious in retrospect.
- Mr. Fanservice: Reviewer Mike Salmon, especially with his 90s-style long hair and facial hair.
- The Nineties: Their decade of operation. They're also a major signpost of that era, going crazy over the most bloody and violent games, getting into the start-up of the Anime movement, and using that decade's lack of censorship to make tons of dick and fart jokes.
- Rule of Funny: Ruled on their letters page, which eventually focused more on joke-y letters about "Moogoo the Mangler" and "The Cleansing" of the impure and weak, than it did towards actual video game coverage.
- Eventually, though, they did notice this was getting out of hand and politely informed fans that yes, most of that crap was funny, but they really needed to cover games sooner or later. Soon after, most of the more absurd writing atrophied away.
- Running Gag: When PaRappa the Rapper was brand new, the magazine frequently made light of the fact that this was one instance where rap wouldn't cause a drive-by shooting. Some readers wrote in complaining of this logical fallacy.
- Series Hiatus: The main Game Players title went on one from October 1991 to June 1993.
- Take That: They were not above knocking crappy systems, and all but called-out various pieces of garbage for their lameness. Rise of the Robots was a big victim, as was the Virtual Boy console and the 32X add-on to the Sega Genesis. Nintendo got called out a great deal for their Vapor Ware that they were known for in the 1990s.
- Their lowest possible rating (below even "Shoot Me") was named after a Japanese PS launch game titled Cosmic Race. They had good reason.
- Gamer-X was also a thinly-veiled parody of Electronic Gaming Monthly's Sushi-X.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The Stunt Race FX review is a notable example. The game scored "7" and "8" in every category, yet ended up with a 90% score.