BlbecekBobecek / Member

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Score (aka the dawn of Czech gaming journalism)

It's been a while since I last posted a blog here, but it was all about the specifics of gaming in post-communist country. Lets now look at the beginning of Czech gaming journalism, because I had the luck to be part of it (as a very devoted reader) and it was very exciting part of my gaming life.

The first real gaming magazine in Czech Republic was called Excalibur and although it was very low-profile, it quickly grew every month (like everything related to computers in Czech Republic after the fall of the iron courtain). Among others, two very important young men were part of the Excalibur crew - they called themselves Andrew and Ice.

In January 1994, those two guys left Excalibur and started their own new magazine: Score. And thats where it started for me. I got into Score with its third issue (March 1994) and stayed there for more than ten years. Andrew and Ice unlike most other reviewers back then, had the advantage to have genuine talent for writing. Their reviews were exciting and extremely fun to read (for example Andrew wrote in the original Doom review that the game feels like "sliding a grater to a iodine pool") and I'm really considering that I start translating the most legendary ones to English, so you might see them in this blog eventually.

Anyway, my point was that Andrew and Ice turned nothing into the best selling PC magazine in Czech Republic to date and established the first generation of gamers here (and thats no small thing - for example Czech gamers today still use terms Andrew or Ice used first for various aspects of gaming). Back then when we, their audience, were but excited kids, some considered them demigods. What they wrote in their reviews was sacred. Should they say a game was great, it had great sales here ensured. That went on for several years until they both quit Score and started a porn related internet website that will probably make them good money until end of their days.

But they did a lot for Czech gaming, thats without any doubt...

How I got to gaming (aka the fall of iron curtain)

This is my first blog post so I think it makes sense to write about how it all begun for me. I come from Czech Republic, thats a country in the heart of europe (just north of Austria, east of Germany and south of Poland) and a member state of EU. Back in 80s, the map looked different though and we were the western part of the Eastern block with iron curtain around our borders. My father was IT guy even back then, but it was not much about gaming. One of my first computer-related memories is when father brought home our first computer and it had a badge with something in azbuca (the Russian font) written on it. I as a kid noticed that the badge doesnt quite fit there and I peeled it off. I CLEARLY remember what was under it, although I didnt know what it meant back then - there was ZX Spectrum logo. Thats how soviet computer industry looked like - they bought tons of ZX Spectrums and sticked some soviet badge on it.

My memory isnt clear about the games we played on ZX Spectrum, so lets fast forward to the year 1989 when iron curtain fell. I was 6 years old but the times were so exciting for us that I have plenty of memories from then. Father (as one of the few citizens of ex-communist countries that actually knew something about computers) started a business importing PCs from Austria and Germany. Every time when he returned from those countries, he brought tons of stuff that were non-existnant in socialism (funny stickers, LEGO, pens of various shapes with various advertisments - stuff that we have everywhere around us now but was something unique and actually a symbol of freedom for us back than, because everything was only grey and ugly during socialism - my grandmom even collected old Fanta and Coca-Cola cans) and also - of course - computer games. Computer games were organic part of the excitement. Just like colorful old cans in my grannys kitchen, just like funny stickers sticked everywhere in my room. Its hard to explain - it was like a prisoner that spends all his life in a prison with grey concrete everywhere and then he gets out and runs on a meadow. It was the feeling that you can breath finally. Even I felt it as a kid and it was even more so for my parents. But we are getting off topic - back to gaming!

The computer boom was huge there and the business went well (I remember that 286 PC costed more than a new car here in the first years). I got my hands on plenty of awesome games - the ones I remember the most were games like Prehistorik, Prince of Persia (such a great game - I returned to it recently and instantly finished it, finding out that I still perfectly remember every single level), Test Drive, Barbarian, Stellar 7, etc.

Then when I grew a bit older, I fell in love with strategy games. UFO: Enemy Unknown (and in my case even more X-Com: TFTD) were cutting edge and I played them like hell (UFO was also the very first game that scared the hell out of me - I didnt breathe during enemy turn when the "hidden movement" sign was on screen and all you heard were steps of aliens and doors opening, etc.), Warlords 2, later on the first Warcraft. Those were games that formed my mind, I even learned english thanks to them.

Another genre I loved from childhood were RPGs (we simply called them "dungeons" back then) and Dungeon Master as well as Dungeon Master 2 were the most treasured games in this genre (DM2 was critically acclaimed in reviews in Czech Republic and even referred to as the best RPG of all times - I was pretty surprised when I later found out that it was not recieved so positively in US).

Well, thats about it. Im gaming since then, these are my roots as a gamer.