In memory of Astrid Beulink
It is with heavy heart that I must share the news of the recent passing of a dear friend and Adventure Gamers colleague, Astrid Beulink, after a lengthy battle with cancer that she fought courageously until the far-too-early end.
Her name may not be instantly familiar to many of you, and to some she may be better known by her familiar social media nicknames, PolloDiablo or Pollo Dia. But behind the scenes, the entire adventure gaming community has been blessed by her tireless efforts and unwavering devotion over the years. Whether through her passionate support of crowdfunding campaigns, beta testing for indie developers, or her many contributions on behalf of Adventure Gamers, no one did more for less fanfare than Astrid Beulink. And really, that was Astrid: She never sought attention, never demanded credit. To her, it was always about the games and the people who made them, and she was here to support them.
Already a long-time member of the Adventure Gamers forums, Astrid first joined AG staff back in September 2010. She was an experienced Dutch reviewer at the time, but as a non-native English speaker she was hesitant to take the plunge into unfamiliar linguistic territory. It speaks to her character that even then Astrid had the fortitude to put ego aside in pursuit of her ultimate goal. And indeed, there were a few humbling edits in those early days. But as with all things Astrid set her mind to, she listened and learned and continued to improve, determined to be the best she could be. And she succeeded admirably, eventually becoming one of the site’s most reliable writers.
Her position at AG also brought another welcome luxury that I’d long coveted – a personal presence at the major games conventions in Germany. The gamescom in Cologne is the place to be for adventure journalists each summer, and every year Astrid worked exhaustively to meet with developers and report on dozens of games. Not content to stop there, she even made the trip to London for the 2013 AdventureX convention. She dearly wished to attend this year's expo as well, but was simply too sick to risk it, a reality her husband Remy says hurt far more than she showed, as she wanted it to be "her last adventure-related gig".
Astrid was already seriously ill and undergoing treatment by the time gamescom rolled around last August. (And as anyone touched by cancer can attest, radiation and chemotherapy can often feel as torturous as the disease.) But did that stop Astrid? Not a chance! More committed than ever, Astrid made the trip once again, booked her time solid with appointments for three days straight, and still had the strength of will to write up an extensive report of her experiences when she got home. It was a schedule that could bring healthy journalists to their knees, but Astrid did it without complaint or excuse. I can only imagine what such an enormously draining task took out of her.
Little did I know all this time that Astrid’s presence at these conventions benefited everyone she met as much as me as her editor and all the adventure fans who eagerly read her work. Or rather, I DID know even though I wasn’t witnessing it first-hand, because with Astrid how could it possibly be otherwise? Sure enough, those who were there have nothing but the fondest memories of Astrid, and the utmost respect for her rare ability to mix perfect professionalism with youthful enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, the news of her death touched many of them deeply, such as those who wished to share their thoughts and impressions of Astrid personally.
Agustín Cordes, Senscape
Agustín shared a rare photo opportunity with Astrid at gamescom 2011
I’ve known Astrid for years as she was a passionate beta-tester of Scratches. I feel fortunate to have worked with her as she was truly focused and supportive. It wasn’t a case of merely reporting bugs but a keen attention to detail and a fresh perspective that have influenced the outcome of the game, from observations about the interface to difficulty of puzzles. Over the years she beta-tested dozens of games and I'm sure many friends and developers will attest to her restless dedication and huge devotion to adventure games, even during her illness. Three weeks ago, on New Year’s Eve of all dates, she took the time to report a most silly spam post in our forums titled “Here is Practical Explanation about Next Life, Purpose of Human Life”. Her words on the matter, very appropriate, were simply “what the $#%%^^?”.
Her remarkable achievements as a beta-tester and journalist are but one aspect of her charming persona. Most importantly, Astrid was a marvelous friend. Being with her, talking to her, just feeling her presence was amazing. When she told us about her illness, she immediately wished to spend another Gamescom with her friends. Really, that’s all she wanted – and fortunately, we all had a great time last year. It’s this wholeheartedness and simplicity that I will most remember of her.
I don’t know what the purpose of human life is, if there is any, but I know for sure that life is so much better when there’s people like Astrid around. We will miss you very, very much dear friend, and I will lovingly remember you as you embark on the grand final adventure.
