If you were looking for video game content on the internet in 1999, you might have come across a website called Dreamers128. The site focused entirely on the Sega Dreamcast for the first month before being rebranded to Gamestyle and broadening it’s scope to other gaming platforms. Gamestyle was founded and independently operated by Dean Swain, both before and after brief associations with a media network FanGen and a merger with fellow independent site GameHub.
Gamestyle’s primary focus was on reviewing, previewing and features about video games. Throughout time, it achieved a reputation for its rigorous reviewing policy and efforts to establish itself as an unbiased and reliable source of gaming opinion pieces. Nintendo used Gamestyle’s favourable review to promote the launch campaign of Metroid Prime. Over the years, Gamestyle has created its own community through a discussion forum, published daily industry and gaming news, expanded its back catalogue of retro gaming coverage, released a podcast called Gamestyle Live, and a downloadable PDF magazine called Gamestyle Offline.
Writers and contributors to Gamestyle have subsequently pursued careers in video game journalism, including Garnett Lee who became the editor of IGN/News Corp.’s 1UP.com, Ollie Barder who moved on to write for British daily newspaper The Guardian and later Forbes, and Darren Jones who is currently Editor of Retro Gamer magazine after a stint as retro editor of gamesTM. Gamestyle’s founder, Dean Swain, now hosts an award-winning podcast called Retro Asylum.
“Gamestyle has been around now for a staggering ten years and remains one of the most entertaining non-corporate gaming websites around. Featuring a thriving community, Gamestyle prides itself on its well-written and non-biased reviews and covers everything from the latest 360 and PS3 releases to the classics like Metroid and Football Manager.
Indeed, one of Gamestyle’s greatest strengths is that it’s able to offer something for everyone and as a result is a true gamer’s website, with polite and enthusiastic forum members and a small core team of talented writers. Oh and if you fancy a giggle then look for the Project Zero/Fatal Frame review in their massive archive.”Retro Gamer Magazine, Issue 60 – Website of the Month
So, what happened?
In 2012, Gamestyle was targeted by hackers resulting in the complete erasure of both the primary website and the backup server. This loss was catastrophic, as it resulted in over 12 years’ worth of content vanishing overnight. In response, the site underwent significant streamlining, with a reduced number of contributors and a subsequent pivot in focus; prioritising coverage of indie developers and smaller publishers. In addition, a greater emphasis was placed on integrating with social media channels and the publication of Gamestyle Live content on YouTube and iTunes.
Big respect to the people that aimed to keep the Gamestyle name alive.
2023 – present
The dotcom domain is still in the possession of Matt Vestengen-Cox, who became a team member around 2002/03. He was accountable for site design, web development work, in addition to public relations and sourcing (liasing with games publishers to obtain games and consoles for our writers to work with).
This is his attempt at a step-by-step restoration of past reviews. They are sourced from multiple archives across the internet and the original writing restored. This will be a gradual, manual process to salvage what is possible, rather than a complete archive of all the material Gamestyle has published. Thanks to the WayBack Machine by Internet Archive, the WordPress site Gamestyle Archive, Metacritic – who still list over 1665 of our old reviews and scores – OpenCritic and MobyGames.
There is a pipe dream to eventually assemble a small team of writers and an editor to carry on the legacy of providing reliable and truthful gaming reviews.