by Millar Time
I was an avid reader of DieHard GameFan magazine since inception. When ECM took over as Editor-In-Chief, I was immediately drawn to his entertaining writing style and intense rants on a variety of subjects (Final Fantasy VIII of course).
As video games were my primary hobby / passion at the time, ECM was no less than a celebrity in my mind.
In 2000, GameFan magazine met an untimely demise. However, via my good friend NFG, I learned that ECM was teaming up with the owner of VideoGameDepot.com to start up a new magazine called "GameGO!".
The GameGO! site also had an active message board and chat room. I got to interact with ECM directly for the first time!
When GameGO! magazine launched, they were looking for a story for their "Don't Call Them Hardcore" section. I submitted my Mustang GT covered in video game company decals and it made the cut:
Much to my surprise, ECM and I hit it off as friends afterwards. We had a lot in common: "Van Hagar", a passion for video games, we both suffered from insomnia and hayfever, our fathers both left when we were young, toy collecting, right wing politics, lifting weights / fitness, fiercely loyal to friends etc.
In September 2002, I had a painful breakup with a girlfriend of four years. I sent an email out to all my friends and family letting them know what happened and that I was "hurting". The next day, I got a phone call.
"Hey, it's Eric."
"Holy shit", I thought to myself. "I'm actually talking to ECM!"
From there on, our communication was not just limited to IRC / ICQ etc, we would chat regularly on the phone.
In early 2003, I had expressed the intense desire to attend the E3. As it was limited to industry-only, I had no chance of getting in. Eric said it would be easy to obtain credentials via a fake magazine article, so he helped me get what I would need to gain access to the E3:
Eric offered to let me crash on his couch instead of paying for a hotel. I get to attend the E3 and meet ECM in person? Hell yeah!
Eric lived in an upscale apartment on Argyle Ave in Hollywood CA. His brother, Terence, was his roommate. At this point, he was doing strategy guides for Prima Games.
Meeting Eric in person and going to the E3 was amazing enough but I had no idea what others joys were in store for me over the next four days:
- On the second day of the E3, I got to join Eric and the entire staff of GameFan for lunch! I met Jay Puryear, Matt Van Stone and so many others! The stories I heard! (my only regret was not having the courage to ask for a group picture). In typical Eric fashion, he picked up the tab for everyone, over $1,000!
- Eric introduced me to a number of restaurants for the first time including Krispy Kreme, Woodranch, Killer Shrimp, In And Out etc
- We went to an LA Fitness where he proudly wore a GW Bush T-Shirt just to trigger liberals
- Eric had a very impressive video game, toy and arcade machine collection... so much that it inspired me to do the same:
He also had a 42" 1080p plasma TV... remember, this was a big deal in 2003. The picture quality blew me away!
In 2004, my favorite band, Dream Theater, was doing their first "meet and greet" show at the Pantages Theater, literally, a 10 minute walk from Eric's place! He graciously offered to let me stay at his place again with the caveat that he wouldn't be able to hang out as much as he was in the middle of writing another strategy guide for Prima.
It was March 24, 2004. That morning, I played the Japanese version of F-Zero GX on his plasma TV (now a whopping 50 inches)! What I didn't notice was that it was a NTSC-U GameCube, with a NTSC-U memory card plugged in.
That night, I attended the Dream Theater concert and met the band, one of the highlights of my life, to say the least!
After it was over, Eric picked me up and we went out for a late night dinner. Over dinner, I discovered that I accidentally erased his Level 200 Phantasy Star Online II save when I played F-Zero GX! He was not happy and hilariously held it over my head for many years after.
In his own words:
"Another dark moment being when you overwrote my GameCube memory card, consigning my Level 200 Phantasy Star Online characters to oblivion--I still hear their silent screams when warm summer nights waft me back to that dark day on wings of ice-cold dread."
"I still tell people the story about the day that the Canadian came and wiped out my 500 hour PSO save. You're part of my personal mythology, congratulations!"
