The Archive Dive: GameCola’s 10th Anniversary Edition

Back despite popular demand, it's another installment of "The Archive Dive," the column that was critically panned last time because I ignored the advice of literally every reader and staff member on

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GC StaffBack despite popular demand, it’s another installment of “The Archive Dive,” the column that was critically panned last time because I ignored the advice of literally every reader and staff member on the planet and went ahead with digging up the embarrassingly crude cave scribbles that constituted GameCola’s very first articles. (I didn’t think they were that bad. I also didn’t think the Mega Man PC game was that bad, so you know you can trust my opinions.) Here we are nearly a year later, and GameCola’s Dictator-for-Life Editor-in-Chie—nah, Dictator-for-Life Paul Franzen has encouraged and collaborated with me to celebrate the tenth anniversary of these articles no one wants to remember with the column everyone wants to forget.

Welcome to Bizarro World.

With the word of GameCola’s 10th Anniversary 10-Hour Podcast event spreading across the Internet like wildfire in a vacuum, it seemed like a nice gesture to provide our listeners with some helpful background on who these podcast participants are. While you might recognize, say, me, as The Guy Who Wrote The Article You’re Reading Right Now, certain GameCola alums and sporadically participatory current staff members might be a mystery to anyone who thinks Loafy Carl is a brand of novelty bread. Thus, I have taken it upon myself (with Paul’s assistance) to assemble a short list of some of the most memorable and well-written articles by the delinquents who think we’ll welcome them with open arms on this podcast after months, if not years, of being regular model citizens instead of writing for GC. (We will.)

Beware—Paul and I are tag-teaming this article, so we may switch off without any warning at all! You’ll recognize Paul’s style pretty quickly, though—he’s using a new technique called “humor.”

Brian Vanek (2004)


Spearheading the effort to give our columns titles that are incredibly awkward to abbreviate, Brian gave us several short installments of “You Learn Something New Every Play” (NASDAQ:YLSNEP), which is the closest to edutainment we’ll ever come. Also specializing in reviews of SNES, N64, and PlayStation 1-2 games, Brian’s style was casual, concise, and direct. Some may even describe it as poetic, but certainly all can describe it as “words.”

Colin Greenhalgh (2008-Present)


While his initial contributions to the site were primarily solo endeavors focusing on current-gen games, “Cuddly” Colin has since taken on a more collaborative role on staff, participating jointly in podcasts and head-to-head “Versus Mode” debates, and providing artwork for us poor schmoes who, when handed a felt-tipped magic marker, are somehow more capable of drawing our own blood than basic geometric shapes.

Eric Regan (2004-Present)

ericxHaving the distinction of being the first person on this list whose last name I know how to pronounce, “Captain” Eric Raygun is one of GameCola’s longest-running columnists, offering up advice with his “Cheat Codes for Life,” co-commentating on digital wrestling matches with Paul Franzen, and demonstrating an unparalleled dedication to the site: when his “Super Thumbs” got worn out from reviewing old videogames, Captain Eric didn’t give up—he went out and bought a shiny new pair of PSYCHIC THUMBS just so he could continue rating a new generation of games, and also do whatever else it is you humans do with thumbs.

Kevin Leacock (2003-Present)


Kevin’s early contributions to the site included hijacking GameCola staff meetings held in the cafeteria of Shawnee High School and, if memory serves, stealing the digital camera we brought in to take staff pictures and shoving it down his pants. (Luckily for all, the camera was not turned on at this point.) He has since gone on to play arguably more useful roles: building our forums back when we had forums, building our chat room back when we had a chat room, and building our entire website, back when we had a website. Right now his primary function is to fix the website when Paul breaks something, although he’s also been known to write about computer games and dog genitalia from time to time.

Lianna Crosby (Gaughan) (2002-2003)


Lianna was one of the original seven GameCola staff members, alongside Paul Franzen, Matt Gardner, and a bunch of other people we don’t talk about anymore because they didn’t agree to do to the podcast. “Games for the Casual Gamer” was her signature contribution to GameCola: Season 1, a spiritual predecessor to Vangie Ridgaway’s “Gamer Girlfriend” both in concept and in practice: Lianna was dating Paul Franzen (a popular hazing ritual in GameCola’s early years) until her departure from the staff.

Elizabeth “Lizo” Medina-Gray (2005-Present)


Sometimes an editor, sometimes a reviewer, and forever the developer of GameCola’s very own playable point-and-click adventure, testgame.exe, Lizo is married to at least one of the two guys writing this article. Though rare—ow, Paul, stop hitting me—though rarely appearing in the spotlight these days, Lizo’s cheerful presence can still be felt in other people’s columns, the occasional podcast, and your own kitchen, behind the baking soda. I’d also mention an article about how she and Paul recorded a video playthrough of Day of the Tentacle, but I’ve been waiting three years for them to notice that the guy who normally writes about YouTube videos (me) is spoiler-phobic and still hasn’t played it.

