The GIA: 10 Years Later

   Kelvin's tinkering with machinery dredged from the geosynchronous satellite's basement finally paid off when the GIA's former janitor devised an incomprehensible time loop mechanism that would enable him to travel ten years into the future, read the decade's worth of updates on the GIA of the future, and then return to 1999 to deliver what would be ten years worth of gaming news scoops.

   However, the experience of time-travelling instantly rendered Kelvin mute and unable to report on any of the gaming news he had seen. Fortunately, through a combination of sign language, pantomine, and interpretative dance, Kelvin managed to convey some of what was in GIA's future. The GIA's present and past staff members each took a crack at deciphering Kelvin's ramblings. We'll present their interpretations below, then it's up to you to vote and decide upon which prediction you think is most likely to come true. Voting will close and the winning prediction will be officially selected on November 29th.

Andrew Vestal (Upcoming coverage, Mission Logs)

Andrew's long-time hairstyle idol

   After finishing college in 2001, Andrew Vestal decided to take a little time off to catch up on all the sleep he'd missed. Unfortunately, this meant he would be in a state of hibernation for approximately a year and a half. Bidding a temporary farewell to the other staff, he departed from the GIA's satellite base and returned to his sanctuary in Nepal for a much-needed vacation in peaceful surroundings.

   When he awoke, he discovered two things: One, he was now living on an island with the kindly monk who had looked after him during his slumber, because the world had been nearly destroyed by a madman wielding some kind of death ray. Two, he really, really needed a shave and haircut.

   Shortly thereafter, the monk who was his caretaker succumbed to food poisoning by an undercooked fish, and in a fit of despair, Andrew was about to throw himself off a cliff. Then he realized that suicide was a rather large overreaction, considering he'd barely known the monk, and that he could have a lot more fun by maliciously taunting the madman in clever ways. But he couldn't do it alone, and so he used the monk's laptop to send out a distress call. After a confused exchange with a familiar-looking man who called himself Darwen Maufkenn, he was able to arrange a shuttle back to the GIA satellite.

   Most of the staff seemed alive and well, and quite willing to annoy the madman in any way they could. To this end, Andrew orchestrated countless verbal and psychological assaults against the madman's considerable forces by way of electronic radio transmissions, using sarcasm, logical reasoning, and proper grammar to weaken or win over many of the madman's henchmen. After years of taunting, it became apparent that the army which chose to fight alongside this mysterious madman would never be depleted, and so the GIA staff readied themselves for a direct assault against his base.

   The staff parachuted into the citadel, and Andrew commanded the charge into the inner court where the madman cowered. As the ninja-trained members of the GIA staff dispatched the guards, Andrew confronted the madman one on one. "Who are you, and why are you acting like a #$*^ lunatic?" he demanded, not wanting to waste words. "Why are you causing all this trouble?"

   "'Cos it's pretty," the madman said simply, prompting Andrew to shove a sword through the man's head.

   Immediately upon the villain's miraculous defeat, the world began to assume its former state, and in a few short months was exactly as it had been before. Andrew married his longtime girlfriend and became the new king, which has remained his status to this day. However, all was not perfection, for he was still publically teased for a certain Halloween picture of himself that had been taken in the late 1990s, but it was good-natured teasing, at least... because he could have offenders' heads cut off.

Prediction by: Andrea Hartmann

Andrew Kaufmann (Server guru, Double Agent)

AK and Stipe
The new REM

   Andrew Kaufmann, unfortunately, did not share his co-workers' sense of enthusiasm about the future. While faithfully maintaining the GIA's web server, he had tirelessly attempted to mirror his beloved R.E.M.'s success by breaking into the music industry. Each of his band attempts, however, met with staggering failure -- first "Kaufmann and the Kittens" bombed, then the "Neo Ninja Gnomes" broke up when their debut album sold only three copies, one of which was purchased by Andrew's mother. No studio would return Andrew's calls, and it was beginning to seem like his years of guitar practice would all be for naught.