Dave Gilbert, Wadjet Eye Games
I mostly knew Astrid through the adventure game development scene, and she was a regular beta tester of ours. She was testing for us and giving detailed reports as recent as a month ago. I had no idea that things had progressed so badly. I was fortunate to have met her in person once, at the AdventureX conference in 2013. It was memorable because it was the first and only time I was ever asked for an autograph. She had a DVD copy of Blackwell and a special white pen that could write on it. I was quite flattered.
She was loved by many and will be missed. RIP Astrid.
Kimara Rouwit, Critical Hit PR
Lieve Astrid. It seems only yesterday that I first met you. In 2010 I was at work at our gamescom booth and there you were, ready to meet our team. You were radiating the kind of excitement and tension that reminded me somewhat of myself when years and years ago, I went to meet someone who I had met online and later became one of my closest friends. What I mean to say is that I felt like you actually cared about these people that you met due to a common love for (adventure) games, even if it was only once a year – a beautiful and admirable quality. Over time you’ve become a friendly, familiar face and I came to look forward to our little meetings and chats that felt less and less like business every time. I’m thoroughly sad and sorry that I had to miss you at what turned out to be your last gamescom. Your memory will be with me and many others in the years to come. Rust zacht, lieve Astrid.
Laney Berry, Classroom Graffiti Productions
Astrid was quite simply one of the most warm, genuine and open-hearted people I've had the honour of meeting. She was the kind of person who immediately made you feel at ease, just by spending time with her. I met her during my first time at Gamescom, and despite the fact that I hardly knew anyone there, and she and I hadn't had any prior online contact, she immediately treated me like a close friend, joking, trading gaming anecdotes, and introducing me to everyone she knew. Her enthusiasm for the genre – not just the games themselves, but the developers and the fans as well – radiated through her at all times. Even once the illness had weakened her body, there she was at Gamescom last August, as cheerful, positive, and excited as ever. Nothing could dampen her spirit.
While the adventure game world has truly lost one of its brightest lights, it is nonetheless far richer due to all of the lives she touched, and I hope her influence will continue to carry on past her unfairly short time in this world.
Jan Kavan, CBE
Astrid between Jan Kavan and Lukáš Medek at the Kölner Dom, August 2013
The year was 2011, when you surprised me in the dark of the Adventure-Treff party in Cologne, carrying a box with Ghost in the Sheet and asking me for an autograph. I was surprised that anyone would want an autograph for that game, but very soon I learned how incredibly supportive to all the developers you were. We talked and talked about our beloved games and soon it became evident how adventure games are part of our world in an extremely similar way. Since then, I've always looked forward to meeting you every year, if only to have a cup of coffee and passionately discuss a game or two. And in the meantime, I was happy for an online space where we could – albeit virtually – meet to exchange a word or two.
You've been supporting the whole genre throughout the worst time of your life and being a strong person, you'd never complain. You merely stated – in an extremely analytical way – a reason why you are in pain and moved on to back even more games, beta test others, report about all the unknown guys like us and generally support everyone who tried to enrich the world of adventure games.
At the end of October 2014, I got a message from you, where you thanked me for making J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars, because you really enjoyed it and thought that it might well be the very last game you would ever play. I tried to convince you otherwise, but you were unfortunately once again right.
When I played that Bach's gigue for Ingmar's “birthday event” at the pub, and you were so happy about that, I promised you that I'd come to the Netherlands and invite you to my concert there. Little did we know back then how unfair and fast a turn your life would take.
Now you are not here and the gap you've left can't be ever filled again. I just hope that wherever you are, there are some cool adventure games without slider puzzles and needless backtracking we often ridiculed over a cup of coffee.
Rest in peace.
Charles Cecil, Revolution Software
Astrid was a wonderfully gracious woman with a passion for adventure games. It was always such a pleasure to be interviewed by her.
She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Mike Morrison, Digital Media Workshop
"Pollo Diablo". That name showed up everywhere. It would appear in the closing credits, in guides, in help/support threads, in Kickstarter. It was like a study in branding. By the time you had been poking around the adventure game community for a few weeks, you'd been hit with so many impressions of that name, "Pollo Diablo", that you knew of her – even if you didn't know how you knew of her. She had become such an intrinsic part of the community that you couldn't NOT know of her. That was Astrid. She was everywhere and her passion for adventure games was undeniable.
