['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.]


I've received a couple of letters asking why I haven't done a "Mag Roundup" lately, a rundown of all the video game mags that have hit my mailbox in the past couple weeks. The reason's been threefold: One, I went skiing for a month and fell out of the habit; two, I keep on having trouble with my subscriptions as of late (my latest issue of Retro Gamer arrived only as a ripped plastic bag and I have yet to find success contacting any human being about a replacement); and three, ongoing news in the mag business keep on distracting me. Case in point:

- I just whined last week about how slow the game press has been to experiment with iPads and other tablets, and now along comes Atomix, a new project that's a co-production between a large Mexican game-media site and Area 5, the video guys at 1UP before the 2008 layoffs. Atomix was originally a print magazine in Mexico, launching in May 1999 and proceeding along until 2009, when it successfully made the switch to an online-only presence. Its main competition in Mexico was EGM en EspaƱol, which started in 2002 and closed up in late 2008, just before the Ziff Davis-owned US parent.

I admit to not knowing much about Atomix's past. I met the staff briefly around 2004, when I was attending a THQ press junket in Cabo San Lucas and us Californian game nerds got a chance to hang out with the Mexican press a bit. However, the iPad package is aleady looking pretty sweet -- fun-looking, interactive, and most importantly engaging. I may have to start covering this regularly, because while it's entirely digital, it's really a print magazine in spirit.

- The fourth seasonal issue of Future's World of Warcraft Official Magazine has shipped to subscribers, which means that everyone who subscribed to the title back when it was first announced at BlizzCon '09 is now being asked to re-up for the next year. I talked with the folks behing WOWOM's launch in August '09, and while neither EIC Dan Amrich nor editorial director Julian Rignall are with Future any longer, the mag's largely lived up to its promise. It looks pretty, has a lot of strategy, and (to my outsider's eyes) it seems to reflect the will of the fans pretty well.

What do people thing? I had a peek at the WOWOM forum and picked out one encouraging quote:

"I just wanted to say that I am a subscriber and I love the magazine. Okay, I sometimes dont get it on time and I usually fire a quick email over to the customer services asking when Im likely to get it but I receive a swift response everytime. I dont mind waiting for it, its worth it. The quality is excellent, the information and walk through's etc extremely helpful for someone like me who isnt an hardened raider."

...and one less encouraging one:

"the ONLY reason I have the magazine now is to get official Blizzard staff interviews. Otherwise... EVERYTHING has been available for ages."

That's about right, I figure. People looking for the latest news or whatnot are probably not WOWOM's target audience, after all. It's for the hardcore fan, and the subset thereof that likes to throw around money for premium stuff. I'm hoping enough of them are willing to renew, because it's a nice package they've been putting out.

- Finally, for history buffs, here's a link to a great deal of scanned copies of QuestBusters Journal, a fanzine devoted to adventure game/RPG strategy that was published by Shay Addams from 1984 to '96. There's a lot more to talk about with this publication -- it was a major influence on a lot of computer gamers in the pre-Doom era -- but I'll save that for another time.

[Kevin Gifford owns over 8000 video-game and computer magazines. Despite this, he is capable of sustaining a conversation with a woman for at least three minutes per go. He runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things, and in his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]