['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.]

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There are a couple of weblogs I read which devote a pretty hefty percentage of their content to obituaries. Blogs devoted to old films or cartoons or comic books are notorious for that sort of thing. It's not something the authors deliberately set out to do -- usually, it's a drive more along the lines of "If I don't talk about and commemorate this fairly important person in my hobby who died, then who will?"

Oftentimes I feel like I'm in the same position whenever a print mag falls by the wayside. I'm not saddened by it -- magazines close for all sorts of reasons even when the economy and industry is doing fantastically well -- but I do feel obligated to write a bit about any title that shuts down because I'm not sure anyone else will note its passing otherwise.

So it is with Gameroom, a very small mag devoted to arcade collecting that officially announced its closure last week.

Gameroom is a neat magazine, although it didn't cover video games at all until nine years after it was founded. When it was begun in 1988 by Dave and Donna Cooper, a pair of Indiana-based collectors, most of its pages were devoted to jukebox collecting -- something that there was a huge marketplace for at the time, as the old vinyl-based jukeboxes got phased out and the generation that grew up with them grew old and acquired the discretionary income needed to save them.

Issues from the '80s and '90s gave coverage chiefly to jukeboxes, pinball machines, antique slots, and other things you'd find by the cash register at the Woolworth's once upon a time.

You'd see articles detailing how to date this or that particular line of penny-arcade machines, readers waxing nostalgic about how they built a side income out of hustling people for pinball bets in the 1940s, and so forth. Like a good computer fanzine, much of it is esoteric and useless, but the best of it contains a certain passion and dedication that's still electrifying to read, years after it was first published.

Gameroom officially began covering arcade games in 1997, later producing one of the first price guides for the hobby. As the years wore on, though, I suppose Gameroom was in sort of an unwinnable situation. The old audience, which read Gameroom for its coverage of jukeboxes and ancient pinball, was thinning out, either due to age or a lack of available product left to cover.

Arcade video game collecting was already a big thing by 1997, but that audience was a generation younger than the old one -- and they were connecting with each other online very early on, starting with Usenet in the early '90s, mainly because nothing else was covering their hobby.

The result is that I'm not sure a lot of folks -- including many hardcore arcade collectors, a few of which I talked with the other day at a local expo about Gameroom's passing -- were aware the magazine was still around at all.

Little niche mags like this one always have trouble advertising themselves, but in an era where MAME cabinets have become fun, cheap DIY projects and retro-everything is bigger than ever in games, I wonder if more could've been done to spread the name around.

Regardless, Gameroom had a solid 23-year run, and that's nothing to sniff at. Most of that run is available in digital form for a price -- so is Loose Change, a similar magazine that covered slot machines exclusively -- so seek it out if you're interested.

[Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running 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 of publishers and game companies.]