In 1987, I was already writing about video games, but in ALL CAPS BECAUSE I HAD NO OTHER CHOICE

I was in seventh grade then.  We had just gotten our Nintendo the Christmas prior, so much of that year was firmly planted in front of our 13″ television with its VHF and UHF dials.  So many games that are now considered legendary were new then, or at least new to us:  Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II, and Metroid.  We didn’t realize the potential legacy, obviously; we were just kids playing video games in the ’80s.

But I wasn’t just a kid, I was me, and this project is like the nexus of a Venn diagram of three aspects of my personality it took me many later years to reconcile and, perhaps, appreciate:  writer, video game player, and obsessive type-A bossy leader.

I give you Volume 1, Issue 2, of the West Bend NES Club newsletter.  (Of course I would publish newsletters with volume and issue numbers.)  The actual name of the club was the West Bend Power Players.  I have a distinct memory (which I have been unable to verify online) that the suggestion to form a club around playing Nintendo games came directly from Nintendo itself, perhaps in the pages of Nintendo Power. I was neither the president nor vice-president of our endearingly earnest little group; I was something much more powerful:  the publisher.

This newsletter was created with The Newsroom, software from Springboard which I ran strictly from 5 1/4″ floppy disks because our first home PC only had a “virtual” hard drive (a concept I still don’t understand).  Newsroom was arguably the first consumer-grade publishing software to include WYSIWYG layout, and perhaps helped move desktop publishing forward.  Not that it was without its limitations:  for example, there were easily over one hundred clip art choices.  There were several header fonts, but only one body font with a persistent dearth of lowercase letters, irritating then, which now makes it sound like seventh graders are shouting Nintendo-related things at you all the way from twenty-five years ago:  ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS PLAYED THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, RIGHT??

Volume 1, Issue 1, has been tragically lost to history.  But I have 1.4, 1.5, and 2.1 still on file.  I’m putting these online partly for whimsy’s sake, partly because it might help a PhD candidate with a very, very specific (and questionable) research interest, and partly because beneath the formidable walls of text and occasional misspellings lies the genuine passion of youth:  love for what we deem great (OVERALL, THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST ADVENTURE GAMES EVER.  IF YOU SEE IT, GET IT!!!), brutal dot-matrix umbrage for what we don’t (THIS GAME IS ALMOST WORST THAN HOMEWORK!), and the tricky politics of belonging.

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2 comments on “In 1987, I was already writing about video games, but in ALL CAPS BECAUSE I HAD NO OTHER CHOICE

  1. Barb Kilgust says:

    You’re a funny guy, BJ, and you were obviously a funny boy as well. Your actuarial side is showing! (I’m referring most specifically to the volume and issue numbers, something I wasn’t even aware of until well into my years of higher education.)

  2. […] can read my original post about the West Bend NES club and its stylish and hard-hitting newsletter.  Or, for you […]

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