The Escapist was created back in July 2005 with a very small team - 6 people, to be exact. Today, 36 people work full-time on The Escapist, and dozens more freelance for us. In our first month of publication, The Escapist reached 30,000 readers. Last month, we reached 3.81 million readers. In 2009 alone, traffic grew 52% and each month we set a new record for audience size. We also added a second Webby Award for Best Video-Game Related Website in 2009, and a Mashable Open Web Award for Best Online Magazine. (Incidentally, Hulu won for Best Online TV Network and The New York Times won for Best Online Newspaper, although the Times has not yet started to call itself "The Escapist of Daily Newspapers.")

It was a great year for The Escapist, in short, despite the worst recession since the invention of videogames. That calls for thanks - thanks to our investors for their stalwart support of our efforts; to all the brilliant writers, producers, columnists, contributors, and community members who share their creativity with us; and most of all to the hard-working team of grognards who man the barricades at 2530 Meridian Parkway every day.

Since we're ending 2009 on a high note, it seems fitting to close out the year with a "Best Of" issue. I thus present four of our editorial board's favorite articles from the past year. In "Kill Billy," Brendan Main ponders his propensity for virtual goat-slaying. In "Gaming Isn't Brain Surgery," Rich Retractor explains how his career as a brain surgeon leaves little room for games - and why that makes them even more important to him. In "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That," Robert Yang recalls his experience developing a Half-Life 2 mod featuring gay characters, and the response it provoked. And, finally, Jeremy Monken recounts his last days a GM for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in "Casualty of Warhammer."

If you saw these articles on their first publication, I hope you'll give them the second read they merit. If this is your first exposure, you're in for a taste of some of the finest journalism that gaming has to offer. They are, after all, the Best of the "Best Online Magazine" on the web.

Enjoy the issue, and enjoy the New Year! Next time you hear from us, it'll be a brave new decade. See you... in the Future.

Best regards,
Alex Macris
Publisher, The Escapist

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