[The Video Game History Foundation has been helping Game Informer magazine to organize and archive its collection of over 26 years of rare video game ephemera! Occasionally we’ll spotlight our findings here. The following was originally posted at Game Informer, and is being re-posted here for posterity.]
Game Informer has made no secret of The Vault, its collection of over twelve thousand video games from around the world, going all the way back to the industry’s roots. It’s a massive, labyrinthine room filled with floor-to-high-ceiling shelves, each of them crammed with what seems to be at least one copy of every game, for every system imaginable, that has ever made its way into the office. And that’s great…if you’re into that sort of thing.
As for me, I’m more interested in the weird stuff. I run a nonprofit called The Video Game History Foundation, and what we’re focused on is making sure video game’s more ephemeral material – advertising, promotional goodies, vintage slides and photographs, behind-the-scenes stuff, etc. – is documented and preserved alongside the games themselves. Which is why I was thrilled to be able to dig into what Andrew Reiner once described as the Vault’s “less sexy counterpart”: GI’s dusty old filing cabinets.
These filing cabinets are filled with press releases, promotional flyers, film, and other material that was sent to the magazine going all the way back to its 1991 inception and ending somewhere in the early 2000s, when companies started e-mailing this stuff instead. It is an almost perfectly-preserved tomb of video game public relations throughout the 1990s – in fact, one of the four cabinets had to be drilled open for me, its caregivers having lost the key ages ago. For a video game “archaeologist” like myself, it is a goldmine.
It’s going to take a long, long time to document everything that’s in there (we’re going in order by publisher name, and we’re still in the A’s… ), but last time I was in there, I spent some me-time going through and cherry-picking material related to unreleased games for the good ol’ 8-bit NES, a subject matter I’m particularly fascinated by. I thought it might be fun to share some highlights from my findings here.