Josué Monchan, Pendulo Studios
I've been to Gamescom as a developer, as a freelance localizer and as a journalist. In all cases, the show has been a craze: you divide each one of the 3 days into 30 minute slots and hold around 40 different 25-minute meetings, saving 5 minutes to go from one crowded meeting place to another crowded meeting place, where you would find someone as stressed and lost and tired as you.
In that sea of turmoil, Astrid was an island. Having appointed a meeting with her was the best thing you could do for your mental health. It was like getting a free 25 minutes of peace, of positivity – and, paradoxically, of passion. Passionate people tend to be stressed, and video games are a passionate media, but she managed to communicate passion with calmness. I will miss those rare moments.
Ingmar Böke, Adventure Gamers
Astrid's love of adventures extended even to her handmade crafts, like the Tentacles and The Inner World's Peck the pigeon
I last saw Astrid at our annual developer dinner at Gamescom 2014. A few weeks later she sent me an email that told me about her terrible diagnosis. That was when I sadly realized she was also at Gamescom to say goodbye to people who had become friends over the years. A few days after that, I received a package from Astrid – including three crochet characters from well-known adventure games that she'd made. Can you believe this? She was facing death, and still wanted to put a smile on the face of someone else! Weren’t we supposed to put a smile on HER face? Well, that was Astrid. Never making a big deal of herself, even though she had many reasons to do so. Our remaining group of friends will hopefully meet many more times in the future, but each time we will be painfully aware that one of us is missing. This will make us appreciate the precious hours even more that we were able to spend with her. Thank you, Astrid!
I would also like to express my sincerest condolences to Astrid's husband Remy, and to everyone else that was important to her.
Jonas Kyratzes (Ithaka of the Clouds)
I didn't know Astrid very well personally, but she tested the very first Lands of Dream game, ages ago, when we had few fans and every little bit of support was a huge deal. She took the time to help us, even though it was just a weird little freeware game and there was no payment involved. It may not seem like much in a time when people actually pay to play alpha versions and "indie" is a huge industry, but back then these small acts of kindness were all we were running on.
Well, actually... they probably still are.
When I heard about her death, I opened my projects folder and ran The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge. I looked at her name in the credits and thought of how much time has passed since we made that game, how far we've come – and how it would've been impossible without the support of so many kind people like Astrid, people I don't know well personally, but who changed my life for the better. Then I found a new bug introduced by Windows 7, an irony which I'm sure she would've appreciated.
Here's to the kind people who make a difference. Thanks, Astrid. See you in the Lands of Dream.
Jan Schneider, Adventure-Treff
I usually met Astrid at games conventions, and it was always a pleasure. She was an incredible supporter of adventure games, as a beta tester, as an editor, a contributor, backer and as a gamer, of course. I was so happy she was able to come to this year's Adventure-Treff party at gamescom, despite her illness. We have lost a wonderful person and a friend, and I send my sincere condolences to her family.
Oded Sharon (Bolt Riley)
The world has lost one of its greatest heroes of adventure games. Astrid was one of my biggest supporters from the very first game I made, as well as to many other developers and a friend to many other adventure gamers. I had the absolute honor meeting her in person and knowing her online through the years. She will be missed.
Stephen Brown, Adventure Gamers
I only met Astrid in person once, when we covered AdventureX 2013 together. I thought I was prepared by knowing who the developers taking part were. Astrid seemed to know most of them personally, and appeared to be good friends with our colleagues from Adventure-Treff as well. I have always considered myself a fan of adventure games, but Astrid’s enthusiasm for the genre was something else. She made sure developers knew about it as well, getting more than one to autograph DVD cases of their games for her. It was truly a pleasure to work with her covering the convention.
She had still been hoping to make it to AdventureX 2014 up to a few weeks beforehand. Had she done so, I have no doubt that nothing could have prevented her from writing about this gathering dedicated to the genre she loved. In her absence, I really had no choice but to throw myself wholeheartedly into covering as much as I physically could of the event. If she couldn’t be there in person, I wanted her to be able to feel she made it in spirit. Whilst she will never get to play some of them herself, I know how happy she would have been to see how adventure games are thriving.
