['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.]


It's almost Christmas time, so how about a few stocking-stuffer-ish tidbits of magazine trivia, picked from the two most recent additions to the collection?

Veteran game-media person Christian Nutt sent me this copy of French magazine RPG Univers the other day. Here's what he had to say about it on his personal blog:

"In August of 2006 I went on a trip to Paris for GamesRadar/Call of Duty 3. At Charles de Gualle on the way back, I found this strange magazine at the newsagent. Beside myself, I bought it. I mean, a whole magazine about RPGs? With Valkyrie Profile 2 on the cover? I can't read French, but it's so hilarious and, well, enviable.

So the magazine itself is entirely feature articles (it doesn't do reviews -- that's left to its sister magazine, Gameplay RPG, with the tagline "Le premier magazine RPG et survival-horror"). We've got huge looks at VP Lenneth (PSP) and VP2 (PS2) as well as a page on Motoi Sakuraba (no interview). There's a Suikoden retrospective, a Golden Sun retrospective, and an article about Norse mythology (which ties in to VP) and one on J.R.R. Tolkien (which ties into nerdface.)

Judging from my good knowledge of magazines and my weak knowledge of French, it's enthusiastic amateur hour -- boring superrepetitive layout, no access (no interviews whatsoever, no implication of any early release code, English screenshots in a French magazine), fanboyism (scans of maps that came with the Japanese versions of Golden Sun, one of which takes up an entire page!). Basically, it looks like the editorial staff is as ultraniche as the magazine itself, which is to be expected."

Mr. Nutt sums up the content pretty well. There's also an introduction/tutorial for RPG Maker XP, with interviews of a couple French designers who've created games with it. Like Christian, I found it a little odd that they used a mix of English and Japanese screenshots to illustrate their Golden Sun feature, 'cos both GBA games certainly came out in French.

RPG Univers was a side-mag from the editors of Gameplay RPG, a monthly title that debuted April 2000 from publisher Groupe FJM Communication & Publications, an outfit primarily associated with French game and lad mags. The title was pretty successful, getting bought by another company after FJM's September 2006 bankruptcy (just after this third issue of RPG Univers was published) and surviving until October '08 for a total of 101 issues, plus assorted specials.

One or two of the old editors moved over to another publisher in 2005 and launched an RPG-specific mag of their own, straightforwardly titled Role Playing Game, which is still in publication today. I don't know anything about that mag, but if it's as hands-off and fanzine-ish as this one, I don't think non-francophones are missing much.

cccard-1.jpg   cccard-2.jpg

Switching gears completely, here is something a little Christmassy for you all -- an original holiday card sent by the editors of Creative Computing, among my favorite mags of all time, to freelancers and contributors. I won this on eBay from Bill Boyle, a cartoonist who had his work published in the title throughout its glory years in the late '70s and early '80s.

Judging by the names on here, I'd say this was sent out either in 1982 or '83. You can see the signatures of:

- David H. Ahl, publisher/EIC
- Betsy Staples, editor, married Ahl in 1988
- Peter Fee, managing editor
- John Anderson, associate editor. He wrote the Apple II column in CC and later moved on to MacUser before losing his life in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake
- Steven Arrants Jr., associate editor
- Andrew Brill, associate editor
- Laura Gibbons, editorial assistant
- Sherrie Von Tyle, copy editor

I'm at the point in my magazine collection hobby where there's very little left that I want to expend the effort to purchase. I have nearly everything published in the video-game field since 1988 (and quite a bit from before then), and I'm even almost done with my Creative Computing collection, with 93 out of 106 issues on my shelf right now. So, it's increasingly stuff like this that grabs my attention. Collecting is an addiction that's hard to shake sometimes.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]