Scorpia (journalist)

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Occupation video game journalist

Scorpia is the pseudonym of a video game journalist who was active from the early 1980s through the late 1990s. She wrote for Computer Gaming World , performing reviews on role-playing video games and adventure games. Scorpia was known for harsh criticism of video games she disliked. She was fired after CGW was sold to Ziff-Davis in 1999 and subsequently retired from games journalism. Her pseudonym is based on a character she created in a role-playing game.

<i>Computer Gaming World</i> American video game magazine

Computer Gaming World (CGW) was an American computer game magazine published between 1981 and 2006.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.




Scorpia became interested in computers after attending a computer expo. Her initial intention was to become a programmer, and she said she bought her first computer games to learn how to program. [1] In November 1982, while working as a data processing consultant, Scorpia co-founded an early gaming-related Special Interest Group on CompuServe. It became the eighth most popular forum on CompuServe, and Scorpia received free access to the subscription service in return for maintaining it. [2] As a system operator, she ran online conferences and hosted games. [3] The following year, Russ Sipe contacted her on CompuServe and invited her to write for Computer Gaming World ("CGW"). Scorpia agreed, though she had never read it. She reviewed role-playing video games and adventure games there for 16 years. [1]

A Special Interest Group (SIG) is a community within a larger organization with a shared interest in advancing a specific area of knowledge, learning or technology where members cooperate to affect or to produce solutions within their particular field, and may communicate, meet, and organize conferences. The term was used in 1961 by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an academic and professional computer society. SIG was later popularized on CompuServe, an early online service provider, where SIGs were a section of the service devoted to particular interests.

CompuServe was the first major commercial online service provider in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major influence through the mid-1990s. At its peak in the early 1990s, CIS was known for its online chat system, message forums covering a variety of topics, extensive software libraries for most computer platforms, and a series of popular online games, notably MegaWars III and Island of Kesmai. It also was known for its introduction of the GIF format for pictures, and as a GIF exchange mechanism.

Scorpia became a prominent reviewer in the industry. In addition to her writing and online presence, she provided hints to players who contacted her through a post office box. [4] [5] CGW billed her as "controversial", [1] and often published a Scorpia review together with another of the same game by a different reviewer. [6] She became known for harsh criticism of video games she disliked. Scorpia's review of Ultima VIII: Pagan was highlighted by GameSetWatch as one of the harshest video game reviews ever written. [7] Her review of Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World resulted in an angry response from the game's designer, Jon Van Caneghem, who named a monster after Scorpia in his next game. [8] While usually a fan of Infocom, she so disliked Infidel that she never mentioned it in print, although lambasting the game during an online chat with creator Mike Berlyn. [4]

<i>Ultima VIII: Pagan</i> video game

Ultima VIII: Pagan is a video game, the eighth part of the role-playing video game series Ultima. It was not as well-received as its predecessors, Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle. Developed in 1994, it is a DOS-only title and is also the first game in the series to be rated M in North America.

<i>Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World</i> video game

Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World is a role-playing video game developed and published by New World Computing in 1988. It is the sequel to Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum.

Jon Van Caneghem American video game designer

Jon Van Caneghem is an American video game director, designer and producer. He is best known for launching development studio New World Computing in 1983, making his design debut in 1986 with Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum. During the company's 20-year lifespan, Van Caneghem was involved in the creation and direction of several franchises, including the Might and Magic role-playing series and the spin-off Heroes of Might and Magic and King's Bounty strategy series.

