['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.]


A few notes and topics to mull over as everyone sleeps off E3 and I prepare for a two-brewery-tour weekend (i.e. by exercising a lot):

- The announcement of Electronic Gaming Monthly's "resurrection" was overshadowed by the rest of E3, which was sad but unavoidable. No particulars have been announced by Steve Harris, who's intimated on his Twitter that he's been bouncing around doing Hollywood work in the past couple of years, but details are promised in the next week or so.

If Mr. Harris is that serious about it, and if he has the money to launch a successful video-game media presence and keep it running until it has a chance at becoming profitable, then I see no reason why he can't be a success. However, not many people can show such dedication against the economic realities facing media these days.

What's more, unless Harris has some secrets up his sleeve, none of the things that made EGM the most respectable name in modern game media -- ie. the editors and artists who worked for it -- are returning to the new presence. (My impression of Harris was that he was always more the behind-the-scenes business guy at Sendai, letting Ed Semrad and crew drive his mag library's editorial direction, so it's whoever he hires for his projects that'll make the real difference here.)

So, guarded optimism. Which is a lot more than I ever had for Wii60 Player.

- I did not attend E3, sadly, but I received a press release from GamePro talking about their awesome 20th-anniversary party a couple days back at the Figueroa, a hotel I think GP (or was it 1UP?) put me up in for one E3 many years ago. 200 people in that hotel musta been pretty crowded; I wish I was there. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Actually, I was the other side of the GamePro 'velvet rope' at another party and it looked pretty fun over there!]

GamePro is going to be publishing freebie giveaway buyer's guides starting this August for distribution at 7-Eleven. I'm not expecting any breathtaking work here (plus 7-Eleven doesn't exist within 200 miles or so of Houston, so I'm gonna have to beg the editors I know at GP for copies), but I'd expect nothing less of GP -- they've always been extremely adept at pushing their name around the world of retail, surprisingly so in fact.

- The redesign of PC Gamer UK is now two issues old. I have yet to see a redesigned issue, but I did receive this mail earlier from a reader:

"PC Gamer UK have just done one of their bi-yearly re-designs. It's not a bad redesign, but it's left me feeling less attached to it. And in these times of internet publications, that could be fatal. My simple question is: why do magazines do re-designs? A slightly more complicated question: do you have any data on what the general outcome of a magazine redesign is?"

There are all sorts of reasons why a mag would redesign:

- Circulation and/or ad rates are dropping (eg. GamePro)
- The mag wants to reach a new reader audience (eg. EGM dropping tips/tricks pages)
- The mag wants to try and overtake the market leader and/or stay in the lead (eg. Xbox Nation when it went monthly, or Game Informer's breathtaking 2001 redesign)
- The readership is changing to the point where the current design is no longer appropriate (eg. Nintendo Power during the GameCube generation)
- A new EIC or art director has arrived and wants to shake things up (eg. PC Gamer US right this minute)

It's hard to gauge the direct effect of redesigns on readership. It's a great deal like opening a new restaurant -- you can mess it up in hundreds of different ways, and even if you get everything right, it can still be a failure. I can't comment on the PC Gamer redesign, but there is always a case to be made for leaving well enough alone. Famitsu in Japan, for one, has not changed its design appreciably since the early 1990s, except for cosmetic stuff here and there.

At the very least, a redesign is a way to attract attention to your magazine -- which is important these days, because print mags need every attention-grabbing device they can get. (Of course, maybe it's already too late. I know newspapers redesign all the time, for one, but I doubt I'm ever going to use a daily print newspaper for anything besides ferret litter from now on...)

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]