['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which covers video game magazines from the late '70s all the way up to right now.]

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A number of enthralling things are happening in the mag business this week. Even better, it's all good news.

First off, get your favorite download manager ready -- you've got a lot of reading ahead of you. To commemorate the final issue of Computer Gaming World before it changes names to Games For Windows: The Official Magazine, Ziff Davis has graciously put up full PDF versions of the first 100 issues of CGW, as well as cover scans of the 168 that followed afterward.

For fans of old game mags, this is like manna from heaven. CGW's first 100 issues (which ran from November 1981 to November 1992) are a treasure trove of history -- each one covers Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari games with pretty much the same depth as modern CGW, which is amazing when you realize the games they cover are usually no more than 48k in size. The earlier issues also have columns on game design theory from some of the most well-known figures in game history, including Chris Crawford, Richard Garriott, Jon Freeman, Danielle Bunten, and more. All this, of course, written in that classic, dense CGW style that made some call it the "New England Journal of Medicine of video games."

These aren't just any old cheapo scans, either. These PDFs are the result of a project by Stephane Racle over at the Computer Gaming World Museum, and the care that he's given to the files is utterly exemplary. Stephane collated scans (I contributed one issue myself, though I forgot what number), scanned a bunch himself, and OCRed all 7438 pages, producing an index that lets you look of anything you please within the first 100 issues (or, at least, you will be able to once he puts the index up on his site). Every PDF includes bookmarks to each article in the mag, and Stephane even included internal links in the table of contents and on every "Continued on page XX" blurb, which is a godsend in the early issues where articles jumped all over the place.

Tracking down copies of these early CGW issues (most of which were printed only in the four figures) is an enormous challenge for any collector, but Stephane's scanning project -- and Ziff and the CGW staff supporting him -- has provided an enormously helpful resource for anyone interested in the '80s computer scene. I'll be using these scans extensively in future columns here, definitely.

(By the way, that final issue of CGW arrived at my mailbox today. It's superb, but I'll go into more detail on that next week.)


CGW isn't the only Ziff mag undergoing renovations for the December issue. Electronic Gaming Monthly is undergoing a major redesign of their own, the first one since 2002, and it's also set to debut next month. You can see some of the mockup covers EGM's design team has going in the picture above, which was posted on 1UP as part of something related.

Although these mockups are almost certainly not final, it's interesting to note that while the mag's official title won't change, the initials "EGM" may form the most noticeable part of the logo from now on. I can think of two reasons for this: (a) most readers call the magazine "EGM" anyway, and (b) the name "Electronic Gaming Monthly" is incredibly fuddy-duddy. It doesn't tell you very much about the mag's content, it's too long, and it sounds very old-fashioned (like "Popular Mechanics") in an industry that's always about slicing away at the cutting edge. Besides, the term "elecronic games" passed out of common usage twenty years ago.

The only disadvantage to this is that the word "game" wouldn't be as prevalent in the main logo any longer. This is the sort of thing that puts sales and circulation departments into a bit of a funk, because they may fear that consumers will pick up the magazine at the rack, be unable to figure out what the mag is about, and put it back down without a second thought.

If the new EGM logo winds up being like these mockups, then, it'll be Ziff Davis betting that the buzz a radical new look for the cover will offset any confusion that may occur. Now I'm excited to see how the new mag looks from the inside.