October 31, 2009 4:00 PM |
['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.]
Still haven't thought up a brilliant enough concept for your Halloween costume? Honey, it's not too late! Just find a box, tape, wire hangers, markers, a pair of pliers, paint, and a coffee can (does ground coffee still come in big aluminum cans?), and you too can dress up like a TRS-80 Model III computer for the big party tonight!
This spread comes to you courtesy the October 1983 issue of Family Computing, one of several consumer-oriented magazines in the early '80s covering 8-bit computers. It was written by Joey Latimer, who contributed a lot of stuff like this to Family Computing during its existence -- cute articles with kid appeal, quick little program demos, and so forth. "The TV screen or monitor can be decorated to look like a computer game, graphics, program listings, or anything imaginable," he writes. "Don't be afraid to invent your own fantasy game."
I'm surprised that I have not mentioned Family Computing in this column yet, especially since our family subscribed to it back in the day, from its 1983 inception all the way to 1988 when it changed subjects and became Home Office Computing. It was published by Scholastic, which launched it nearly simultaneously with a kid-targeted magazine titled Microkids (later K-Power). K-Power lasted until late 1984, after which it was incorporated into Family Computing in its own separate section -- but even before then, Family Computing was definitely written in a kid-friendly tone, differentiating it from the slightly more tech-oriented approach of rivals like COMPUTE!.
A full Family Computing archive has been scanned in by DLH and should still be available via torrent if you're curious. I would not call it an exemplary magazine -- like I said, its coverage was always pretty beginner-oriented and readers like me had a tendency to "graduate" from it quickly -- but it does have one unique selling point: it offered type-in programs and coverage for orphaned systems like the TI-99/4A and Coleco's ADAM long after all official support for them disappeared.
[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.]