Luis Olivan and Fictiorama Studios
AdventureX 2013 was the first time we attended a video games event as exhibitors. We were as nervous about all the work the event involved… as for knowing someone from Adventure Gamers was going to try the game! We knew that Astrid was one of the writers attending the event, since a common friend introduced us over email. I can tell you I was incredibly nervous thinking about the moment she attended our demonstration of Dead Synchronicity and sat to try the game. However, once we personally met her, our anxiety disappeared: her calm and her kindness, mixed with what I guessed was a bit of shyness, immediately comforted us… and we knew everything was going to be alright. And, in fact, everything was alright.
Thanks SO MUCH, Astrid, for your your vigorous, relentless… and collected support of the adventure community.
Batu Eritenel (Laranzuh)
We got to know Astrid at Gamescom in 2012, though unfortunately for too short a time. She impressed us with her curiosity about our game, and her enthusiasm in trying to find out more about it. We actually even talked about future beta-testing, which she couldn’t wait to be a part of. We had a chance to meet her again at the party organized by Adventure-Treff, where she was so kind to introduce us to adventure fans and developers. There she drew our attention with her gentle, warm, enthusiastic and fun-loving way.
She was very passionate about adventure games. Sadly the adventure game community has lost a very valuable person. Our condolences go out to her family, friends and everybody who knew her. She will be truly missed, may her soul rest in peace.
Harald Bastiaanse, Adventure Gamers
If she hadn't told me herself, I might not even have realized that Astrid had cancer. Whenever I saw her at gamescom, she seemed to always be in a good mood and full of energy, certainly more so than I even though she took on significantly more of the work. Last year in particular had me jealously wondering how anyone could manage to pull off that much, and that was without thinking of her as a patient. That such a strong woman was still taken before her time came as a shock to me, and feels unfair. My condolences to her family and friends.
Sascha Pongratz, Adventure-Treff
With all her Kickstarter backing and involvement with developers and the adventure game community, one never seemed to get the idea that Astrid was ill, because she put so much energy into these things.
Astrid (bottom left) with Agustín Cordes and fellow Asylum backers, just one of many Kickstarters Astrid devotedly supported
I've known Astrid for quite some time, as early as 2009 when I first became an editor of Adventure-Treff. This was at the first ever community get together in Cologne during Gamescom. I joined this event without knowing anyone, not even the faces of the developers. But Astrid was one of the first people I had a conversation with, and we talked in English. We continued to talk in the years to follow, and she was usually the first one I spoke to during these events. I remember we talked about her lack of reflexes for critical time-based games, like action sequences in adventure games. And when I said I'm not a big fan of first-person adventure games, she recommended Scratches. That's how I got to know Agustín Cordes, whom I also became friends with.
Something I especially liked about Astrid was that she would listen attentively and never force her opinion on anyone. It wasn't that she didn't have opinions, she just knew how to talk to people in the kindest possible way. This is something sorely lacking from so many comments in social media, with people often being self-centred or abusive. Astrid always contributed, never offended or showed off.
Astrid was an exceptional person, not only in the adventure game community online, but also in real life. Her enthusiasm, positive thinking and kindness are what I'll remember the most, and I cherish every fun conversation we had.
Becky Waxman, Adventure Gamers
Astrid was an intrepid gamer who could coax ancient adventures to run on a modern computer. She never gave up on older games, and would try from time to time to reinstall the ones that had been problematic in the past.
I sent her a few games she hadn’t yet added to her collection – including SPQR: The Empire’s Darkest Hour and Scooby Doo! Jinx at the Sphinx (Astrid’s taste in games was diverse). Some time later she wrote conscientiously to let me know that she might not be able to finish the games right away, as she had just received her cancer diagnosis. She said she would be installing and playing in between the radiation and chemotherapy and surgery, so the medical procedures might slow her gaming down a tad. I was astonished that she was worrying about my feelings – knowing how eager I was to learn her opinion of the games – at a time when most people would be thinking strictly about their own health. Her keen concern for the needs of others was extraordinary and extraordinarily endearing.
I will miss Astrid’s empathy, her helpfulness, and her intrepid spirit. It was a privilege to know her.
Raymond Snippe, Iceberg Interactive
I was saddened to hear of Astrid’s passing. I worked with her on several adventure games, dating back to 2008. More recently Astrid helped out our QA team on testing adventure games that were released under the Iceberg flag, such as Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok and Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage. In addition to her love for QA and testing, Astrid was also a person that was very much interested in our industry in general. She would often visit our booth at Gamescom just to sit down with the team, talk to our developers, or discuss any upcoming titles. During those conversations she would give us constructive and useful feedback on our games or share leads on new start-ups or developers looking for a publishing deal.