For that act alone, he should thrown this lowly Canuck out into the streets of Hollywood. Instead, despite being in the middle of a strategy guide crunch, he still made the time to:
- Take me to The Matrix Reloaded movie
- Visit Santa Monica with his girlfriend at the time
- Go out for dinner at Woodranch once again
It was another incredible experience that wouldn't have been possible without Eric's generosity.
This would be the last time I ever saw him in person. By this time, I considered him to be like an older brother. Back when I first read his articles in GameFan, I would have never dreamed to have formed this kind of bond with anyone, let alone someone I saw initially as a celebrity.
We kept in regular contact until 2007 when it seemed like he dropped off the face of the earth.
I reached out to his brother and he said that he going through a rough time. I offered myself as a sounding board without judgement but ultimately respected his privacy.
In 2010, Eric resurfaced and we picked up right where we left off. By this time, it was apparent that Eric was into politics and even taught me about the political spectrum, the fake news networks, DC swamp etc.
Although it only came around every four years, one of my favorite events with Eric was the USA Presidential Election Night, I would have tears in my eyes with laughter from his witty comments.
He had an entertaining fascination with Canada. Some of this included:
- Ketchup Chips
- Pop vs Soda
- Candy Bar vs Chocolate Bar
- Bagged milk vs cartoned milk
Something I haven't mentioned yet is that Eric was very popular with women. I saw firsthand women throwing themselves at him. But he never sought empty relationships or one-night-stands; he wanted to get married and have a family. Because of this, I saw him often frustrated at being able to find a quality woman that wasn't a head case. So it was my pleasure to see in 2014 that he had finally found the woman of his dreams. Ironically, she lived in Canada!
Eric and I would keep in regular contact via Facebook Messenger, Discord, or his personal msssage board, A Board With No Name. His rapier sharp wit can still be found there in abundance.
Eric's final communication to me was on October 29, 2017 via email:
Eric: Are you alive?
Me: Absolutely my friend : )
My job (a temporary position) is currently forcing me to work long hours so it’s essentially been work and sleep only lately.
Then we take possession of the new house in January.
Between tapped energy levels and my extreme "change saturation” levels, I haven’t had much time for entertaining political chat on Discord lately.
I’ve barely been playing MGS V! (that says a lot)
I’m hoping life will return to normal in February.
Say “hi” to everyone for me, eh?
Eric: K, cool man—just wanted to make sure nothing had gone terribly awry!
Unfortunately, on January 13, 2018, things went terribly awry for him.
Eric's death had a profound impact on me. It made me re-evaluate my own life / inevitable death and I became receptive to having a child of my own. On January 25, 2019, my son, James, was born.
Looking back, it's amazing to see Eric's impact on my life. He taught me so much about politics, video games, women, psychology and so much more. I will always cherish the two times I visited him in person. He has such a positive influence on my life and I am forever grateful.
If there's one theme throughout my friendship with Eric, it would be his heart of gold and generosity. These days, whenever I'm in a tough situation, I ask myself "WWED" (what would Eric do). I've also tried to be a more kind and generous person, shovelling my neighbor's sidewalk, random acts of kindness etc.
Thank you Eric, my brother, for being who you were, doing what you did and sharing it all with us. I will never forget you.
|So it comes that I must go
And leave this world behind
And I will see my father's eyes
'Cause now I know that he was right
We must find our own way
And we will meet on the other side
And, oh, through the flood and through the fire
And, oh, through the tears of our goodbyes
And, oh, like the wind upon the water
Comes a love that never dies
You can find a place that's higher
Though the storms are on the rise
Seek your hearts deepest desire
For a love that never dies
We can make it through together
As the dawn begins to rise
We can pass into forever
With a love that never dies
To the river
I am going
Coming cross the great divide
Mourn not for me
For I am entering
To a love that never dies
God’s love never dies
- Neal Morse