['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 comments from around the world of video game print media:

- Dengeki Games, a brand-new Japanese multiplatform mag from ASCII Media Works, is debuting September 25. It's being run by Seiichi Kuranishi, former EIC of Dengeki PlayStation (a twice-monthly mag that is beaten only by Famitsu circulation-wise in Japan), and you could see this as the Dengeki stable's attempt to directly compete with Famitsu on the multiplatform-mag front. (Both mags are technically owned by the same umbrella firm, so it's not exactly competing, but close enough.)

The background behind Dengeki Games is a little labyrinthine, so pay attention. Before Games, Kuranishi was involved with Dengeki DS & Wii, a line of one-offs published by Media Works that offered mature-oriented Nintendo console coverage. (There's also another mag called Dengeki Nintendo DS, a monthly title geared toward kids.) Dengeki DS & Wii wrapped up this past July, and since then Kuranishi and crew have apparently been gearing up to relaunch it as this new multiplatform title.

This isn't the first magazine to be called Dengeki Games, though. Media Works published a monthly mag, also multiplatform, under that name from February '03 until March '04. Originally the mag was called Dengeki-Oh, launched in 1993 as a PC game mag, but it gradually shifted focus to industry and developer coverage (Yoshiki Okamoto had a column in it for a while) as the non-adult Japan PC game biz petered out in the early 2000's. The first Dengeki Games was never a big success, and since then Media Works had no real multiplatform mag.

It's a trend which we saw in England in the late '80s and America just this decade -- multiplatform, general-coverage mags largely giving way to titles devoted exclusively to one system or another. Weekly Famitsu is the only real multiplatform mag left in Japan, and Dengeki launching a mag to compete with it is a surprise considering Media Works' reputation as a "hardcore gamer" publishing house. Will it succeed?

- Meghan Watt, author of Official Xbox Magazine's Dead Space review -- the lady who EA executive producer Glen Schofield said "maybe shouldn't be doing this kind of game" in last month's Game Informer -- has written a rebuttal:

"Schofield’s comment on freelancers is, frankly, terribly ignorant, and GI did nothing to defend the profession that keeps most gaming magazines and sites well-stocked [...] OXM, Eurogamer, Wired, and EGM (four highly regarded publications) didn’t give Dead Space lower than an 8 just to watch Schofield sob in a corner. We believed that the game didn’t earn anything more. It was not worthy of Schofield’s coveted 9. Other prestigious publicatons -- 1up, G4, IGN -- didn’t think the game deserved a 9 either."

Schofield, while not mentioning OXM or the author by name, was annoyed because the mag gave Dead Space a 6.5 -- the lowest among the scores Metacritic used to calculate its 89 metascore, which he called a "big ass difference" from a 90. Since Schofield works for EA, I'll put it in Madden terms: This strikes me as the equivalent of Terrell Owens fuming to the media that Donovan McNabb didn't pass the football to him on the last play and he therefore didn't reach 20 receptions for the game. It is frustration over what, in the end, doesn't mean that much.

I almost never comment about review scores in this column because a magazine is driven by interesting content, not by numbers. Therefore I personally dread Metacritic because it encourages the notion that print magazines are good for coughing up scores and nothing else. That's the way game-pub marketing departments see the world, but it's the job of EICs to make sure that doesn't happen -- and it's that job that I want to celebrate, because marketing people already have enough power in this industry.

- Another thing I almost never do here is actively advertise for magazines, but I'll make an exception for Retro Gamer since there's nothing else like it in the world. With the British pound on the cheap end of things these days, Imagine has a deal going that cuts US subscription rates on the mag by over a third -- go here and type in YOUTUBE in caps to access it. Retro Gamer was my most expensive subscription, and now it's not!

[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.]