Bill Kunkel – The Game Doctor

Occasionally while surfing the web, I come across something I wish I hadn’t read. This happened to me today when I discovered that Bill Kunkel – The Game Doctor passed away in early September. Bill was one of the founders of Electronic Games Magazine – and his Game Doctor column earned him the moniker that he used long after the magazine ceased publication. Last year, I got around to picking up his autobiography “Confessions of the Game Doctor.” It was a fascinating look into the early days of gaming and game related publishing. I enjoyed it and dropped him an e-mail telling him so. To my delight, he responded and indicated we might have a chance to meet at the 2010 Classic Gaming Expo. I attended, but never ran into him – which was disappointing because I was hoping to have him autograph my book. I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet Mr. Kunkel, but I’m very grateful for all the hours of enjoyment and enlightenment he provided.  Confessions of the Game Doctor is available from Rolenta Press.

Electronic Games Magazine Changed My Life

My life changed when I first saw Electronic Games Magazine sitting on the stand at the local King Soopers supermarket. My mother indulged me in a single issue, and eventually in a subscription. Perhaps she thought it would be cheaper for me to read about video games than to pester her to purchase them. This wasn’t the best tactic on her part, because my eyes were quickly opened to a whole new world of gaming outside the Atari 2600 my friends and I each owned. I learned a little more about the Intellivision, the Odyssey, and eventually the Holy Grail – the Vectrex.

Electronic Games Magazine was a spinoff periodical of Video Magazine. It was edited at first by Frank Laney Jr. and then helmed by the trio of Bill Kunkel, Arnie Katz, and Joyce Worley. Early issues were light on content and talked of the systems already out. Eventually, they’d offer previews of new games to come. As I revisited the magazines as I got older, I realized that many of the previews and even reviews were written by authors who had no access to the cartridges themselves. As the magazine matured, it offered more serious criticisms based on actual experience with the games.

The photos show the cover of the 1st ever Electronic Games Magazine and a fun reader survey that was included within. I’ve also attached a scan of what I believe to be the last issue of the magazine’s initial run before it was resurrected in the 1990s. In the days before the internet, Electronic Games magazine served as the best source of gaming information available.

1st Issue

Reader Poll

Last Issue of 1980s (?)