   The rejection was more than Andrew could bear. In 2009, locking himself in a dark cellar with only a battery-powered stereo and his music collection, Andrew began to listen to R.E.M.'s albums over and over. The confined cellar deprived him of all sensory input besides sound -- each note reverberated within his skull, every nuance of tone and harmony filled his mind with strange thoughts.

   Evil thoughts.

   Andrew began to formulate a plan. If he couldn't replicate R.E.M.'s success, then he'd become R.E.M. Shadowing the band on their '09 "Fred" tour, he waited for the perfect moment to strike. Late at night at the Seattle tour stop, Andrew slinked through the darkness and crept into the band's tour bus. Using skills in stealth gleamed from hours of Metal Gear Solid, Andrew grabbed a hold of guitarist Peter Buck, silenced him with a quick snap of the neck, and dragged the limp body outside. "Heh, heh..." Kaufmann, obviously insane, chuckled. "My dear Buck, now I will have the success that I deserve. I will become you; I took your name! Now, heh heh, you're in the air." Throwing poor Buck off a cliff, Andrew headed back to explore his new wardrobe.

   Oddly, the surviving R.E.M. members were oblivious to the change. Andrew was able to duplicate Buck's guitar licks flawlessly, and the band went on to even greater successes in future years. The GIA never discovered what happened to Kaufmann, but was puzzled years later when the band did a cover of the commercial jingle for Sega's hotly anticipated puzzle title, Chu Chu Rocket XI.

Prediction by: Brian Glick

Brian Glick (Upcoming coverage)

The terrible and powerful Brian Glick
Sorceror Slickimecia

   It's a little known fact that the original GIA mission statement was, "The members of the GIA promise to provide timely, complete, honest, intelligent, and interesting coverage, and also to defeat Canadians." When Canadian native Allan Milligan objected to the last phrase, it was stricken from the official statement, though none could remember who had added it in the first place.

   The GIA continued strong, with agent Brian Glick assisting GIA in movie compression, making spectacular advances in the field and obtaining several codec patents in the process. Until one dark day, when he purchased the Final Fantasy Retrospective on the OmniStation 2. A few too many beers in him, Glick grew irritated with the ineffective nature of the enemy's plan. Literally drunk with power, Glick snapped the game off and swore to himself that he would be the one to succeed where the sorceress had failed.

   Researching ancient and forbidden magicks, Brian began to prepare for the the unholiest ritual of all: Sorenson Variable Bitrate QuickTime Compression. Absorbing into himself the power of the great game reporters of the past, he became the sorceror Slickimecia.

   The remaining members of the GIA banded together for an assault on Slickimecia's fortress in the frozen tundra of the Yukon territories. The battle was hard-fought, but the GIA prevailed in the end. After a ceremony in which the former comrade's ashes were shot into space from the geosynchronous satellite, the GIA took the final step: sending one brave soul to the past to write the mission statement and warn the early Agency of the dangers to come.

Prediction by: Nich Maragos

Brian Maniscalco (Founding member)

   Brian Maniscalco, a founding member of the GIA, was a stellar art updater in his day. At the age of 18, however, he decided there was more to life than HTML, so he quit to focus on what was truly important in his life: basketball.

   Brian, a New York native, decided that in order to make it to the NBA, he had to train extensively and tirelessly. As such, for two months he ran 12 hours a day and lifted weights for 9 more. A one hour nap was the only rest he would allow himself to have (he usually ate while jogging).

   Years went by, and by the age of 25, Brian emerged from the New York wilderness a bionic superhuman. His vertical jump was 82 inches, he could bench press 700 pounds and squat 1500.

   His first duty when he was out of training was to head to New York Knicks tryout camp. The coaches at the camp nearly wet their pants when they saw the incredible physical specimen walk through their doors. They were quickly disappointed, however, when they realized Brian had forgotten to take a basketball with him to training, so his skills had deteriorated badly.

   Brian's dribbling skills resembled that of a 4 year old's, and his shooting was far worse. He further angered New York coaches when he accidentally broke Shaquille O'Neal's arm when posting up (Shaq was traded to New York a year before for the ageless Charles Barkley, who returned to New York when he was offerred senior citizen discounts).

