It is the year 2000.
Bill Clinton is still in the White House. Vladimir Putin has just moved into the Kremlin. The billionth living person in India has just been born. YouTube, Wikipedia and the iPod haven't been invented yet. The Dot-com bubble is bursting.
Sony has just launched the PlayStation 2 in Japan. Microsoft's first game console, the "DirectX Box", is still in development. Nvidia's GeForce 2 is dealing knockout punches on a stumbling 3dfx. The most popular MMORPG is an upstart called EverQuest. An amateur Half-Life multiplayer mod called Counter-Strike, currently in beta, has come out of nowhere and looks like it might be mildly successful.
Spin the globe down and around to that little corner we call New Zealand, and not very much of interest is happening. Apart from one thing...
A web site has just been born. Two kiwi gamers named Simon Barton and Simon Garner had an idea for a gaming portal that would bring together everything that gamers want in one place. It would provide top quality gaming content such as news, reviews and previews along with community forums, downloads, multiplayer online game servers and competitions.
The site was called "Gameplanet", and after nine months of development it was launched in late 2000.
Thank you, thank you...
Whenever I look at Gameplanet and what we have achieved, I feel tremendously fortunate.
When we started there weren't really any other gaming sites in New Zealand to speak of. We filled a void, and so Gameplanet's user base grew very rapidly.
Much of that growth was attributable to a single game: Counter-Strike. We ran a community site and forum called CSNZ (which I actually started before Gameplanet), which attracted a significant proportion of the CS-playing public - and at the height of the game's popularity, that was quite a lot of people.
With that base in place, we were able to spread the word about Gameplanet to a wide audience entirely through word of mouth. People told their friends, who told their friends, and so on - until today it's probably fair to say that if you ask anyone in New Zealand with more than a passing interest in gaming if they've heard the name "Gameplanet", they'll nod.
Like the butterfly effect, had the conditions been different when we started perhaps we would not have been so fortunate.
But while circumstances helped us get started, like any worthwhile venture it has also taken a lot of hard work and determination to get where we are now, and without the tremendous support that we have received from many, many people along the way, we probably wouldn't be here.
So I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads Gameplanet every day, to everyone who posts on GP Forums (whether you're the type that writes thoughtful comments, or the type that posts humorous pictures, or even the type that regularly makes HOS threads - I won't disciminate), to all the lurkers who who hide in the shadows, to all the volunteer moderators and admins of GP Forums (who generously contribute their time and effort to help keep the ship on course), to all the writers who create valuable content for Gameplanet, and to all our partners in the industry.
Thank you especially to Dan, James, Thomas, Gary and Martin, who have all played instrumental roles in making Gameplanet a success.
Where will gaming be in another 10 years? Will the next generation of consoles (PS4? Xbox 720? WiiII?) be reaching their mid-life crises? Will motion controllers be considered a quaint idea? Will a new arch nemesis of gaming have taken Bobby Kotick's place? Will GP Forums still look the same? Will I be driving a flying car yet, dammit?
I'm looking forward to finding out.
- Simon Garner (aka Egor)
To celebrate our birthday, we're giving away consoles! Enter Gameplanet's 10th Birthday Giveaway