['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.]


Ah, August! The month that, once outside of school age, we all wish would just go away so fall can come along and make us glad to go outside again!

Even the print mag industry can't wait for August to end, as I've already received the September issues for all the publications I get regularly -- even the British ones which are usually a month or so late. In fact, I even scored most of them a couple weeks previous, which means there isn't much to this week's Mag Roundup at all. A couple interesting bits nonetheless, though, if you'll just be kind enough to click onward for me...

Edge September 2009


Cover: Rage

It's interesting to compare this cover with the August Game Informer. I can't decide which I like more. Edge avoids the "sci-fi Marine" motif that I seem to see on GI's front page all the time, but it uses another cliche in the progress -- the "really ugly thing staring directly at you" effect, fabled to attract newsstand customers but really succeeding only at creeping people out. (EGM made this same mistake with a 2002 cover for Resident Evil Zero, one that -- if I recall correctly -- achieved notoriety around the Ziff offices for being one of the worst newsstand performers in the mag's history.)

The feature inside covers largely the same ground as GI's, but goes a bit further with long sidebars featuring Todd Hollenshead explaining the ZeniMax sale and John Carmack detailing the id Tech 5 engine in the impenetrable-yet-fascinating way only Carmack can pull off.

On that note, it's a pretty tech- and design philosophy- heavy issue of Edge overall. Other features include the Heavy Rain guy talking about where he wants to bring in-game storytelling in the future, a bit on Microsoft's Kodu Game Lab (an XBLA release so under the radar, I didn't even notice OXM cover it very much), and an overview (with quotes from chief tech dudes at Epic, Crytek and more) of future trends in graphic technology.

Also interesting, but so British it hurts, is a preview of Syntax Era, a one-off BBC comedy drama that depicts Clive Sinclair and his arch-rival Chris Curry as they strive to make their respective 8-bit computers the most popular in the commonwealth. Any of that make sense to you? If so, good, and hopefully you'll help me 'find' it after its October debut -- not like I'll ever have a chance to watch it otherwise.

PC Zone September 2009


Cover: Dragon Age Origins

PC Zone occasionally has really remarkable, tastefully-designed covers, which people don't appreciate enough because on the newsstand, they're covered in garish polybags advertising the DVD and all the features inside.

This issue is mainly E3 recap stuff, but it's still filled with actual humor, another underappreciated facet of this rag. To wit, this important sidebar from the FUEL review:


GamePro September 2009


Cover: Splinter Cell: Conviction

Not just a preview feature; a preview issue with nothin' but previews, reviews and the usual departments. This was therefore not too interesting an issue for me me, except for Sid Shuman's editorial predicting GameStop's demise at the hands of vengeful game publishers.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine September 2009


Cover: ModNation Racers

If E3 was last month's issue, this one is the post-E3 cleanup job, if you will. ModNation Racers did not receive that much notice amid the E3 clamor, but this feature (which is very infographic driven and easy to read) makes the game look more than a little fascinating.

More interesting in my own eyes: Doug Perry (formerly of Daily Radar, formerly of IGN, formerly of GameTap) wrote a couple freelance pieces for this issue, one in particular -- which covers the PS2 titles that most influenced the games of today -- being pretty darn neat.

Les Autres

ptom-blurayguide.jpg   gd-0908.jpg

The Ultimate Blu-ray Collector's Guide is exactly that, I suppose -- a compilation of all of P:TOM's movie reviews, along with a feature about Pixar and a bunch of posters. With only 76 pages, it's not a great deal at $10.

Game Developer's August 2009 issue is highlighted (in my opinion) by the middleware survey, which is approachable and explains the role these packages play to developers in a very concise manner. Interesting if you've seen brands like Havok and Speedtree get thrown around on forums and want to know what role they actually play in a programmer's mind. The Conduit postmortem, also, is a neat look at the internals of High Voltage Software as it tries to transform itself from a prolific for-hire dev to a spearhead for original IP.

[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.]