Not long ago I heard about a theory that states that reality is an illusion and the world we live in might well be a simulation. An epic computer program or game, capable of simulating our lives and our reality. If this is the case and we are just sims, I hope its creators will now hire Astrid to lead the QA team – I would be delighted to write her a letter of recommendation.
Our thoughts go out to her family and friends. She will be missed.
Kristian Fosh (Jason the Greek)
Astrid was an incredible support to me in my campaign and one of the many who I had come to call a friend.
Our days have lost some of their light but our night has gained a most beautiful star in its sky.
I will think of Astrid as I make sure her character gets pride of place in my game. She will be missed.
Michael Stein and the rest of the Adventure-Treff team
We met Astrid a few times at gamescom and AdventureX, and it was always a pleasure. She was a great person and also a big adventure game lover. We're all really sorry she passed away. All our best wishes go to her family and friends.
Jan Theysen, KING Art Games
I met Astrid at Gamescom three times and always looked forward to talking to her. The adventure community lost a very kind and always supportive role model.
Martina Santoro, Okam Studio
Astrid was amazing to us, supporting and just very generous with her time in order to help us make a better game, a better press kit... just amazing. We are very sad to hear this. We will always remember her. Our sincere condolences to her husband, her family and friends.
I never met Astrid Beulink. Given her usual camera shyness, I’d have probably breezed right past her on the street. And yet, thanks to the wonder of the internet, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work closely with her these last several years. Even after her initial diagnosis, though she began writing less, she took on increased responsibility for coordinating new game details and crowdfunding campaigns. No one ever even knew. Who DOES that?! Who gets sick and takes on EXTRA duties for absolutely zero acclaim? Astrid Beulink, that’s who.
Her last message to me, less than a week before she died, was to tell me I’d let a typo slip through on our latest article. I fixed the error, laughed, and responded to her that I was glad someone was on the ball. That may seem like a trivial final anecdote, yet in many ways it encapsulates Astrid perfectly: right to the end, she was still looking out for the best interests of others, and for the adventure genre in general. She was determined to do whatever she could to leave her mark, no matter how small, and to do it all with an ever-positive outlook.
The adventure game community is a darker place today, having lost one of its cherished members, a true one-of-a-kind. Astrid will be dearly missed, and never replaced. But nor will her life ever be forgotten. In her own words, conveyed by her husband, Astrid implores us with this message: “Please continue working on our shared hobby: create awesome adventure games, write about them, review them..." Remy went on to add, "Astrid was proud to have made a small contribution to what she believed helped improve the genre by beta testing and writing about the games she loved.”
We will, Astrid, we will.
To those who remain: Treasure each day and be good to each other. Adventures are fun and games, but life is a precious gift.
To Astrid: Thank you for everything you’ve done, and the cheerful way you’ve always done it. You’re an inspiration to all of those privileged to know you, and we’ll do our very best to honour your memory. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Update: After reading the heartfelt tribute by those touched by Astrid's life, her parents wished to share their appreciation personally with the adventure community:
At Adventure Gamers we did read a lot of memories about our daughter Astrid. Thank you so much for all those condolences and warm reactions.
Her girl's name was Astrid de Groen, after her marriage with Remy Beulink, she changed her surname to Beulink. We knew that our daughter always was very active with so called computer games, (but we never played any game like that).
We have seen comments as: “Astrid was an exceptional person”, we agree.
And: “It was a privilege to know her”. Indeed, it was a privilege to have Astrid as a daughter.
She was a very bright child, when she was 2 years old she could recognise the big letter P at parking places, that’s the P of Papa! she yelled many times. She could read well at the age of 5 years. We have seen her birth, we have had the pleasure to see her growing up and making her studies, (which were always hassle-free), we have seen her happy with Remy and we have seen her illness and her passing away at the age of only 45 years.
The cremation has been at January 22th. We miss her.
Again, many thanks for the warm reactions.
Wim and Hannie de Groen,
parents of Astrid Beulink-de Groen.
We, in turn, would like to express our sincerest condolences to both the de Groens and Remy Beulink. We miss Astrid too.