['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]
I heard the other day that The Newsfield Years
, a video documentary of one of the most influential game media companies in history, has been released. The 23-minute video, replete with tons of interview footage from Oliver Frey (above, right), Roger Kean and the rest of the main folks behind British titles CRASH, ZZAP!64 and so on, costs £2.49 to download.
I haven't seen the whole thing yet (a bit busy with work this weekend), but I intend to as soon as possible. One passage from the preview video sums up Newsfield's contribution to the industry really well, I think: "In 1983 Newsfield started production of their first reviewing magazine [...] CRASH. The first issue was published in January 1984. Newsfield took the innovative decision to use local teenage gamers to write the reviews. However, for software developers, teenage gamer reviewers presented one big problem...they told the truth."
To put it another way, CRASH and the rest took game coverage out of the hands of computer-mag editors and other "professionals" and gave it to gamers themselves -- a philosophy that still pretty much survives in nearly every media outlet today, for better or worse. For that alone, Newsfield's definitely carved out its place in history.
Let's go back to modern times for now, though. Click on to check out all the mags that have crossed my desk the past fortnight.
Edge February 2010
Cover: Halo: Reach
I am proud (for no good reason) to say that this month's Edge has a huge profile of the game development scene in Texas, covering outfits like id, Arkane, Sony Online Entertainment, and my hometown heroes at TimeGate Studios, just down US-59 a ways from my house. Even if you aren't in the business, the roundtable interview inside is pretty neat, featuring folks from SOE, BioWare, and others shooting the industry bull for eight pages -- no real theme to it, but fun nonetheless.
The cover piece, meanwhile, extends a bit on Game Informer's by framing itself more as a state-of-the-union on Bungie as the studio takes one final shot at Halo before moving on to the next big thing.
Along similar lines are the bits on Game Republic (Yoshiki Okamoto's company) and Tecmo's Quantum Theory, a game nobody treated seriously upon its debut -- a topic that the devs aren't afraid to tackle in the text -- but is actually getting some decent press these days.
GamePro March 2010
Cover: Medal of Honor
The second issue of GP's redesign picks up where the last one left off, with one slight addition -- a few more columns up front from folks like freelancer Robert Ashley and Japanese game-localization guy (and, in the interest of disclosure, my frequent boss) John Ricciardi. The effect's sort of like the monthly columns in the back of Edge, and I like it.
The mag's new emphasis on dev interviews and commentary is sharp as always, and I really enjoy it -- sort of like Play in that respect, but a great deal more focused and better written. The cover piece is the best one out of the lot this week, focusing on Mr. Davison's interview with three "Tier 1 Operators" and the goofy security hoops he went through to nab it. (The fact that real special-forces guys are so gung-ho about this game probably says a lot about EA's dedication with rebooting this franchise.)
Another piece -- "Digital Discrimination," an article about how video games have treated the concept of racism in their stories -- all but confirms the Edge-ness of the new GamePro. Neat, if extremely cerebral.
PlayStation: The Official Magazine March 2010
Cover: Crysis 2
The cover may say "PlayStation," but I'm getting flashbacks to the late, lamented (by me) Xbox Nation, what with Greg Orlando writing the cover story and Evan Shamoon contributing a piece on Yakuza 3 and a couple previews. Both features are nice, especially the latter with its crisp visual style.
Doug Perry puts in another PTOM appearance this month, too, although it's just a quick preview of Dante's Inferno.
Official Xbox Magazine March 2010
Cover: Lost Planet 2
The cover piece is a long preview feature -- one very similar to the roundups EGM did around the mid-aughts, right down to the fun little icons classifying the games being covered. I'm always a little bored of pieces like this, but the companion feature -- a basic "40 things we love about the 360" -- is quick fun.
Otherwise, the main draw of this issue is likely the BioShock 2 review.
PC Gamer March 2010
Cover: Mass Effect 2
I'm not exactly sure what's meant by calling the ME2 review "uncensored" -- I think that's just a way of saying it's a bit spoiler-y if you're worried about being absolutely virgin before playing. I was hoping to see the F-word in PC Gamer and everything, too. Aw, well.
Otherwise, it's a pretty typical issue, replete with a BioShock 2 review and a (kind of late) game-of-the-year roundup.
[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]