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A Decade of Gamereactor UK

We reflect on ten years of fun and games.

A Decade of Gamereactor UK

Gamereactor had already been around in one form or another for a decade, but on August 26, 2008, we launched an English language site to bring our work to an even larger audience. As we wrote in the very first post the idea was to build around our GRTV content, bringing our interviews and video features to new readers alongside interesting articles, often with a dash of Nordic flavour. It wasn't long before the reviews and previews followed, and Gamereactor International was properly up and running.

In 2010 the site looked past its Nordic origins and hired its first British editor-in-chief, with PC Zone's Steve Hogarty joining the team. It wasn't meant to be, and later that year Gillen McAllister joined the team in his place. Gillen and site founder Bengt Lemne were joined a year later by Mike Holmes, and together they oversaw the launch of Gamereactor Magazine in the UK, with GR's trademark print mag appearing as a free magazine in retailers up and down the country. They even got nominated for a couple of awards, which was nice.

All the while the site has expanded, with more and more readers clicking on our stories and reviews, underpinned by the hard work and endeavour of GRTV, who work with the UK editorial team to deliver interviews and previews from the biggest gaming events around the world. The magazine would eventually be retired, but in its place came the rise of esports, and in early 2016 we started our esports sub-site, with current chief esports writer Sam Bishop joining the team a few months later.

A Decade of Gamereactor UK
We published more than 20 issues of the UK magazine over a two year period.

Which brings us to today. August 26, 2018. Gamereactor UK is ten-years-old, and thanks to the hard work of the team - with support from the whole Gamereactor Network - we now share news, reviews, and articles by writers based all over the world, from China to Finland via Spain and the Netherlands. With 13 branches around the globe covering local games and sharing the best of their efforts, supported by esports coverage and some of the finest industry interviews you'll see anywhere on the Internet, Gamereactor is in great shape to deliver another ten years of video game-related news and opinion.

Having said that, we wouldn't be going to all this trouble if it wasn't for you, dear readers, and thanks to every article you click on and every video you watch, we get to think and write about games all day. Thanks to your loyalty over the years we're privileged to do something we love for a living. So, thanks for that.

And now, without further ado, our editors past and present will delve a bit deeper into the last ten years, sharing their thoughts on a decade of Gamereactor UK.

The Early Years

If we venture back to the humble beginnings of the English language Gamereactor website it wasn't a fully fledged website as it is today. It took more of a blog form, where the early focus was to promote the various video features in English that were already being produced. We had noticed some traffic spikes on certain videos and thought it'd be a good idea to leverage this in a way that made more sense for an international audience beyond the Nordic borders where Gamereactor got its start (initially as in Denmark back in 1998).

A Decade of Gamereactor UK
Our old logo when first launched back in 2008.

Management likely had ideas for international expansion way back then (we're now 13 branches of Gamereactor spanning both Europe and Asia), but from an editorial perspective, the early days were very much an experimental phase where we learned as we went. At first, we did brief recaps of reviews from the Nordic branches in English with an aggregate score, a decision that feels decidedly odd today. Fairly soon after the launch, I was joined by Petter Mårtensson, who helped out with posts, particularly focusing on MMO titles and often joining the crew on trips to events like Gamescom and E3. These days he works at Massive Entertainment on the community side of The Division 2, and we ran into him at Gamescom where he was lugging along equipment to film community clips during the show. Another funny coincidence was that the first interview posted on the English language blog was for Diablo III, a game we also did another interview on ten years later (this time about the Switch version). Plenty of full circles then...

Eventually, the blog got upgraded to a full site, and soon the thought of establishing a proper English site grew stronger.

Bengt Lemne


Operating a shared editorial plan across eight locales and languages, while simultaneously factoring in each editorial team's different objectives and priorities reads like a logistical nightmare. And in practice, it was. It'd be a lie to say that wasn't one of the first memories that filters through when remembering my five years at Gamereactor. (Half a decade; Christ, I feel old.)

But importantly it's not the only memory. The camaraderie with those similarly-minded colleagues helped in making this seemingly impossible task feel manageable.

And even on those days it definitely wasn't, our shared passion and drive to do the best we could with the resources we had helped through those long hours.

A Decade of Gamereactor UKA Decade of Gamereactor UK
On the left: former editor-in-chief Gillen McAllister (L) and our first esports editor Rasmus Lund-Hansen (R). On the right: the team head into the north entrance of the Koelnmesse.

Our collective teams only managed one meet-up in my time there, crowded round a couple of pub benches ahead of my first Gamescom with the company. It was one of the more epic ice-breakers I've enjoyed. It, along with the never-diminishing satisfaction from a job well done - putting a magazine to bed, walking away from a trade show with video interview counts hitting the triple digits - was one of my fondest memories of my tenure at GR-UK.

And I have many more. But, I've a word count to keep. So unlike my review epics (the no longer localising of which is one reason I'm sure the wider company were glad to see the back of me), I'll leave those stories for another time.

(Okay, one additional admission: my insistence to refer to the British branch of the company as GR-UK was a nod to one of my favourite console magazines, the Dreamcast-focused DC-UK. An acronym I felt was too good to let die.)

Gillen McAllister

The Esports Era

I came on board around June 2016 when Gamereactor was dipping their tentative toes into the strange new world of esports, but by December I was on board as a hybrid of staff writer for the EU side of things and an esports editor, meaning I was the one dedicated person keeping up with competitive gaming. As I got more experienced (with what was my first job out of university, I should add), contacts were made, confidence was gained, and our output started increasing.

A Decade of Gamereactor UK
Esports editor Sam Bishop interviews Blizzard's Jon Spector earlier this summer in New York City.

You might have also noticed that we have a Weekly Esports Round-up show made in conjunction with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, so with that and news reporting, there's plenty to keep me busy, and that's without mentioning the big events we've attended. Since I've started we've been to the US, Brazil, Poland, Paris, the UK, Germany, and more to cover a ton of different games and their competitions, and our coverage has expanded to the point where we're regularly grabbing interviews and covering all the biggest and best news. The future's bright then, and with esports getting bigger, the only way is up from here.

Sam Bishop

Looking Ahead

And that brings us pretty much up to date. Over the years it's fair to say that Gamereactor UK has been through quite the transformation, and I've been lucky enough to be part of much of it, first as a freelancer, next as staff writer, deputy editor, and then finally in 2015 when I took over the reins from Gillen and became editor-in-chief.

Over the years I particularly enjoyed working on the magazine, and while those hard print deadlines meant some late nights, seeing our work on the printed page was a real thrill, especially that first issue (which is still hanging on the wall of my office). We might have made the odd typo (one of which I remember being particularly unfortunate - I'll never tell which one though), but the fact that each magazine was free meant that plenty of people were reading our words, and as someone who grew up devouring gaming mags, that was really exciting.

A Decade of Gamereactor UK
David Caballero (GR Spain), Lisa Dahlgren (GR Sweden), Mike Holmes, and Bengt Lemne at Gamescom 2018.

But they weren't just reading our words, though; even back then we were collaborating with our colleagues around Europe. Now, with Gamereactor arriving in territories as far away as China, our network continues to grow, and so too does the spirit of collaboration among the team. As we look ahead into the next decade, knowing that the whole GR network is being powered by hard-working, knowledgeable, and passionate people gives me great hope that Gamereactor will still be giving you its take on the wonderful world of video games for many years to come. And that, after all, is why we're all here.

Thanks for reading, and here's to the next ten.

Mike Holmes

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