by Nick @ Segabastard

The passing of a giant.

I learned recently, and sadly, that ECM of GameFan-at-its-peak has recently passed.

I never knew Mr. Mylonas personally, but I was a huge fan of his game writing. He was thoroughly honest and never once pretended to be some squishy, unbiased blob. This was refreshing in a business where nearly everyone pretends he's inhumanly neutral on something as inconsequential as the enjoyment of videogames.

I subscribed to GameFan before it closed, and I subscribed to its ill-fated spiritual successor, GameGO, after that. This was some time around the turn of the century. Mr. Mylonas was the reason I subscribed; while he worked with some other charismatic writers, his involvement and leadership were what made those outlets shine.

For example, GameFan took some heat over its review(s) of Final Fantasy 8. ECM in particular eviscerated the game, saying he "despised FFVII" and he liked "FFVIII even less." At the time, anything less than "perfect" for Final Fantasy was heresy; GameSpot called VIII "the greatest game ever to bear the name [Final Fantasy]." This level of criticism flowed from only one pen. And true to form, when FFIX was released in an obvious effort to return the series to its roots, ECM praised it. Biases are fine; and when we know them of an author, they make his work more useful.

The blowback to the condemnation of FF8 was predictable, and Mr. Mylonas wrote a classic editorial in the following issue, October 1999. In it, he responded to the common criticism from idiots: "Don't you have any sense of journalism?:"

...the short and simple answer to that is, "No, I guess not." ... The rest of my colleagues at the other mags, websites, etc. are best-case fanboys, and worst-case wannabe journalists (and believe me, I have no problem being labeled a fanboy). In fact, the word "journalist" around the GF offices is routinely scoffed at-even by the guys with journalism degrees.

There was no other voice like his. All of GameFan's contemporaries were try-hard nerds wishing the world would take them seriously as journalists. To this day, they're seated at the kids' table, waiting endlessly for the holiday to come where they can eat with the grown-ups. ECM saw through that nonsense.

I could go on and on. GameFan, under ECM's watch, was the only game mag or site that wasn't shitting on the Dreamcast. While Next-Gen magazine ran a hundred covers condemning SEGA's machine, and Gamer's Republic declared that no console would ever be as powerful as the PlayStation 2, GameFan actually took time to look at the games. Why did Dead or Alive 2 run better on the Dreamcast? Why was the launch lineup of the PS2 so painfully bad?

It can't help but sound like damning a man with faint praise, but Eric C. Mylonas was by far the finest professional game writer we've ever had. No one would think it would take much courage to be honest and adrift from the herd about dumb videogames. But if it were so easy, how come so few did it?

If I carry on about the kudos he deserves in that arena, it'll sound as if the man's life was defined by petty videogame nonsense, and it certainly wasn't. His passing is tragic for his friends and family, and the loss of a great author is sad for anyone who enjoyed his work.


Nick @ Segabastard

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