<< Portico: A new way of making a magazine?

6/17/2005

A new way of making a magazine?

The Gamer's Quarter has recently made its second issue available. It's a free download and a long PDF - over 100 pages - full of nice pictures, mediocre cartoons and lots of text. This is a New Games Journalism magazine.

Which apparently amounts to talking about games that no one plays any more.

I kid, but a lot of the analysis is pretty focused on memories of games that are long past. So it isn't journalism so much as it is criticism, but I think the writers would admit to that. This is about gaming like the New York Review of Books is about literature.

Only the NY Review mostly talks about books that people can buy. Most of this magazine is about stuff that is either barely remembered or completely inaccessible.

There is an interesting article in "defense" of New Games Journalism that, I think, goes too far in attacking "Old Games Journalism", but it is probably designed to ruffle feathers. Calling reviewers who get free games or industry access "pets" is as silly as calling Ben Brantley a pet of Broadway because he gets to see the shows for free. There is certainly a difference between most journalism and entertainment media ('cause that's what we are), but credibility depends on more than the fact that reviewers and previewers can get early access to bits and bytes. Because, unlike political journalists or the guy covering city hall, when an entertainment reviewer praises a piece of crap, the gamers know it. Too bad more of them don't pay attention to bylines.

Anyway, this magazine is not a bad thing. If people want to understand gaming as a cultural and social phenomenon, they have to move beyond the preview/review/cheats format that typifies game writing. And I think that gaming blogs and dedicated zines like The Gamers's Quarter are doing this.

But the magazine has also confirmed in my mind the lack of commercial appeal for this sort of thing. The thing about gamers is that they don't take their hobby all that seriously. (I loved the GQ article on "Pongism" because it was so irreverent.) But media criticism does, to some extent, require that you take a long hard look at your medium. Plus, gamers who read magazines are also the type who tell you that you are a pompous ass on the Internet.

I would love for The Gamer's Quarter to take on some more current games or at least place more of the nostalgia in a context that young gamers can understand. I've been at this a while - I get where they are coming from. But just as this discussion of summer movies posits a time when blockbusters did not rule the earth, good criticism should bring past and present together.

I will keep reading, though.

1 Comments:

Anonymous steve said...

While I think we could all agree that it's problematic that the industry is in a constant state of, "But look at what's just around the corner," I'm not sure the push toward nostalgia is any better.

Yeah, some games were better. Most weren't. Big whoop. Most of our fondest gaming moments are tied to youth, or other life-changing events outside of gaming. Everything is better when experienced the first time. Well, maybe not everything...

6/17/2005 05:21:00 PM  

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