Matt Gardner (2002-Present)


Paul Franzen and Matt “Chelsea” Gardner. The OGs of GameCola. (We’re assuming here that “OG” stands for “Original Gamer.”) They started it all, back in 2002—Paul with his reviews and “Dear Readers” columns, and Matt with “… of the Month,” a monthly opinion feature that he started in the very first issue of GameCola and has kept up with for all these past ten years, except for very minor transgressions where he’s gone six or eight months without writing it. The Matt Gardner of today is perhaps best known for his reviews of  games in which people [censored] and [censored] each other, sometimes with [censored], but over the years he’s had his hands in almost every area of the site—to the point where, in late 2009, his hands actually fell off. He now dashes out his articles exclusively with his eyeballs, which is why it takes him so long to write them.

Rick L (2008-2009)


What can we say about Rick L that hasn’t already been said? …Quite a lot, actually. Fun fact: Rick L holds the world record for speed-skating while wearing an antelope tied to his head. Fun fact: Rick L is actually an alien. We made those up (…or did we?), but that’s because Rick is such a mystery to us! He wrote reviews for us for nearly a year, and we barely learned a thing about him, except that he didn’t like Home Alone for the NES, and that he did like the last two Phoenix Wright games. …Fun fact: Rick must be an all-right guy.

Shawn Sackenheim (2006)


Shawn holds the distinction of being the only person ever forced into retirement from GameCola due to personal injury. After a stellar six-month run as “guy who wanted to be a robot” and “guy who peed himself while playing Zork,” [citation needed] Shawn had to leave the site because his wrists were in such bad shape that just writing for GameCola caused him more pain than even reading GameCola. The current state of his wrists are unknown, but thankfully, you don’t need healthy hands in order to cast pods. At least, not the kind of cast-poding we’re doing; I don’t know what you weirdos get up to.

Steve Hamner (2006-2007)


Possessing an uncanny knack for thoughtful videogame analysis as well as intact wrists, hands, and thumbs, Steve is overly qualified for whatever it is he’s doing now. A prolific writer by pre-Matt Jonas standards, you could count on Steve for engaging ongoing coverage of the unpronounceable places he’d visited in Final Fantasy XI and solid reviews of modern titles from a variety of genres including, but not limited to, videogames.

Stuart Gipp (2004-2005; 2009-Present)


Stu Gipp (pronounced “Gipp”) was British before it was hip to be British. Based on what I have just been told by our Public Relations people, who value our strong friendship with the British, this would suggest that Stu has existed since the Dawn of Time. If a farm could produce poultry at the rate Stu produces new columns, there would be a chicken in every pot, toaster oven, blender, driveway, and paragraph by the end of this sentence chicken.

Zack Huffman (2005-2007)


A veritable GameCola Success Story, after he left the staff in 2007 Zack parlayed his experience terrorizing Catholics writing about videogames and playing Madden 2006 into a career as an actual respectable sports journalist. (This is why you don’t see him too much around here anymore.) Throughout his tenure with GC he gave us advice about how to get our sig-figs into gaming, tortured himself by watching movies based on games, and exposed the virtues of actually going outside for a change, instead of sitting around playing videogames like a drunken piano bum. A number of years ago Zack was voted by the GameCola readers as the greatest GC staff member of all time, although this was back in the dark days before Nathaniel Hoover I’m not letting you get away with that, Nathaniel.

Zach Rich (2008-2010; 2012-Present)


With the ever-present threat of the MOOOOOOOOON PEOPLE looming over him, Zach (spelled with an “h,” before we realized we could differentiate him from Zack Huffman by his last name) is by far one of the only staff members to ever stage an April Fools’ takeover of the entire site. Theatrical, eclectic, and unafraid to get up close and personal with the reader, Zach is the ideal person on which to end this article, because alphabetically, there’s nobody left.

4 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 104 votes, average: 8.25 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
Nathaniel Hoover is almost certainly GameCola's most verbose staff member, and arguably the most eclectic. As administrator of the GameCola YouTube channel (GCDotNet), occasional contributor to every article category on the site, and staff editor, you're pretty much stuck with him wherever you go. Sorry.


  1. So not _everyone_ here was able to make it to the recording. Oops. You can’t see it, but in tiny print in this article it says “podcast line-up schedule to change.” I swear it’s there.

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