July 13, 2005

A New Twist on the Gaming Magazine

by Nick Montfort · , 11:02 am

A certain documentary filmmaker who reads GTxA pointed out to me that the first issue of The Escapist is out. I don’t tend to be a big reader of PDF-based zines, but the “cover” of this one lured me in, and hey, there’s some interesting writing in here.

The magazine “covers gaming and gamer culture with a progressive editorial style.” An article by Jennifer Buckendorf takes on the stereotypical construction of the gamer as someone who plays FPSs (rather than Everquest or classic games) and who doesn’t pursue other hobbies, such as reading. Kieron Gillen investigates the nature of video game forms, answering those (such as a lawmaker bent on restricting video games) who see the simulation aspect of games as at odds with games being able to express anything. John Tynes argues that controller and display innovations (a la the Nintendo DS) are dead ends in a market where people want to push out the same standard game across as many platforms as possible.

In an article by “Tycho Brahe,” a chart relates the common chestnut, “Gaming is bigger than the Box Office – and has been since 2001,” while a caption goes on to explain “even more telling, gaming’s biggest release day is more than twice that of the biggest blockbuster day one to date.” Well, people don’t have to fit physically into a movie theater in order to get a game from a store; and they pay $60 instead of $10 for games. But this also is another sign that the distribution of first-day game revenues is more strongly peaked – the blockbusters are even bigger blockbusters, and, as we know, commercial indie games are more or less nonexistent. Throughout, this zine has other interesting bits of research, perspectives, and commentary.

The Escapist is edited by Julianne Greer. promises updates every weekend (also in PDF), and of course plans further issues to help fill the space between drooly popular gaming magazine and the sometimes impenetrable-seeming academic discourse. Welcome to the space!