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WHAT IS VIDEO-GAME EPHEMERA?

Merriam-Webster defines “ephemera” as “paper items that were originally meant to be discarded after use.” That’s a pretty good description of the video-game-related flyers, photos and miscellaneous documents that I started to accumulate in the 1980s...well, except for the “discarded after use” part. The definition goes on to identify these items as “collectibles,” and while I won’t go as far as to suggest that they have monetary value, I have indeed been “collecting” them.

My name is Chris Bieniek. In 1975, I played my first video game at a Chicago-area
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restaurant (I think it was Gun Fight). In 1982, I bought my first video-game magazine (the September ’82 issue of Electronic Games). By the following summer, I was sneaking into the Consumer Electronics Show to check out new games, using an ID badge that my father obtained through his job at the University of Illinois. Starting in 1989, I was able to gain access to video-game trade shows as a legitimate member of the press, having lucked into a freelance writer position with VideoGames & Computer Entertainment magazine. In 1992, I moved to Los Angeles and became a full-time game magazine
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editor. In addition to VG&CE, I worked on the official TurboGrafx-16 magazine TurboPlay, VG&CE’s successor VideoGames, the spinoff Tips & Tricks and its own spinoff, the Tips & Tricks Codebook.

And all this time, I’ve been saving stuff. Much of it was kept out of the trash simply because the packrat in me couldn’t bear to throw it out. The collection would prove to be useful at times, even though it was never organized in any meaningful way. If I was writing an article and I needed a promotional flyer for an unreleased game, an obscure press release or a photo of Michael Jackson holding a Sega Genesis controller, I could usually find one. That is, if I was willing to dig in my file cabinets for a few hours...or weekends.

I rediscovered a lot of these
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materials while packing them up in boxes just before I moved back to Chicago in 2007. I eventually decided that it would be fun to share some of this ephemera with other video-game fans. This site is the result. If you’re the grammar police, please forgive me if I extend my definition of “ephemera” to include the occasional YouTube video or MP3 audio track. As the years pass, the VHS tapes and audio cassettes in my video-game memorabilia collection are definitely approaching “ephemeral” status, and this is as good a place as any to preserve them.

If you need to contact me for any reason, I have a Gmail address in my name, without any spaces or special characters.

A lot of these materials have not been seen for many years. I hope you enjoy reading the articles as much as I enjoy writing them.

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© 2015 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.