Does The End of EGM Spell Doom for Game Magazines? - Mania.com



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Does The End of EGM Spell Doom for Game Magazines?

Why EGM's death doesn't necessarily spell the end of printed game media

By Nadia Oxford     January 30, 2009


One of the last issues of EGM(2009).
© Ziff Davis Media

 

Before 2009 had aged a week, game-related message boards and news sites were ablaze with an announcement that jarred gamers out of their post-holiday hibernation: the 1UP Network had been sold to Hearst Media, and long-running game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly would cease publication immediately.
 
When a magazine exists long enough to grow alongside a generation of gaming pioneers--and even usher the children of said generation into game reviews, previews and columns--it seems untouchable. Times change, though: day turns to night, spring turns to winter and print media turns into online websites. EGM had twenty healthy years and a huge roster of talented editors and writers who deserve to be remembered fondly. From the convincing April Fool's jokes to the back-and-forth between the Review Crew, every gamer has at least one “Oh yeah! Remember when--” story about the magazine (and older gamers used to ponder the true identity of the mysterious writer Sushi-X).
 
Still Alive
 
Long before the death of EGM, it became apparent that the role of game magazines was fading, at least in America. Depending on your viewpoint, it seems as if magazines in their entirety have outlived their usefulness, as have newspapers. Realistically, printed media will endure for a while longer. Specialized trade magazines still sell, and some game magazines are finding comfortable niches that keep them out of obsolescence's reach.
 
But gamers make up a different demographic than subscribers who shuffle to the mailbox every month for their edition of Cat Fancy, and the readership for game magazines has altered considerably over the past ten years or so. Gaming is a hobby that centers around technology; it only makes sense that the same generation that grew up among game consoles and computers would take to the Internet like Pac-Man to a power pellet. We used to depend on publications like EGM for our game news and reviews, but the role of magazines lessened when acquiring news and opinions became as easy as opening Netscape.
 
New Audience
 
Magazines wisely began expanding their content beyond reviews, news and previews to include exclusive features, in-depth game designer interviews and even recollections about retro titles. This brand of varied content has sustained remaining publications since, but sadly, when an investor demands an instant return, game magazines are slow to return those numbers in spite of subscribers. Game magazines are certainly still enjoyed by many, but their necessity has been diluted.
 
Simply put, game magazines will survive, but they must fight in a hostile environment. Young gamers will continue to opt for the Internet over magazines. Pocket money doesn't come easy, and the early years of gaming sow a strong interest in news, reviews and a sense of community. Developer interviews and trim, well-edited features, which are becoming the life blood of game magazines, are of more interest to twenty- and- thirty-somethings.
 
The Children Aren't the Future
 
Any way you look at it, game publications have undeniably reached a transitional period: they're not for kids anymore. Those of us who grew up with gaming magazines and witnessed their boom in the early '90s can't help mourning for a generation who will never really know what it was like to wait an entire month for game news. Though that may sound like the kind of lamentation that should be preceded by anecdotes about walking to school uphill in the snow (both ways), it's strange to consider that there's no more need to milk every page of a game magazine for information. Kids no longer need to pore over every paragraph and flip the pages back and forth until they become worn. Even fun identity gimmicks like EGM's Sushi-X don't hold up in an age where Facebook, instant messaging and Wikipedia will unravel a mask of mystery in no time.
 
But anonymity isn't all it's cracked up to be. EGM had a tight writing community that has since broken up and gone off onto other projects. One way or another, you can find and follow a favorite writer, whether it's through another gaming website, or a blog, or a podcast.
 
In this way, EGM is not dead. Its state of matter has changed. We were fortunate to have known it for so long, and we're fortunate that the components that made it great will still be able to hang around in some capacity.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
1 
GhaleonZero 1/30/2009 6:41:57 AM

Don't forget about Game Informer, the magazine put out by GameStop (and yes I know the stigma of how GS pushes that and reservations, I happen to work at one, hehe). It not only sells more issues than every single gaming mag and computer mag COMBINED (no lie), it has no sign of slowing down. Plus... it it's actually a great mag.

I will miss EMG though. That and Nintendo Power were mainstays back in the day... god I'm old.

erikx111 1/30/2009 9:19:51 PM

Damn this makes me feel old. I remember pondering way back  when, "gee, are they ever going to reveal who sushi-x really is?" I remember the old absurb april fools jokes like the Sheng long trick for Street Fighter.  I remember Dan Shoe working his way through the ranks to editor in chief  before he moved on from the magazine and even way back when Ed Semrad (i think that's his name) use to run things.  Wow , the end of a generation.

michaelxaviermaelstrom 2/1/2009 6:39:40 AM

 

Excellent article, touched on all the key points.

Impressive, we've been discussing this in a collaborative think-tank, when similar Q: "are SF magazines dead?" was raised.

My conclusions fall along the same lines as the author above, and I summarized them with:

"Sometimes the medium is not the message, sometimes the message is the message".

To apply that here, If the same content that nominally would exist within EGM's print-zine, now moves to appearing online, can EGM really be said to no longer exist?

But this article prompts further consideration.

Particularly over the issue "what makes a magazine?" and the implications of the answers.

Is it the configuration of content or the configuration of writers/characters in that magazine during a particular period?

That's an interesting question, because that, as it previously existed, may well be lost if EGM writers splinter off to different online outlets.

on the other hand, it may also be augmented.

It also raises another interesting question.

The web 2.0 aspect ought allow some EGM writers to further expand on their personas, as they interact dynamically and instantly with netizens. 

and how will they translate when they transfer mediums?

I suspect some will resist interacting (most writers do, particularly those used to editorial style articles, they'll have the most difficulty) some will flourish under those new conditions, and some will be unable to adapt in a manner that uh augments their persona.

(in other words some will make every mistake in the book and either won't come off well or will be perceived as dicks - Ed)

In much the same way that when films moved from silent to talkies, a portion of silent film stars couldn't make the transition either because of unexpected audience-disjarring voices or simply because they couldn't speak very well.

Ditto, with the internet comes a whole new skill set to learn.

conclusion: as with every darwinian environment, those EGM writers best able to adapt to the net will survive.

Those that don't are still not out of luck though, they will just have to hire PR agents to fix up whatever initial blunders they make!

[Pathud]

mXm.

 

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1 

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