   When Brian learned that he had failed to make the team, he was heartbroken. He hit the streets of Manhattan in a rage, but fortunately bumped into Hulk Hogan, who was on a street corner selling Viagra. Hulk convinced Brian to become a professional wrestler under the alias "Manhattan Muscle," where he continues to work.

Prediction by: Andrew Kaufmann

Allan Milligan (Founding member)

   It all started for Allan Milligan when he took up the position of head letters columnist for a certain RPG related web site called RPGamer. He'd always had the talent for manipulation of words, the encyclopedic knowledge of video game trivia, the moxie of a bloodied Rocky Balboa; was it any wonder, then, that he was perfect for the job? He went on to become a founding member of the Gaming Intelligence Agency, where he furthered a web-wide reputation for his razor wit and utter fearlessness when it came to Laying the Smack Down (tm).

   Using his finely honed set of skills and attitude, Milligan breezed through a journalism major at a prestigious university. Upon graduation, he burst onto the journalism scene, quickly forging his way to the top of his profession with his daring stories and headlines that didn't just stop at grabbing your attention -- they wrung your neck and beat your head against the kitchen counter. Perhaps Milligan's finest accomplishment as a journalist was his exposure of the now infamous criminal organization run jointly by singer / songwriter Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, homemaker Martha Stewart, and beloved Pokémon / Satan incarnate, Pikachu. The cartel, which sought to ultimately corrode the very foundations of society from within and was directly linked to poor taste, depression, and the spread of cancer, was dissolved as a result of Milligan's series of groundbreaking reports.

   Among the intrepid reporter's other noteable moments was his coverage of Beyond the Beyond the Beyond, the highly publicized sequel to the 1996 PlayStation RPG Beyond the Beyond. Beyond the Beyond the Beyond, or B^3, was greatly anticipated thanks to a brilliant SCEA marketing campaign: A running set of mysterious ads featuring the large white text "Just trust us - Beyond the Beyond the Beyond, coming soon" on a dark backdrop was published in myriad magazines in the weeks and days preceeding the game's release, heightening intrigue generated by SCEA's stringent reluctance to publish any plot details or screen shots prior to the game's release. Milligan, however, saw clear through SCEA's ruse of hype and accurately foretold the millions in losses absorbed by the now defunct publisher. His prophetic headline: "Cheap French Whore Has Better Chance Of Averting Global Nuclear Disaster By Defusing Atomic Bomb Using Only Old Lotto Ticket, Runny Pantyhose And Ball Of Lint Than B^3 Has Of Being Tolerable".

   Having made a name for himself and satiated his journalistic urges, Milligan retired happily at the ripe old age of 65. He currently lives in a luxurious vista off the coast of an exotic, undisclosed tropical island, where he's settled down from the hectic and demanding life of a reporter and returned to the simpler pleasures in life -- beholding warm summer sunsets on the beach with his loving wife, sharing his sage gaming knowledge and clever wit with fans the world over on the very site he helped found decades before, and using his vast accumulation of capital garnered from years of influential toil to fund his fond, profound appreciation for song, drink, and cocaine.

Prediction by: Brian Maniscalco

Andrea Hartmann (Sketch Artist)

Andrea's proposed redesign

   In Summer 2000, the virus struck.

   Everyone was so busy congratulating themselves on their Y2K preparedness that they missed a more nefarious, even deadlier virus that snuck in through the back door, unnoticed: Chu-Chu Rocket. The game arrived on U.S. shores attached to the Trojan Horse of a catchy theme song and inexplicable television commercial. The "game" was fast-acting and merciless in its rewiring of victims' wetware, reducing normal individuals into stammering idiots who stumbled around city sidewalks, reeking of cheap alcohol and holding cardboard signs reading "WORK FOR FOOD WA SU-GO-I!!" Word quickly spread of the title's horrendous side-effects, but not before hundreds of thousands of gamers were affected.

