James "Milkman" Mielke is a veteran video games journalist, with the bulk of his career spent with Ziff Davis and its group of games publications. He is known for his ultra-competitive behavior, his nonchalant attitude, obsession with Final Fantasy XI, and intense confidence in his work and that of his team.
While bouncing around the various Ziff Davis properties, he has developed long lasting friendships with various game developers, specifically those from Japan. After the buyout of 1UP by UGO Entertainment and the subsequent closure of EGM Magazine, Mielke was laid off. However, in a blog dated January 20, 2009, he announced his return to 1up.com.
In the summer of the same year, Mielke left his job in the gaming media at 1UP for a position at Q? Entertainment. Being a huge electronic music nut, he left his footprint on games like Child of Eden and Lumines: Electronic Symphony and even got to work with one of his heroes, Tetsuya Mizuguchi.
Three years later, in June of 2012, James Mielke traded in one Q for another when he announced he'd be leaving Q? Entertainment and joining Q-Games, best known for their PixelJunk series.
James Mielke is a life time video game player, with his interest in games developing parallel to the industry's development as a whole. After becoming interested in import video games after the release of the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation, he decided to try his hands at video game reviews. He dedicated himself to a "critique" approach, as opposed to a Consumer Report product review, a paradigm he saw prevalent in video games journalism. After posting a review to AnimePlaystation.com, he was contacted by Joe Fielder to contribute reviews to Videogames.com. His first paid review was Theme Hospital for the PlayStation.
He first worked with EGM in their Lombard offices when GameSpot.com (then a partner of EGM) asked Mielke to write the strategy guide to the N64 title, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. His first proper article for EGM was an import game buyers guide, a 3,000 word article, that was featured in EGM's Legend of Zelda issue.
He was then offered a full time position for GameSpot and EGM, a choice he deliberated over for the better part of year while operating a bar in New York. Mielke finally decided to move to San Fransisco and take the GameSpot job, as opposed to the EGM position located in suburban Chicago.
Mielke states that in his time at GameSpot, he was being groomed for Joe Fielder's position, should Fielder leave the site. However, as time wore on, it became apparent that Jeff Gerstmann (currently of GiantBomb.com) was going to be selected for the position. After this revelation, and a couple of disputes he had internally at GameSpot, Mielke accepted a position with EGM, who had lost half their staff to dotcom start up Gamers.com. Mielke was able to stay in San Fransisco in his new position.
Ziff Davis Years
Mielke's role in EGM at the beginning was unique. As he was the sole employee of EGM working on the west coast, he dealt extensively with PR and previews and working with freelancers like Christian Nutt (now of Gamasutra.com) and Shane Bettenhausen (formerly of EGM/1UP.com, now with Ignition Entertainment).
After Softbank sold EGM and the rest of Ziff Davis to a venture capitalist firm, the EGM Chicago offices were relocated to San Fransisco, where Mielke's independent spirit conflicted with the more quiet EGM work day. His friction with new EGM Editor-in-Chief Dan "Shoe" Hsu led him to partner with Simon Cox (who was himself passed up for the EGM EIC position) which led to Mielke taking the position of Executive Editor on the new Ziff magazine GMR, an EB Games exclusive publication.
GMR has been lauded for its art direction and editorial stance, both of which saw major contribution and guidance from Mielke. While they published a quality product and had a very high subscriber rate, GMR was shut down when EB Games merged with GameStop, and their publication, Game Informer, was chosen over the Ziff published GMR as the chain's magazine.
After briefly leaving Ziff Davis, Mielke returned to develop content for the website side of the Ziff games group. During this time, he developed a reputation in his interviews, especially with Japanese developers. Often, his interviews with prominent members of the Japanese game development community would run into the thousands of words, in articles that were published over the course of a week, with integrated video.
Once John Davison left the Ziff games group, Mielke was promoted to EIC of Video Games, a role that placed him primarily as EIC of EGM, but also gave him significant clout over 1up.com editorial. Changes to EGM during his tenure as EIC included expanded coverage to Blu-ray discs and PC games (after the closure of GFW Magazine), as well as less emphasis on 3 person reviews, an EGM signature. One notable issue guided expressly by Mielke was a Japanese themed issue. The issue featured many aspects of gaming culture in Japan, but also took a look at the challenges faced by Japanese development in light of the rise of American influence and success within the industry.
Despite the high subscriber rate, EGM lost ad revenue, and in early 2009, Ziff transferred the games group to UGO Entertainment. This saw massive change in the games group, including 50% lay offs and the cancellation of many podcasts and video features. One of the major changes was the closure of EGM Magazine, as the sale of the games group did not include the magazine. Ziff Davis unceremoniously dropped the publication, with its final issue failing to see print. James Mielke was included in the massive layoffs by Ziff Davis prior to the transfer of their properties to UGO Entertainment.
Shortly thereafter, however, James Mielke was rehired by 1up, in a capacity that has yet to revealed. He claims in a blog entry that he will continue his unique form of editorial, guiding the current staff in much the same way he did in his previous posts within the Ziff Davis games group.
Mielke in Video Games
James Mielke appeared in Fatal Frame II as a ghost. His appearance is notable as it is considered one of the larger scares in the game.