['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day..]


One of the (many, many) things that make me feel old these days is looking at letter sections in old video game magazines. Letter writers had panache back then. It felt much more like a community, which makes sense because for a lot of readers, this really was the only community for their chosen hobby. That spirit is largely gone from modern print mags, an unavoidable byproduct of being able to yell at people all you want to on message boards and get much more gratification out of it.

I don't think many US game mags had very strong letter sections. That was much more of a UK mag thing, where letter pages were often five or six pages and arguments between readers would sometimes extend on for months.

Nintendo Power's "Player's Pulse" throughout the '80s and '90s is memorable, though, for the sheer goofy enthusiasm bursting out of the pages. You had pudgy kids taking pictures of themselves in front of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, sending in Zelda-themed rap lyrics, showing off their best magic-marker envelope illustrations, and generally being goofy kids. That, and asking girls out.

This page, from Volume 70 (March 1995) of NP, features an Okahoman boy asking a girl out -- I blocked out their names, but you can look it up yourself on whatever copy (physical or digital) you have handy. Back in February, someone on a message board thought this message was charming enough that he decided to track down the girl on the Internet and see whether the date proposal -- which, keep in mind, was reprinted approximately 1.3 million times, Nintendo Power's average circulation in 1995 -- actually went anywhere.

What happened?

Remarkably, as it turns out, although the girl did subscribe to NP at the time, she overlooked the letters page completely and didn't notice. Still, the pair were friends regardless, although the relationship didn't last long and, as the girl said back in February this year, the guy had some issues to deal with:

"Our friendship was actually really interesting. We met at school - a school I had gone to my entire childhood. He had moved to our small town to live with his aunt, and talk about two people being complete opposites. I was a shy country girl who sorta kept to herself and he was this outspoken rebel without a cause with shoulder-length red hair, ice blue eyes, and grunge-style clothes. I liked country music, he made fun of it (along with what he termed us as "hicks") but he made me laugh and we became really great friends.

He'd had a very rough life and had a past full of emotional baggage, which may have been one of the reasons I felt so drawn to him - I am a helper, I like to be depended on (I am currently working on my master's degree in professional counseling). Anyway, I remember one day he gave me a letter and demanded that I not read it until I got home - I rode the bus to my home in the country, he walked home to where he was living - but he stayed right there until I got on the bus.

Well, long story short, in the letter he expressed that he was planning on taking his own life. I got home in hysterical tears. My mom and step sister drove me back to town and I stood there banging on his door, screaming at the top of my lungs, it seemed like forever but was in all actuality just a few minutes. But he answered the door sleepy eyed saying he had been taking a nap to which I screamed at him for doing and not answering the phone and making me think he'd done what he said he'd do in the letter and leaving me alone without my best friend and.....on and on and on as you can imagine. Anyway, he was ok and I was too after a while!

We had a pretty close friendship, he just not giving a hoot about other people or what they had to say and me ready to whoop whoever had something negative to say about my best friend. In fact, my first detention was telling a teacher off who sided with the jocks who were making fun of him and giving me a hard time for standing up for him.

It's funny looking back now but sad that time has taken so much - I don't even remember the day he moved but I do remember how sad I was to lose such a sweet soul, no matter how misunderstood and misguided lol he was the world to me back then and now you know our story."

The woman later married another person, presumably not a Nintendo Power reader, and they've been together for ten years.

All in all, a touching story of mid-'90s teen love. Now I just wish I knew what happened to "Ace Ebb".

[Kevin Gifford owns over 8000 video-game and computer magazines. Despite this, he is capable of sustaining a conversation with a woman for at least three minutes per go. He runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things, and in his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]