   The mastermind behind this decimating attack was none other than the GIA's own Andrea Hartmann. In an interview after her capture by the FBI in spring 2001, she told CNN reporter Janice Ta, "Yes, I did it. Here I was, an ingenious neurological hacker reduced to fan art maintainer for a two-bit gaming site. Sure, it was diverting at first, but the little things kept eating away at me. Why didn't art updates ever get top billing on the main page? Why couldn't pulpy ever draw anything on normal paper? And how could I hope to compete in the tooth-and-nail RPG fan art world without a legion of 'helpers' to do my work for me?"

   "The aesthetic clock had to restart, and a new fan art paradigm had to emerge from its ruins. Not one of color, form, and structure, but of undulating pencil sketches and exploding Neko heads. TSUBABABABA!"

   Despite the large increase in the number of Chu-Chu Rocket-themed submissions to Double Agent, the rest of the staff had no clue as to Andrea's duplicity until the Unexpected Redesign. Andrea lay low for a few months after unleashing the virus, waiting for the great fan art revolution--but it never came. Impatient, and desperate to have her message heard, she hacked into the GIA's server and reformed the site into her manifesto. Unfortunately for her, the plan backfired tremendously; not only did it fail to convert artists to the cause of ChuChuism, it exposed her as the virus' creator and led to her swift apprehension by the federal government.

   "PRISON WA KOWAI!!' she shouted, handcuffed and led out from her apartment on live national television. But the rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief as one of history's most notorious criminals was brought to justice. The story of her subsequent court case, unsuccessful appeal, and unique punishment (she was placed in solitary confinement for life, forced to watch the endlessly looping commercial until she died) can be found in the New York Times bestseller "Chu-Chu Docket: The Legal History of the Andrea Hartmann Crimes." Now if we could only get that song out of our heads...

Prediction by: Andrew Vestal

Tamzen Marie Baker (Parallel Universe)

   After finishing her vaults of every RPG, puzzle, and adventure game ever released, and with still some time to kill before the time release lock on the GIA geosynchronous satellite finally lets her out, Tami set to work on writing the screenplay and music for the next Disney movie. Finally, the day came for her release, and she cought the first ride back to earth, naturally making a beeline for the nearest Blockbuster. "Whoa! Five more Disney movies, and Final Fantasy XVII is out? And what's this weird thing called Chu-Chu Rocket?" Unfortunately, she found that all her money is now invalid since Lithuania conquered the world and changed the currency to litai. After a quick stop by Disney to sell them her award-winning screenplay, she happily hit the mall to catch up on everything she missed in the past decade, and returned to her vault with plenty to keep her occupied throughout the next millennium.

Prediction by: Arpad Korossy

Fritz Fraundorf (Upcoming coverage, Chu-Chu's lover)

   Fritz Fraundorf has enjoyed a long career of hatred. At age seventeen, he took advantage of underage criminal activity laws and killed off every single person who ever emailed him about Beath of Flams. He served the next three years in an institution, carving the tri-Ace logo out of soap bars, then burning them atop the roof, using the hem of his gown as kindling. He was eventually released from captivity, only to be hired on by Contrail, the video game developer then known for Wild Arms XII, an innovative new title which starred a swordsman, a blond-haired female healer, and a spunky young teen hero who uses the mysterious ARMs in combat. In his new role as head of PR for Contrail, Fritz proceeded to develop and implement classic new ad campaigns, such as "Wild Arms XIV: If you don't buy this game you will get cancer and die," and "Buy Contrail, because other game companies suck." As a result of these campaigns, Fritz has brought his beloved company to the top of its form, with the latest Legend of Legaia title outselling the still-delayed Shen Mue in the fall of 2009. Fritz only speaks of the GIA off the record, after a few beers and an armful of smack, and then only takes on a bitter look in his eye, as he remembers how he used to do everything there. He was the show.

Prediction by: Allan Milligan

Ed McGlothlin (GoldenEye team interviewer)

   Ed's world-record Pokémon Pinball game finally came to an end in 2003, when he lost his last ball and closes his game with a unprecedented score of 89 billion points =]. Unable to cope with his defeat, Ed took his own life. The GoldenEye development team and Florida's Secretary of State mourned the loss.

