Unfortunately, a few years after the book was published, things went south. He deleted my reviews from the third edition of the book (which was his prerogative, and which I wouldn’t have minded if he would have handled it better), began ghosting me at video game conventions (which got awkward), and starting saying nasty things about me on his podcast and YouTube channel (which was part irritating, part amusing).
In his comments about me on his podcast, he would refer to me sarcastically as “the famous author,” and he even called me a “passive-aggressive asshole.” I always assumed he didn’t mention me by name because he didn’t want to draw attention to my YouTube channel or my books, which is probably true. I think he began viewing me as a competitor instead of a friend once my Omnibus books started coming out, which I’ll get to in a bit. However, in a recent podcast/video, he threw the gloves off and called me out by name and said some things I’d like to clear up and correct.
To answer a few quick questions brought about by Pat and his pal Ian’s recent take on me, here you go:
1. Yes, I played all the games I reviewed in Pat’s NES book thoroughly, though I didn’t beat them all. Yes, Pat paid me to write the reviews upfront, and I never expected royalties (sorry if this was ever unclear). I genuinely liked the oft-criticized Magic Johnson’s Fastbreak, though I admit nostalgia for the game colored my opinion. (I would have given Double Dribble 4 stars, BTW.) Pat rewrote my Rad Gravity review and gave me full credit for it--that’s the type of thing editors do sometimes, so not a big deal.
2. As far as I can tell, Pat thought my reviews were perfectly fine (he even said I was doing a good job) until he saw me as competition when my Omnibus books started coming out. After that, he called them “garbage” on his podcast. If he thought my reviews were garbage, he wouldn’t have published most of them in the SECOND EDITION of the book as well. My reviews in his NES book are no better or worse than his or Ian’s or the other writers—they’re about on-par with the other entries (this isn't rocket science), which you can see for yourself if you have either earlier edition.
Further, and this is the most important point, in a friendly email marked Dec. 07, 2016, he implied that he WANTED ME TO WRITE FOR HIS SUPER NINTENDO BOOK MONTHS AFTER HIS NES BOOK WAS PUBLISHED. This proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was happy with my reviews in his book until he saw me as competition. It also shows that I was forthcoming in telling him I was working on a large SNES book with high production values.
3. I don’t have “animosity” toward Pat because of him deleting my reviews from the third edition of his NES book. I was irritated and in fact felt betrayed by him for not telling me ahead of time (or ever) and having to discover it on my own. He subsequently ignored my very polite DMs inquiring about it, and he even ignored a message I sent congratulating him on his highly successful Kickstarter for his SNES book. He had every right to do with his book what he wanted, including removing my reviews, but he didn’t handle it professionally in my opinion.
5. They said in the video that I “suddenly glommed onto the Intellivision Amico” immediately after they got skeptical about it. That’s completely untrue. I’ve been a fan of the original Intellivision since I first played it in 1980, and I love the idea of retro-reimagined games. My interest had nothing to do with them, and I was onboard with the idea behind the console the first time I heard about it. When they started making nasty remarks about the Amico and former Intellivision CEO Tommy Tallarico (which turned out to be justified in many cases), did I root even more for the console to succeed? Yes, but that’s much different than me being for the Amico simply because they were against it.
6. Were Pat and Ian ultimately right about the Amico in many respects, such as it not coming out? And about people getting screwed out of their investments and pre-orders? Sadly, yes. I thought the Amico was a cool idea, especially early on, but Tommy and Intellivision mishandled it horribly. As such, I did a video on the mistakes they made and how I canceled my pre-order. I never got hateful toward Tommy about the Amico—I simply stated my views as objectively as I could—which I guess makes me passive-aggressive.
7. My video about the Play Date was actually pretty even-handed. I said I didn’t “get” the handheld console, the same way a lot of people didn’t “get” the Amico, so I could empathize. Was my Play Date video a response to Pat and Ian’s video about the Play Date? Not really, as I recall. I simply thought the system was an interesting parallel to the Amico: an underpowered, overpriced console that I wasn’t interested in, compared to the Amico, which I was interested in, despite it being underpowered and eventually overpriced. I saw some irony there and felt it was a good topic. I was honest in my assessment about the prospective Play Date at the time, based on what I saw of the thing in action on YouTube. I was unimpressed with the tiny (if clear) black-and-white screen and the awkward crank that shook the system when you played it. I would have said so if I thought that it looked cool—I try to be as objective and as honest as possible in my videos.
For some added perspective on all of this, let’s go back to the first time I met Pat and our subsequent encounters.
I was a vendor at the 2009 (or perhaps 2010, I forget which) ScrewAttack Game Convention in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This was a fun (and fondly remembered) show hosted by Craig Skistimas and company. Pat approached my table, said hello, and started flipping through a copy of my then-most recent book, Classic Home Video Games:1985-1988 (the cover dates refer to console era—the book features a write-up for every US release for the NES, Master System, and 7800). He told me that he was planning on writing an NES book of his own, but that he had something bigger in mind: a full-color hardcover book with screenshots and the like (my CHVG book is more like an encyclopedia with game synopses and relatively few black-and-white images).
At some point—I can’t remember exactly when or where—Pat asked me if I’d like to write some reviews for his book. He said he would write the majority, but that he was going to include some contributing writers on the project. I expressed interest, and we had a series of highly congenial phone calls. We share a lot of common interests and had some interesting conversations about writing, pop culture, the NES, and more. He had a clear vision for his book, and I was excited to take part. At the time, I was a full-time freelance writer and always grateful for paying work as well as added exposure. We agreed on a sum that suited us both (he paid me upfront for my work as I turned it in), and over the next few months, I played and replayed more than 60 games and wrote up my reviews and reflections for those titles. I repurposed some of my reviews from my previous projects, which I told him upfront I was going to do, such as the website (the late, lamented All Game Guide) that Pat references in his recent video, but I played the games anew and polished up my reviews accordingly. Admittedly, some of my opinions of retro/vintage games are colored by nostalgia.
