In January 2000, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, which at the time was the world’s best-selling video game magazine, published my seven-piece article about Ralph Baer, the inventor of the home video game console.

Baer later told me, several times, that he considered that EGM article to be the catalyst that brought him to a new level of fame. I wasn’t going to argue the point with him. In the 35 years since he had come across his Eureeka! moment on a New York City bench on August 31, 1966, Baer kept in the background as others claimed to invent video- games. By the time the article was published, there were few people in the industry who had no idea who Ralph Baer was, and most importantly, what he had accomplished. After EGM published my article, The Baer Essentials, Ralph Baer’s name and accomplishments had been intro- duced to a new generation of video game executives, developers and fans. Before long, Baer began getting invited to conferences around the world and he began receiving prestigious honors such as an induction into the Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana in 2002. These honors culminated with Baer receiving the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush at the White House on February 13, 2006.

After that award, the 83-year old Baer began limiting his personal appearances. Although he still travelled to industry shows such as the Game Developers Conference in 2007 or to his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010, he began withdrawing from fan- centric shows such as PAX East and Classic Gaming Expo (CGE). He once told me that nothing else could compare to receiving the National Medal of Technology. Nothing could top receiving recognition from the govern- ment of the United States for your endeavors.

 

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Also check out the feature article Mysterious Case of Pseudo-Sonic by Bill Donohue

It was a typical San Francisco summer night: dense fog, a steady cold drizzle, and temps in the low 40s. I was on my way downtown to gather some information on a case that had just landed on my desk. It seems that a famous game character had been kidnapped. It was my job to find him. My name is Guy… Guy Mandood, and I’m a P.I. That stands for Private Eye… I still don’t understand how the ”I” works…

I was on my way to a seedy dive bar located on the Embarcadero to get some information on the case from a rat I kept on my payroll. His information wasn’t always right, but he worked for peanuts.

I entered the bar and looked around. The atmosphere in the bar was thick with smoke, or fog, or both. It was hard to tell. On the other side of the room was a large plate glass window that looked out on the ocean. On the wharf, Greg Louganis was entertaining the patrons with his usual repertoire of swans and gainers.

I finally spotted my stool pigeon, seated at a small table in a dark corner. I sauntered over and took a seat across from him.

“Spill the beans, Ratty!”, I barked. Ratty flinched and knocked over his 3-bean salad.

“Take it easy, Mandood!”, Ratty whined. “I got the goods for ya.” He slid a tattered envelope across the greasy table to me. I picked it up off the floor and read it. It seems that the studio, Swell Pictures, had concerns about their star hedgehog. He had been acting strangely and the studio wanted to know why. I was just the man to find out… I threw Ratty a chunk of moldy brie and headed for the airport.

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Leonard Herman Leonard Herman (23 Posts)

Leonard Herman, The Game Scholar, is regarded as one of the earliest and most respected videogame historians. The first edition of his book Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames, which was published in 1994, is considered to be the first serious and comprehensive book about the history of videogames. He has written articles for Videogaming & Computer Illustrated, Games Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Pocket Games, Classic Gamer Magazine, Edge, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Manci Games, Gamespot.com and Video Game Trader, which he also edited. He has also contributed articles to several videogame-related books, including Supercade, The Video Game Explosion and The Encyclopedia of Video Games. Mr. Herman has also written the book ABC To the VCS (A Directory of Software for the Atari 2600), a compendium of game summaries. He has also written and designed user's manuals for the following Atari VCS games: Cracked, Save the Whales, Pick-Up, Rush Hour, Looping, The Entity and Lasercade, as well as the user's guide to Ralph Baer's Pinball! for the Odyssey2. In 1994, he founded Rolenta Press, a publisher of videogame books, whose catalogue included Videogames: In the Beginning, by Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the videogame console, and Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel, the world's first videogame journalist. Two Rolenta Press books were included in a list of the top ten videogame books of all time by Game Informer magazine in 2008. Mr. Herman has served as an advisor for Videotopia, Classic Gaming Expo and the National Videogame Museum. He has appeared in several episodes of G4's Icons and in the documentary, The King of Arcades. In 2003, Mr. Herman received a Classic Gaming Expo Achievement Award in recognition for his accomplishments in documenting game history