Bill Kunkel (July 21, 1950 – September 4th, 2011)
I hate writing things like this, especially about someone that I not only looked up to but had the opportunity to meet, shake the hand of and learn from.
I came home the other night to the knowledge that Bill Kunkel passed away. For anyone who might not know, he is literally the reason this industry exists. He co-founded the original gaming magazine, Electronic Games, back in the early 1980s. He, along with Arnie Katz and Joyce Worley-Katz, created the entire idea of a "video game journalist." On top of that, he was involved in various aspects of the industry up until his death today; he worked as a game designer, a strategy guide writer, even teaching game design for the University of Nevada. He went down with the ship that was Tips & Tricks Magazine, and wrote for more websites than I can name.
As a life-long geek, he worked as a writer and cartoonist, and wrote a book of the exploits in his career titled "Confessions of The Game Doctor" (referring to his handle "The Game Doctor" that developed over his tenure in the industry). I was able to meet him a few times at Classic Gaming Expos past, where he gave keynotes on not only what he did in the early days of his writing, but how he got the idea to write about games, what fascinated him about the medium, and how he kept up-to-date in everything he did. At the time I met him I had developed a small following as a retro-game reviewer on my message boards, getting a solid number of hits for my random posts. He signed my copy of his book, shook my hand and I told him that I was starting out, that I wanted to make this a profession myself. Immediately after I'd said "I've gotten a pretty good number of hits, and people seem to like my stuff," he said the perfect thing to encourage me further.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" And with the biggest grin in the world, that helped me get to the point I'm at today, and with the inspiration to keep up my work with a smile of my own.
Bill Kunkel was a major influence, not just in creating this whole banaza but in shaping me personally. He was a nice man, a powerful personality and one smart sonuvabitch. My heart is very, very heavy as I write this, and in the deepest way, he will be missed. Thank you, Game Doctor; you gave me my life, and I can never thank you enough.