When Did Games Magazines Stop Being Fun?

The advent of the Internet as a viable form for the gaming media to exist in has been the biggest shake-up of our section of the industry since Pong, with the main source of information to the consumer changing from being static monthly magazines to the dynamic and interactive (not to mention mostly free) Internet. What I want to know is whether or not this quantum shift is what’s responsible for the metamorphosis of most magazines from fun reading into stoic Edge clones.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t bashing Edge. They’re one of the few publications that I trust with where my £40 goes and they do a great job of filling their little niche. In fact, they’re now the only games magazine that I buy on a regular basis (in addition to my subscriptions to IGN Insider and GameSpot Complete). My complaint is that it seems like every magazine is trying to be them.

Rewind ten years or so: I was buying Super Play, Nintendo Magazine System, and Gamesmaster every month and looking forward to what would become N64 Magazine. None of them had any illusions that games were high art and they’d make jokes and interact with the fan base, as well as have features that I still enjoy going back and reading today – pragmatic features on import gaming or creating a fanzine and tongue-in-cheek ones about things like gaming recipies or a gamer’s first visit to Japan. I still have my magazines on my bottom shelf and I can still kill a couple of hours by digging out a favourite issue and having a quick read.

Now the Official PS2 Magazine is a £5.99 advertorial, Official Nintendo Magazine has been shit since it changed from the NMS format, gamesTM is one of the most blatant Edge clones around (they’ve even manipulated scores based on Edge’s), and even the surviving magazines aimed at a younger audience like Gamesmaster have tried to realign themselves with teenagers. Edge are the only ones who consistenly write with conviction and intelligence.

Maybe it’s the fact that as many gamers are adults as are kids today, and it makes sense to cater your magazine to the ones with the disposible income, but something doesn’t have to stop being entertaining to be grown up. We need a well-written magazine for grown-ups that’s less Newsnight, more Have I Got News For You.

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