|Interview with IMG's Tuncer Deniz|
February 10, 2003 | Michael Yanovich
Let's go back in time. Say, 10 years. Using my carbon abacus (aka fingers) to check my math, that would make it, oh, 1993. Years before the G3 chip, when 30 MHZ was snappy for a computer. DOOM and CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN were birthing the new FPS genre. Windows machines were still chugging along on DOS, Steve Jobs was in Apple exile, and Tuncer Deniz, well... he had a dream.
A dream to create a new magazine devoted to Macintosh games during a time when Apple was desperately trying to distance itself from anything fun you could do on a computer (those new little Macs kinda looked like toys, and Apple was trying to crack the business market's myopic focus on PCs). And now, IMG has become the mack-daddy of them all, the premiere source of news and reviews (not to mention deliciously rampant rumor mongering on the forums) for all things entertainingly Macintosh. Basically, if it's too fun for Macintouch.com to acknowledge, IMG's got the steadfast scoop.
You've heard it all here, folks. Breaking new game announcements, commentary on the state of the industry, interviews with Mac gaming's hottest stars. So now, to celebrate IMG's entrance into pre-adolescence, here some questions for IMG's own founder, Tuncer Deniz.
Tuncer: I basically started IMG as a hobby, without even a thought that it would blossom to what it is today. I graduated from Indiana University in the summer of 1991 and had a hard time trying to find a decent job.
Michael: Let's start off with a brief self-introduction. While most readers here know who you are, many of them probably don't know your background and why you chose to start a magazine devoted to Macintosh games - at a time when Apple's logo was still multicolored but its computers were only grayscale (OK, so maybe a handful of color Macs were starting to hit the market.)
After a few months, I finally landed about the worst job in the world. I scanned photos at a company in Chicago called Montgomery Ward. Basically my job was to scan photos of furniture, fridges, and the like. It was incredibly boring. About the only saving grace was that we used all the latest Macintosh equipment.
Anyway, about six months later I was let go since the company has having massive financial problems and ended up going out of business a few years later. So after I was let go, I began to look for another job and right around that time, I came up with this idea for a Mac games magazine.
At that time no one had even heard of the Internet, and about the only big community online was America Online. They used to have a pretty popular Mac Games area and I used to frequent it often, posting messages, participating in live chats, etc. I had had a keen interest in Macintosh games when I first got a Mac back in 1986 and in between looking for another job, I'd spend most of my time on AOL chatting it up with fellow Mac gamers. That's when I met a guy on AOL named Jon Blum. Like me, he was out of a job, loved Macs and gaming, and when I mentioned the idea to him, he seemed interested.
So now the next step was, how the hell are we going to do this? Well, print was out of the question. Both of us were dirt poor, and had no experience creating a print magazine. So the next logical step was to do it electronically. After some thought, we decided the best way to get it going was to publish it on floppy disk. We ended up picking a shareware program called DocMaker that allowed us to include text and graphics into a magazine-like structure.
We then solicited for writers through the Mac Games forum on AOL and the response was fantastic. I remember we invited all the writers into a private forum one night in January of 1993 to come up with a name for the new magazine. A lot of people had the usual and predictable names like Mac Games Magazine but I wanted something different. I remember seeing a magazine called 'Inside Sports' on the newsstands and thought, hmm, Inside Mac Games, that might work. Of course, when I mentioned it, no one liked it. But the name stood out, and I convinced the others involved it would work.
So we finally had a name, a format, and a way to deliver the magazine. The next step was creating the magazine. So we sent a bunch of games to the writers and within a few weeks we had enough material to publish our first issue. Inside Mac Games Volume 1 - Issue 1 was published in February of 1993. Our very first preview was of Graphic Simulations' F/A-18 Hornet 1.0.
To advertise the magazine we uploaded a "sample" issue of IMG to AOL's popular downloads area and sure enough, people started downloading it. And a few days later people actually started to mail in subscriptions. Jon and I were kind of in shock. Our little idea was actually working out. Within a few months we ended up making a few thousand bucks and decided to spend most of it on advertising.
Our big break came when F/A-18 Hornet started shipping. We made these little flyers to include into every box of Hornet and GraphSim was nice enough to include them in the box. The response was phenomenal. Instead of getting one or two subscriptions a week, we were getting dozens upon dozens every few days. By then, of course, I decided to stop looking for a job and just concentrate on IMG. Jon, on the other hand, had other ideas. He got to know the GraphSim guys really well and they eventually hired him.
By 1994 IMG was doing really well and in 1995 we made the transition from floppy disk to CD-ROM. Basically, I was getting tired of duplicating floppy disks at home. By 1994 we had over 1,000 subscribers and my poor Mac's floppy drive was just about dead (that's right, I would make copies of each issue of IMG manually, one by one). The move to CD was great. In addition to putting the magazine on CD, it allowed us to put demos, shareware games, updates, and all kinds of other stuff on the CD. The response was just fantastic. By 1996 we had about 5,000 or so subscribers.