['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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Something that's always bothered me a little is the English-centric nature of this column. I am pretty familiar with the state of print game media in the US, UK and Japan, but not much with anywhere else.

I want to fix that for two reasons: because I am a total nerd for game-mag trivia, and because most magazines in non-English-speaking countries are covering a comparatively small (or perhaps barely even legal) marketplace. In these times of contraction, when even the most successful game-media outlets are experimenting with ways to stay relevant to gamers, I think there are things to learn from these more obscure mags, eking out their little niche and thriving off it.

So! Do you live in a nation that isn't the USA, UK or Japan? Somewhere in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Africa, South America, wherever? Then why not send me some email ([email protected]) and tell me a little bit about your country's game mags? I'd be much obliged -- if I get enough feedback, I'd love to make these national profiles a regular part of this column.

I'd like to get the ball rolling a bit by discussing Micromanía, the leading PC-game mag in Spain -- a country where having a circulation of 30,769 makes you a leader. Founded by local outfit Hobby Press in 1985, the mag started as a video game-exclusive sister title to MicroHobby, a ZX Spectrum-oriented computer magazine that was the company's flagship title at the time. It's covered consoles on and off during its history, but nowadays is entirely PC-dedicated and comes with the standard sorta "one complete game and a bunch of demos" DVD-ROM you see with a lot of PC mags in the Euro-zone.

Micromanía's history is broadly divided into three eras, with the mag resetting its numbering and publishing a new "issue #1" to kick off each epoch. The first era (1985-1988) was entirely devoted to 8-bit computers, occasionally coming with a tape containing cheats and such for your games. The second (1988-1995) lasted 80 issues, featured a different page size from before and pretty quickly moved to cover MS-DOS as its main game platform, with console coverage moving to sister mag Hobby Consolas. The third, 1995 to present, kicked off the covermount CD age.

In 1998, Hobby Press was bought out by Axel Springer Verlag, a German publishing giant that, in true Rockstar Games fashion, renamed the outfit Axel Springer España and used it as a general-purpose springboard into the Spanish media market. That same outfit still publishes Micromanía and Hobby Consolas today, as well as a separate PC game mag titled Computer Hoy Juegos (Computer Today: Games). I haven't seen that mag, but I get the idea that it's the more "mature" publication while Micromanía's more the knob-humor one. (Micromanía has it pretty soundly beat in circulation, nonetheless.)

Micromanía's Spanish Wikipedia page claims that "from the third era onward, it has been harshly criticized for giving high scores to games compared with other media [...] In April 2007, PC Life magazine featured an editorial that branded another publication, clearly Micromanía from their description, as 'sellouts.'" I'd love to hear more about that sort of talk, given how often accusations flare up with the UK press.

One side note: Among Axel Springer's other titles in Spain is Revista Oficial Los Sims, a bimonthly launched last year in the country. I didn't realize it until now, but there are official magazines for The Sims in Spain, Germany and France, the latter of which was published by Future before they sold their French operation in 2007. An interesting niche, there; I guess the main allure would have to be the pack-in CD with stuff to throw into the game. For the sort of person who plays nothing but The Sims, after all, the idea of downloading things off the Internet must still seem kinda scary.

[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.]