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7.25.2001 by JP

Many of you have probably been thinking “Wow, JP’s quite the internet guru, he must have had some ‘net experience before his recent work on TM”. In this column I’ll tell you a little about my first site, Gamestem, and about the mistakes I made with it.

Back in 1998 I was a plucky young lad who’d just finished grade 11 and I was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my life. My parents had just decided move to England for a year and I was pretty excited about the trip unlike my younger sister who had to be sedated for at least the first two weeks of the trip if I remember correctly. I guess she had close friends or something, I don’t know…

So I find myself in Oxford, England which is a beautiful, beautiful city, it’s really the nicest place I’ve ever lived, Ottawa being a close second and Toronto being a distant third. So I’m in this British wonderland and of course I spend most of my time online racking up HUGE internet bills (they charge by the minute for local calls there!). While I’m not taking refuge from nature in my dark bedroom I’m required to attend school where I end up meeting some really great friends, some of whom are huge geeks like me! At some point while ignoring our PASCAL assignments in computer class we start talking about how cool it would be to run a games review website and eventually decide to go ahead with it and choose a name “Gamestuff”. Now I went home to my dark room to work on the design and logo which consists of some flaming animated GIF letters I downloaded. The next day one of my friends informs me that there’s already a Gamestuff.com so we agree to rethink the name. Once at home I decide I’d like to use the flaming letters without the hassle of downloading more and the most coherent thing I could come up with was “Gamestem” which I later decided was a rather cleaver pun on the term “Brainstem”.

Now we had a name, we needed a domain. I, being the filthy rich-boy I was paid for the domain and the hosting and started writing emails to gaming companies. Here’s on of the early ones I sent off with remarkable success:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing on behalf of Gamestem, a new website (not online yet) dedicated to all gaming related stuff. I'm not going to lie to you, we're a very small site, a team of 10 6th form students here in jolly old Oxford, England, working to bring this site to life, we're going to include reviews of gaming related software and hardware, and that's where you come in. We'd like to review your product. I know it's allot to ask, but if you could send us one it would be great, we'd even be willing to send it back after a few weeks. In exchange for this we would be willing to put up an ad and a link to your site, or anything else you might be able to suggest. Even if you're answer is no, it would be great to get some feedback from you, perhaps some insight into how this whole gaming press thing works. If you do agree to send us the product for review, email me back and I'll send you a shipping address as well as any other info you might need. Thank you very much for you're time and I hope to hear from you soon.


Jean-Paul Davidson (founder of Gamestem)

And here’s the revised copy that makes me look like slightly less of a moron:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am the founder of Gamestem, a website dedicated to computer gaming. Gamestem is still in the devellopement stages but it should be online by the end of the month at www.gamestem.com. Our main focus will be on reviewing/previwing gaming software and hardware, we will also have sections dedicated to industry news and hints/cheats. We are a dedicated team made up of students based here in Oxford, England. Although we are students I'd like to make it clear that we are working on this outside of school and Gamestem is not in any way asociated with our school.
We'd like to review your products before our site is launched so we have some content for the launch. We'd also like to be added to your mailing list for future press releases. I hope this is not too much to ask and I hope to hear from you soon.

Many Thanks,

Jean-Paul Davidson (founder of Gamestem)

After a few emails and some phone calls (using my deepest, most manly voice) we were in business! They actually sent us games! And hardware! Sometimes I’d bike home from school at lunch just to see what we’d received that day, we got a slew of games, some hardware (all of which was ours to keep except for the Dell computer with the 21 inch screen). Our good friend James Beaven at Activision UK even invited us to a couple of games releases in London. For a couple of 17 year olds we were having a heck of a time. After a while though, I started losing interest in games and gaming, my marks started to slip because I was working so hard on the site and I got into some squabbles with my co-conspirators over who gets to keep what etc… When the time came to leave England and move back home I took the site down and never really looked back. It’s only now that I wish I’d kept some sort of a record of that crazy time in my life (I don’t even have a backup of the site). It was an amazing adventure and just goes to show how the internet has changed things. It also shows though the non-permanence of the net, I no longer own the domain (it’s up for grabs again) and I don’t have a copy of the old site, all I’ve got left is the logo-shirt I made which is now faded and stained. I’m glad I had the experience though, it was fun while it lasted and I’ve learned a lot that I’ve been able to apply to Tangmonkey. Tangmonkey is building a community or staff members and readers that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Someday I might leave Tangmonkey (not anytime soon mind you) but it would bring great joy to see it continue without me, and grow.

There are still a few places you can see the ghosts of Gamestem on the net, have a look:

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