PALGN's forum community has always been important to us, and today is a something of a special day for said forums - yup, it's their fifth anniversary. It's hard to believe that the site first kicked off on March 15th, 2002. The forums, which were originally created as a reaction to the introduction of subscription fees to use the IGN boards, have rapidly grown into a bustling community, and one of the most active places to chat online about games in Australia. There are probably still a few readers who remember how the site initially began - as a mere concept.
Anyway, to celebrate, two of our forumers, thebigm and GTPod, took it upon themselves to document the past half-decade of the forums and the main site. There have been a lot of memories over the five year span, and both of these forumers have seen a lot of things happen with the forums, including the highs and the lows. Here's their account:
"On March 17th, 2002, James (otherwise known as zemaj at the time - do you think people realised he just flipped the letters around the other way?) opened up the PALGN forums to all for the first time, with mass joy from gamers in PAL regions. The forums were off to a great beginning, with a few users reaching 1,000 posts in a matter of months, including SubElement, CerebralAssassin and BronzeTiger.
With this much activity, this naturally progressed into something bigger; forums were cool, but it was decided that this new community should be taken a step further, with a chatroom. Alas, the chatroom appears to have suffered some severe curse and died off quickly, due to a lack of interest.
The ever-popular Easter Egg Hunt was an idea that was well-received by many however, beginning in 2002. The objective was to try and "hunt" around the site and find little easter eggs. Unfortunately, the results of the hunt are now lost, and whilst another Easter Egg Hunt is often requested, it has only resurfaced in 2003 and 2004.
On June 24th 2002, PALGN's Internet Artificial Intelligence was introduced. The AI was soon renamed as "Amy", and was a large-scale project that drew a great deal of interest for PALGN and James. Amy was eventually switched off because of her abuse and spamming, but still occasionally makes an appearance. While Amy's days may be limited, we'll be launching another project shortly that we promise won't spam or abuse readers... Much.
2002 in general was a year of initiation for the forums, as the admins and staff soon made them presentable and usable, while also attracting members from all over PAL regions. The forums played host to many tricks and jokes by the members; one of which GTPod will never forget, and another of which will stick in the mind of every member of the time for a long while yet.
On 3rd February 2003, PALGN's frontpage launched. On 1st April, staff decided to play a bit of a trick on readers, with many of them thinking the site would become the PAL Girls Network, due to a sudden legal tug-of-war over the PALGN name. Unfortunately, during 2003 PALGN suffered a downtime of 65 days, which broke the community and lost many members. Forumers such as BronzeTiger, Ghazrat and SubElement were some of the first members, and their absence was sorely missed. Yet after the downtime had passed, things began to look up, and those who had stuck with the site were treated to a more reliable forum.
2004 marked an eventful year for the forums, with the forums undergoing a reshuffling yet again. Many forumers also had an opportunity to find out how much of a gambler they really are. We celebrated the joining of our 1000th member, and our top poster celebrated the incredible milestone of 1,043 posts. While our forums expanded quickly, PALGN also launched the first major promotion: the 12 Days of Christmas competition, which has become an annual event and a PALGN institution.
2005 proved that our readers are a speculative bunch of people, as they tried todecipher and decide what this new forum could be, as well as what this teaser was, in great depth. Another attempt at the revival of the chatroom was done, with ill fate. The end of the year saw off one of the most intriguing and complicated discussions in history, Girls!!!!!, whilst the 12 Days of Christmas Promo cemented itself as a mainstay to the site.
2006 was the year of celebration mainly, as admeister made his 500th, 1,500th, 2,000th and3,000th post. Theory made his 1,000th and 2,001st post celebrations, and onggie also made his 2,000th, while Mitchacho. Jim Dash, Andronicus, slapshakle, Frozencry, retroman and thebigm all hit 1,000 and The Cro turned 16 and reached 1,000 posts. We also happened to get our 4,000th and 5,000th member in 2006.
The Cro began the First Annual PALGN awards, rewarding improvement in members along with posting and graphical abilities. PALGN's Blogs launched in 2006 as well, where our members could devote a special place to talk about their loves, hates and innermost thoughts.
2006 was the bigger year for growth in the forums than any other year. PALGN attended the eGames and Entertainment Expo where we had an opportunity to meet a wide range of forumers, including Tootie_Kicks, nikack, admeister, theory, Scythian_Reaper, DarkYoshii, EvilHayama and Cerebral. If all goes to plan, we'll be seeing all of these members and more next year.
2007 has been another year of celebrations so far, with our 6,000th member, admeister reaching 4,000 posts along with Cerebral hitting 6,000, TheAnswer and Benno finally hitting 1,000, FrozenCry reaching 2,000 and everyone's favourite mod, ObsoletE, hitting the magic 10000 mark.
We would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the whole community past and present, to thank James, who has dedicated so much of his time, effort and money to the initiation, continuation and development of the website in general. Without his influence upon the PAL gaming world, many of us would be spending our time sniffing glue or beating up the elderly; for this, he should feel truly proud.
So all that remains to say is... Happy Birthday PALGN! May you only continue on the steady road to success you already know so well."
PALGN would like to extend its warm thanks to thebigm and GTPod for helping produce this article. Let us know your memories on PALGN's beginnings in the forum, and if you're still not a member yet, get involved now!