['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]

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I have a couple of obituaries to write this week -- one which you might be aware of already, and one which I'm approximately 99% sure you aren't but is just as historically important.

First off, as you may have heard, Ziff Davis Media's Computer Gaming World is going to be no more after issue number 267 in October. In its place, a November/December launch date is set for Games for Windows: The Official Magazine, an alliance with Microsoft as part of the giant's efforts to rebrand and revitalize the PC game marketplace. I've never seen the "Games for Windows" brand outside of E3 or the Game Developers Conference, but Microsoft's apparently getting really, really serious about pushing it this fall, getting it on store kiosks and game boxes and everything.

Editor-in-chief Jeff Green was quick to assure people this week that GFW would not be "nerfed", so to speak -- the new magazine would still be oriented towards hardcore gamers ("You are not going to see a three page article on Minesweeper," he told FiringSquad, although that would be pretty cool to see, actually), and many of the columns that CGW is known for, including the Tom vs. Bruce gameplay diaries, will stay in the new magazine. However, Ziff's own press release stated that CGW's staff would be "broadening the outlet's reach, influence and editorial content to complement the coming renaissance in Windows gaming," which seems to indicate at least a nod towards the Freecell crowd.

It wouldn't be the first time that CGW has reinvented itself. The magazine launched almost simultaneously with Electronic Games in 1981, but unlike EG and many of its imitators, it kept a very low profile, keeping page counts small and limiting circulation to several thousand copies. It didn't seriously try to grow until 1986, when it expanded to nine issues a year. This soon changed to monthly, and before long CGW was the top pretender to the throne in what was a very crowded PC magazine scene in the early '90s. However, CGW was woefully unprepared for the revolution that Wolfenstein 3D and other "only on the PC" action games brought to the scene -- by the time the mag was sold to Ziff in 1993, CGW's coverage was still chiefly targeted at fans of hardcore RPGs, wargames and flight simulators. If it wasn't for the new Ziff staff re-targeting the mag toward younger non-pipe-smoking types, it may not even exist today.

One could argue that CGW -- and PC game mags in general -- are due for another revolution. Of course, CGW's been trying its hardest to foment just such a revolution, completely revamping its reviews and aiming to become less a definitive PC game source (like PC Gamer) and more a supplement to a gamer's computer life, something to read alongside IGN et al. or while waiting for the WoW patch to download. It may be that this is exactly what Ziff should be doing (and that's what I believe, certainly), but the old Computer Gaming World name was preventing the mag from finding a new audience that would resonate with it fully. (Then again, it may be that Ziff loves Microsoft moneyhats just like everyone else. You can't discount that.)

Still, although the new magazine title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, I look forward to seeing how both Ziff and Microsoft try to tackle the PC games scene of the next five years.

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My second eulogy this week is for Lawrence Falk, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Rainbow magazine. He died in June of a heart attack at the age of 63 after serving as mayor of Prospect, Kentucky (a Louisville suburb) for 13 years.

You probably haven't heard of The Rainbow, mainly because its subject matter -- the Tandy Color Computer series -- was by-and-large the laughing stock of the playground computer-game scene for most of the 80s. But The Rainbow was actually the longest-lasting of the great 8-bit computer mags in the US, running uninterrupted from July 1981 to May 1993 for a total of 143 issues.

Although I've admittedly never touched a real CoCo in my life, I have nearly all of these issues -- from the very early newsletters (typed on a CoCo and output on a cheapo printer without any descenders on the 'p', 'y', 'j' or 'g' characters), to the massive 300-page tomes from 1983 to 1986, to the tabloid-sized newsprint issues at the very end. The computer it covers may not be first-class, but the magazine itself is, because it embodies pretty much everything that was right about the early computer marketplace. Every issue is packed with ways to truly use your computer, whether it be BASIC or assembly programming, electronics projects, or games and little applications you type in yourself.

There are mounds of black-and-white ads from dozens of basement companies, most run by one guy hoping to become the next Lord British with his bold new interpretation of Asteroids. The letters section is vast and passionate, constantly railing on Tandy's terrible customer support at a time when there was no easily accessible Internet to nerd-rage on. In short, there was real grassroots passion in The Rainbow's pages -- a sort you can still feel reading the mag today, and the kind that was pretty much run out of computer magazines completely by the mid-1990s.

There was a project afoot to scan and distrube the entire Rainbow library on DVD with Falk's permission. The bulk of the work is already done, but the future of the project is unclear now that it has to deal with Falk's estate instead of the man himself. I certainly hope that any legal issues are worked out quickly, though -- if you miss how computer mags used to be, a DVD Rainbow collection would be pure heaven to browse through.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He owns enough magazines to smother himself with should the need arise, and his secret fantasy is for someone flush with game-publisher stock options to give him a monthly stipend so he can spend a year researching their full history and finishing the site. In his "off" time he is an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]