When Pat’s NES book came out in 2016, I was super excited and did an unboxing on my YouTube channel. The previous year, I promoted the book on my website. I shared the full Kickstarter campaign on my website (which I deleted when it was no longer relevant). I even included the book in a roundup of retro gaming books I did for the Fort WorthStar-Telegram and a few other outlets, being sure to include a disclaimer that I was a contributing writer. I didn’t expect further compensation—no royalties or anything like that—but I was happy to help promote the book without him or anyone else asking me to. I was just pumped up about it!
From time to time, Pat and I are guests at the same retro gaming convention, such as the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and the Midwest Gaming Classic. We always said “hey” to each other in the past, and sometimes people would bring me Pat’s book to sign. I would also tell people to check out Pat’s book if they hadn’t already. I asked Pat at a PRGE if he wanted to do a book panel sometime, and he said no, which of course was his prerogative—not a big deal. One time at Retropalooza, I volunteered to take him to a shop to get his phone repaired, but he had already called an Uber. He did a panel at Classic Game Fest, and I stood in line to ask him a question. When it was my turn to as my question, he referred to me as the author of The 100 Greatest Console Video Games, which I thought was cool. I texted him from time to time, and he would usually respond. In short, we were what I considered to be acquaintances and even friends. Pat published a second edition of the book, and most of my reviews and reflections were in that edition as well.
Then things got a little off-kilter, which I’ll explain in a bit. Instead of doing a fourth volume in the Classic Home Video Games series, I decided to do a full-on Super Nintendo book, complete with box art, cartridge photos, screenshots, vintage ads, and the like. I also included Insider Insights (supplemental stories about certain games from other content creators), the idea of which I got in part from the stories in Rob Strangman’s Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman book. I was also inspired by the “Lore” stories from Digital Press. I didn’t pay for these Insider Insights, but the contributing writers were very excited to tell their stories and see them in print, especially in a professionally published (by Schiffer) book that would appear in actual brick-and-mortar stores, such as Barnes & Noble. These “contributions” were literally that: contributions.
And I am eternally grateful for the from-the-heart work people have written for the Omnibus books. The Insider Insight writers list reads like a retro gaming all-star squad. Everyone from Kelsey Lewin to John Riggs to Shawn “RGT 85” Long to Console Wars author Blake Harris to Intellivision programmer David Warhol to New York Best-Selling Author John Jackson Miller has contributed awesome tales about games they had a particular interest in. And this just scratches the surface—I have had probably more than 200 contributing writers, most of whom have worked in the industry in one way or another. Pat is always quick to ridicule me for not paying these contributing writers, but I’m not forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to. The contributing writers have been extremely supportive, and many share my posts and videos. I've had my publisher send some of them review copies as well.
After The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M) was published in 2018, Pat stopped by my booth at a show and flipped through a copy, and we spoke briefly. The encounter seemed friendly enough. I went by his booth later to get a pic with him and his NES book and me with my SNES book. I sort of detected he wasn’t thrilled to be in the pic, but I may have been misreading the situation (so to speak)--I wasn’t sure. Regardless, he did take the time to be in the pic.
As I referenced earlier, my Classic Home Video Games books, while professionally published (by McFarland), are relatively simple guides to numerous old consoles, with brief write-ups for each game. Pat didn’t seem too concerned about those books. As a matter of fact, he once told me via FB messaging that my CGVG 1985-1988 covering the 7800, NES, and Master System “wasn’t an NES book.” However, my Omnibus books are very slickly produced with deluxe hardcover binding, thousands of full-color photos, hundreds of thousands of words, etc. As far as I can tell, Pat’s attitude toward me changed when he saw my first Omnibus book. I believe he suddenly felt like I was competition, and he didn’t like me encroaching on “his” territory, even though I have been at it much longer than him. My Omnibus books are fairly similar to his Guide books in terms of basic structure but with plenty of differences to make them stand apart. You can check out sample pages on Amazon too see the differences.
After Pat saw my SNES book(s), I saw his behavior toward me begin to change. The timing sure seems to suggest that, anyway. He suddenly stopped mentioning my name on his podcast when he would talk about guests at video game conventions we were both doing, and he started acting strangely around me at said conventions, like he would rather be anywhere else than around me. I would still try to make small talk with him, but he seemed uncomfortable. He also blocked me on social media. And then the trash-talking on his podcast began. My support for the Amico and his conflict with Tommy, who I was friends with for many years before the Amico debacle, only made things worse. Somehow, things have gotten to point where we are what…enemies? Seems silly, really. I don’t like drama, nor do I see Pat as an enemy, so I hope we can at least be polite to one another moving forward, but that’s entirely up to him.
Pat can always reach out to me via social media or give me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if he wants to clear the air. He can also call me any time. It’s possible he has misconstrued what has transpired over the past few years regarding all of this, and I’ll be happy to discuss it. It’s possible I have misunderstood his perspective as well. If his attitude towards me changed for reasons other than him seeing my Omnibus books as competition, I’d appreciate him telling me. After all, there are two sides to every story, as they say. Or am I just being passive-aggressive?
Thanks to everyone who has made it this far, and to everyone for your continued support!