I’m incredibly saddened to announce the passing of Bill Kunkel, who died suddenly on September 4 at 61 years old.
Bill was quite literally the father of games journalism. He, along with Joyce Worley and Arnie Katz, founded Electronic Games, the first mainstream monthly video game magazine. Best known by his nom de plume “The Game Doctor,” Bill was active in the industry from the late 1970s until the moment of his death. His book, Confessions of the Game Doctor, is required reading for anyone interested in the seamier side of the industry.
I knew him; for far too brief a time. Back in May we ran a round table on games journalism at the Interfaces conference in Michigan. As Bill did not drive, it fell to me to pick him up and take him home. There’s nothing like two hours in a car with a stranger to determine whether or not you’re compatible, and Bill and I had so much fun just chatting about the games of old that it seemed we’d known each other for a century. I feel like I’ve lost a friend I was just starting to make.
Bill is survived by his wife Laurie, as well as his siblings. Rest in peace, Bill.
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Rest in peace, Mr. Kunkel.
It’s never easy to lose a friend irrespective of how long you’ve known then. Sorry for your loss, Matt.
This is sad to hear. Rest peacefully, sir. And thanks for your many contributions.
That man, was the coolest. In that place where you talk to people and just know they’ve got more to say then just static. Bill gave you substance.
Very sad news. I’m honored I was able to meet Bill while he was still around.
Bill Kunkel’s passing was noted in the New York Times Technology section – in the Bits section. This may be a link or it may not be since the NYT (the days) seems to guard against people reading online without paying.
Bill Kunkel, an Early Chronicler of Video Games, Dies at 61
Bill, Arnie Katz, and Joyce Worley were also the founders of the magazine Video Games & Computer Entertainment, a subscription for which was given to me for my somethingth birthday – 1990-ish, I think. It was VG&CE that transformed my comprehension of game writing. Until then it was Nintendo Power and similarly pimpish magazines: not reporting, but advertising. VG&CE was different.
I remember The Game Doctor had a little column in the back (Bill was also Executive Editor). When I left for college in 1993, I cancelled my subscription due to poverty… and when I returned in the summer, the magazine was gone. I loved VG&CE. It was the first… mature thing I’d found talking about video games. That magazine was, unquestionably, what made me realize that games journalism and criticism might be a possible grown-up career path for me.
When I picked Bill up for the conference in May, he gave me an old issue of the magazine as a present – October 1991. A big expose on the SNES, and discussion of Star Wars games; I read it cover to cover.
After the conference, when I emailed him to say thanks, he wrote, “It was entirely my pleasure, Matt. I had a blast talking with you on the ride and the students at the interfaces. Any time you want to do it again, just let me know. I’ve got more VG&CEs here. :)”
I had a blast too.
Bill, Arnie, and Joyce founded Electronic Games magazine. They were (big) contributors to VideoGames & Computer Entertainment. I was the founder and Publisher of VG&CE. They were great to work with and so passionate about gaming. They contributed to the industry more than most people know. While they are generally credited with publishing the first dedicated video games magazine, my ANALOG Computing covered the Atari 2600 heavily 6 months prior to their magazine, but yes, they were first out the door with an industry-wide gaming mag.