(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the September 2006 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.)
College Park, MD 20740
September 1, 2006
There are many former and present GameCola writers who could be considered the greatest of all time. With alum such as Jenna Ogilvie and Neal Iannone, and with staff such as Eric Regan and Zack Huffman, it’d be nigh-on impossible for one lone man to figure out who, exactly, is the best. And yet, one lone man took this challenge, and his name is Paul Franzen.
He, of course, gave up the challenge quickly, allowing instead for his dearest Readers to vote in a “Best Staff Member EVER” tournament, held this past summer on the GameCola forums. And his dearest Readers voted Matt “the g50” Gardner as the greatest of all time.
“It feels pretty normal,” the humble Matt said, when asked about his accomplishment, “as I am very used to being the greatest in all things.”
Matt Gardner kicked off his run with GameCola way back in April of 2002, back when the ‘Cola’s very first issue was released. In that very first issue he wrote the very first Your Top 10 Favorite Videogames, in which he claimed Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals to be his all-time favorite—an opinion that still stands true today. “Great story,” he said in his column, “great characters, great battle system (no trying to run away 800 times before you are successful), no random encounters in dungeons, capsule monsters to feed and raise, two bonus game modes, the list goes on and on…”
He also debuted his “…of the Month” column in our very first issue, taking the time to talk about another great Web site, Dragon-Warrior.com, which he said to be “one of the best, if not the best, Dragon Warrior sites out there.”
At the time, Matt had the distinction of being the only GameCola staff member who didn’t go to my high school—he lived in Maryland, while the rest of us, amassed over the following several months, were all straight outta SoJerz. As such he missed out on all the real-life staff meetings we were holding in the cafeteria after school at the time, something he no doubt laments immensely.
In March of 2003, GameCola was hurting—one of our top reviewests, Doug O’Neil, was gone, and we needed someone to step up to the plate. That someone was Matt Gardner, joining our review team with a piece on .hack//INFECTION. Matt gave the game an overall score of 9 (still one of our highest scores ever), saying it was “”a game like any other game, if any other game was different from any other game.” He continued to review games for us until January of 2006, at which point we weren’t hurting quite so much; now, however, to satiate the demands of our faithful Readers, he’s come out of retirement to at least pen one every other month.
Later that year, GameCola was once again hurting, as staff member Brian Wolf, creator and author of GC’s interactive fiction “The Gates of Life,” left. And once again Matt Gardner was there to the rescue, rejuvenating the column into one of today’s most popular features.
In the years that followed Matt proved to be one of the only stable elements in a turbulent—some could call it carbonated—‘Cola. Writers were joining and quitting at a breakneck pace (some staying only as long as one issue before leaving), and through it all, Matt was just about the only one who was able to keep up pace. He wasn’t always on time, but he always, at the very least, existed, and he was always available to do some last-minute proofing when an issue was ready to go to press. For helping so much with the editing Matt was even given a promotion, becoming our “Associate Editor” at the tail-end of 2004.
And Matt even added to the stability in September of 2004 when his cousin, “Captain” Eric Regan, debuted on-staff as our graphics editor. Matt also had both his girlfriend and his cat join in early 2005, and his mom has even been known to chime in from time to time with letters about how proud she is of her little boy for being such a great writer.
A year and a half of stability and great writing brings us to today, where he has since been promoted to GameCola’s “Executive Editor,” which means he helps out with editing, aids in important decision-making, and sends out “The E-Mail” when a GameCola writer’s not up to snuff and needs to be told so. He’s also still writing “…of the Month,” still writing “The Gates of Life” and still writing his reviews, in addition to everything else he contributes to GameCola on a daily basis.
Matt’s been with GameCola for longer than any other staff member, and in the last four-and-a-half years he’s contributed over a hundred articles—more than any other staff member, and more than over half our staff members combined, depending on which half you choose. He is who you, the Readers, voted as the greatest staff member of all time, which means he absolutely is.
Or is he? Do you think someone’s better? Do you, perhaps, think Neal Iannone should’ve won, or Zack Huffman should’ve won, or that Paul Franzen himself would’ve won if he hadn’t left himself off the ballot? This, right here, is exactly what we’ve got that comment box at the end of this article for—post a comment affirming the Readers’ decision, or post with your choice for the greatest of all time, and tell Matt why, exactly, he doesn’t deserve this great honor.
And enjoy this latest issue! We’ve got a heckuva line-up for you this month—I’m tackling The Gates of Life this time around, and I’m telling you right now, at least one person dies. Lizo’s captaining Eric’s column, brinigng us a unique dose of her “Super Toes,” while Eric’s off reviewing the latest version of Dragon’s Lair. We’ve also got Zack giving out videogame-related advice, Matthew Fraser reviewing one of the most unique-looking games I’ve ever seen, and Terrence depicting one man’s perils in The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, and I doubt you’ll wanna miss ANY of that.
Enjoy our back-to-monthly format, and I’ll see you again in October!
editor in chief