The world of magazines

There are still a few video game magazines that shift some issues in print, Edge and Retrogamer are the two that immediately spring to mind to me, but by and large it’s now mostly online sites. It makes sense of course, the immediacy of publication of news, and the ability to put streaming video in, have all contributed to the demise of the magazine. Comment sections and forums have too, although whether this is a good thing or not depends on your point of view. Personally I think the comment section of the vast majority of gaming sites are toxic hazards that should be avoided at all costs but that’s another story.

My game magazine reading began in the early days of Your Sinclair and Sinclair User but didn’t really pick up proper momentum until the 16 bit days. Going to secondary school meant I had my bus fare and lunch money that I could not spend as intended and instead splurge on games and magazines to find out more about games.

By the time I bought my C64 I had already been buying ZZAP64! for several months to get an idea of what was worth buying and the same thing happened with my Atari ST and the magazine buying there. I think I preferred the multi format magazines overall because they gave me an insight into other platforms. It was probably the CVG insert Mean Machines (that eventually span out into a separate magazine) that got me in to console gaming and lead to the purchase of my Sega Megadrive, which I gamed on alongside my ST for many happy years.

Gaming journalism was different back then too. A large part of this was down to the lack of history- home gaming had been popular for under a decade, so pretty much everybody involved in magazines had been there at the start. Today, with over 35 years of gaming history, kids who get in to journalism now may have started on the PS2 if they’re lucky but more often than not, the PS3 or Xbox 360 are their starting point. I might think that Paperboy on the Spectrum is retro, they might consider Resident Evil 4 as old as the houses. Us old codgers want to read articles on games that contextualise them in the history of gaming, as well as review them in the context of a modern release.

Today there are a lot of people sitting at home reading articles or reviews who have more experience and know more than the people writing what they’re writing. It’s mostly due to being twice their age to be honest.

Anyway, back to the actual magazines! I think the magazine I remember with the fondest memories is probably ST Action or maybe ACE. I had some tips printed in ST Action but I actually got Letter of the Month in ACE. My prize, a “top game”, turned out to be the lowest scoring game that they’d reviewed on the Megadrive- some cruddy racing game that got 200 and something out of 1,000. I never forgave them for that. I also liked The One when it was multi-format because it was oversized with a matt finish and took things a bit more seriously than the other multi format magazines, or at least that’s how it seemed to a teenage me. I could be entirely wrong of course…

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