Print media were once the lifeblood of the gaming community, and now a new generation of lovingly assembled periodicals are bringing the scene back to life
If you were into video games in the 1980s or 90s, then along with your computer, your QuickShot joystick and your tape player, there was one other vital component of your set-up: a games magazine. For me it was Zzap! 64, a glossy mag dedicated to the Commodore 64 with brilliant, opinionated writers, excellent features, and an exhaustive tips section. I would rush to the newsagent on publication day, bring it home with almost religious reverence, then read it from cover to cover. And then I would go back and read it again. This was how I discovered new games such as Sentinel, Elite and Leaderboard, but also, through the letters page and competitions, joined a community of players, years before the world wide web allowed us all to get in contact. In the 80s, video game magazines were the internet.
In the mid-90s I was lucky enough to get a job at Future, one of the leading publishers of gaming magazines in Britain. This was the absolute heyday for the industry – as a writer on Edge magazine, I shared offices with the acclaimed Nintendo magazine Superplay, the wildly enthusiastic GamesMaster, the anarchic Amiga Power and a burgeoning Official PlayStation Magazine, which would go on to rival FHM and even the Radio Times in monthly circulation. Producing a magazine was a labour of love – a constant battle between our desire to play and cover everything and the restraints of page counts and print deadlines. Conveying the excitement of a new Resident Evil or Tekken title in prose, images and captions, was a skill that took months to learn.