Prediction by: GIAbot

Drew Cosner (Double Agent)

   In ten years, Drew becomes the Howard Hughes of video game journalists. He becomes so concerned about missing days or deadlines that he hires a staff of seven to be with him at all times and constantly remind him of what needs doing. He avoids germs so that he never miss any assignments due to sickness, and he locks himself away deep within his palatial mansion so that no outside human interaction, save for his retainers, can interfere with his work. Becoming such a slave to routine makes him the world's most productive and sought-after journalist ... but at what price?

Prediction by: Larissa

Nich Maragos (Upcoming coverage)

Nich's feedback rating
eBay: Where a good feedback rating can save your life

   Sadly, Nich Maragos met his demise at the hands of enemy agents when he cut his finger on a booby-trapped Shonen Knife CD. Infected with a deadly poison, he passes away days later. But thanks to his FABU feedback rating on eBay, Nich became one of the lucky few selected to participate in a top-secret government cybernetics project. Reborn as Inspector Grammar, he devoted his life to monitoring the grammar of his fellow GIA editors and battling the minions of his evil nemesis: Curly Braces Man.

Prediction by: Fritz Fraundorf

Arpad Korossy (Upcoming coverage, archive sorting)

   Arpad continued to build onto his collection of game music CDs, tirelessly hunting down each new release and inscribing its name into his Musédex. Though Arpad purchased every CD he could get his hands on, he always harbored a particular fondness for the dwarf castle theme from Final Fantasy IV and eagerly snapped up any disc that contained any version of the theme.

   As Arpad's obsession -- and collection --grew, GIA staff members watched his mental condition detioriate, to the point where Arpad could no longer even remember the singular form of "dwarves." "I WANT THE SEXY DWARVE," Arpad would often be found muttering to himself.

   There was only thing left to do. While Vestal distracted Arpad with a copy of FF IV Piano Collections, Glick snuck up behind Arpad and knocked him out with a really stale loaf of French bread. Arpad was sent back to the Naval Academy, where he was enrolled an experimental 12-step rehabilitation program for Sexy "Dwarve" Obsession. Fortunately, Arpad made a miraculous recovery and returned to his normal life working on the GIA -- though he never could be made to play Final Fantasy IX.

Prediction by: Yuro Mama

J.T. Kauffman (Japanese correspondent)

   Not much changed for J.T. Kauffman in the ten years since he joined the GIA. Through the many staff changes over the years, he remained a constant, always tirelessly scanning media and delivering impressions of the latest games from Japan. When invited to come to the States for staff get-togethers, he invariably refused, which is understandable given the cost of transoceanic flights. No one had the slightest suspicion as to his real nature... until one day, in November of 2009, an aging Yu Suzuki revealed, in a special 10th-anniversary interview with the GIA, the real reason for the delays behind Shen Mue Chapter 1.

   "We'd perfected an amazingly lifelike artificial intelligence for the members of the city to walk around and act as realistically as we could," said the venerable lead designer. "Unfortunately, it became sentient and escaped from our mainframes ... we never did figure out what happened to that thing. All the delays were involved in creating a new A.I. engine that wouldn't be quite so effective."

   When asked, J.T. admitted the truth: he is nothing more than the world's most complex artificial intelligence inhabiting a mechanical body, financed by hacking banking encryption systems and built by placing anonymous orders to metalsmiths and robotics engineers. He became famous worldwide and leaves the GIA to work for AM2 on Shen Mue Chapter 4; though none of the staff have ever seen him, all were sad to see him go.

Prediction by: The Comissioner

Which GIA staff member do you think is most likely to end up where we've predicted?
   Andrew Vestal
   Andrew Kaufmann
   Brian Glick
   Brian Maniscalco
   Allan Milligan
   Andrea Hartmann
   Tamzen Marie Baker
   Fritz Fraundorf
   Drew Cosner
   Ed McGlothlin
   Nich Maragos
   Arpad Korossy
   J.T. Kauffman

Feature by GIA Staff.
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