CGW editor Johnny Wilson described Scorpia as "one of the most refreshing people you could ever meet" and praised her encyclopedic knowledge of games' puzzles. He cited one example where the two clashed, the role-playing game Darklands . Scorpia wrote a negative review that criticized the game's bugs, and Wilson attached an editorial sidebar that gave a more positive view. Wilson later acknowledged this was a bad idea, saying that Scorpia's fans correctly criticized him for undercutting her review and overlooking the game's flaws. Because the magazine required a reviewer to finish the game before publishing the review, Wilson said Scorpia favored linearity, resulting in unwarranted criticism of some open-ended works; CGW thus sometimes did not assign her such games. [9]

<i>Darklands</i> (video game) video game

Darklands is a role-playing video game developed and published by MicroProse in 1992 for the PC DOS platform, and re-released on with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Darklands is set in the Holy Roman Empire during the 15th century. While the geographic setting of the game is historically accurate, the game features many supernatural elements.

Scorpia was fired after CGW was sold to Ziff Davis in 1999. She said it was intimated to her that the magazine wanted to go in a different direction. She neither looked for further work in games journalism nor received any offers; she attributed her reputation for tough reviews as one possible reason for the latter. [10] Scorpia started a subscription webzine after this, but it failed when she could not find enough subscribers. [11] She subsequently started a free website, where she blogged. [1] She stopped updating the site in 2009 after saying that she was unable to afford a new computer needed to keep reviewing games. [12]

Ziff Davis company

Ziff Davis, LLC is an American publisher and Internet company. It was founded in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, by William Bernard Ziff Sr. and Bernard George Davis.

Personal life

Her pseudonym comes from role-playing games and is based on her astrological symbol, Scorpio. [1] She said she was already known as Scorpia because of her work in online communities and found it "more fitting" than her real name for her focus on role-playing games and adventure games. She values her privacy and cited that as another reason for using a pseudonym. [10] At CGW, only owner Sipe knew her real name. [9] Her favorite video game is Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar . [1]

Scorpio (astrology) eighth astrological sign in the zodiac

Scorpio is the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Scorpius. It spans 210°–240° ecliptic longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average from October 23 to November 22. Under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun is in Scorpio from approximately November 16 to December 15. Depending on which zodiac system one uses, an individual born under the influence of Scorpio may be called a Scorpio or a Scorpion.

<i>Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar</i> video game

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, first released in 1985 for the Apple II, is the fourth in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. It is the first in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy, shifting the series from the hack and slash, dungeon crawl gameplay of its "Age of Darkness" predecessors towards an ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach. Ultima IV has a much larger game world than its predecessors, with an overworld map sixteen times the size of Ultima III and puzzle-filled dungeon rooms to explore. Ultima IV further advances the franchise with dialog improvements, new means of travel and exploration, and world interactivity.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Scorpia's New Tale: An Interview With One of Gaming's Most Popular Columnists". 2006-10-24. Archived from the original on 2005-11-09. Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  2. Grey, Bernadette (June 1984). "Name of the Game". K-Power. Vol. 1 no. 5. Scholastic Corporation. p. 16.
  3. Mace, Scott (October 15, 1984). "Computer Games Get Social". InfoWorld . Vol. 6 no. 42.
  4. 1 2 Maher, Jimmy (2013-04-07). "Infidel". The Digital Antiquarian.
  5. Maher, Jimmy (2014-09-29). "Amnesia". The Digital Antiquarian.
  6. Bolingbroke, Chester (2015-06-14). "Eye of the Beholder: Final Rating". CRPG Addict.
  7. Gifford, Kevin (2010-03-07). "COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': The Nastiest Review Ever". GameSetWatch . Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  8. Barton, Matt (2008). Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. CRC Press. p. 189. ISBN   9781439865248.
  9. 1 2 Wilson, Johnny (2002-12-11). "THE WAY IT USED TO BE!". Just Adventure . Archived from the original on 2002-12-25. Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  10. 1 2 Dembo, Arinn (2010-08-12). "Gamazon: Seven Questions for Scorpia". Gamasutra . Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  11. Sluganski, Randy. "Scorpia". Just Adventure . Archived from the original on 2001-08-20. Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  12. Scorpia (2009-06-03). "Three Years Ago…". Retrieved 2016-12-08.