['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'm in that sort of awkward stage of my magazine-collecting career, one that I suppose every really hardcore collector of anything reaches sooner or later. The great, massive, unexpected finds are a thing of the past; I'm just chipping away at stuff I'm already aware of; I'm on a constant quest for new frontiers but find myself butting heads with the law of diminishing returns.

It's a bit like the international oil industry, I suppose, except setting my magazine library aflame wouldn't give my friend's 1979 AMC Pacer enough power to reach so much as the nearest SteaKountry Buffet.

Still, even today, the hobby gives me these little rushes -- like the time earlier this week when I finished up my full collection of Tips & Tricks with the September 1997 issue, which took me something like two years to track down a copy of. There are so many tips in these magazines, I am lucky that I haven't fallen over yet.

I like to count completing T&T as among my greatest accomplishments in this little obsession of mine. Why? Because nobody keeps strategy guides for very long -- usually, once they're done with the game, the tipbook goes with it. That, or the owner of the guide (usually a child) sticks it under the bed, writes all over it, feeds it to the dog, or performs all kinds of other unspeakable acts to it. I know this because that's exactly what I did with all of my game mags as a preteen, which is why my collection contains almost nothing I myself purchased before the age of 14 or so.

Being a mag-maniac can be both a blessing and a curse at times. I'm willing to wager that many items in my collection -- the first couple issues of T&T, for example, or some of the more obscure titles like Computer Play or VooDoo -- are just as rare quantity-wise as some of the NES or Atari 2600 games that go for hundreds or thousands of dollars these days. But nowhere near as many people collect magazines the way I do, so prices remain dirt cheap. The problem with that? Low prices mean no motivation for people to try selling mags to a collector market instead of recycling them. It's a bit egotistical to say this, but I occasionally feel like a large part of the reason old mags have any sort of collectible value at all is because I used to be a lot more active on eBay.

But enough about my problems. We should be celebrating T&T instead, a mag that has concentrated on the same topic for 16 years now and has been rewarded with remarkable longevity, even though most net-savvy gamers ignore it. I'd like to thank the editor-in-chief, Chris Bieniek, for helping me fill in some gaps in this collection a while ago; Chris is a fine gentlemen who's been with the mag for every single issue, and he has nothing but respect from me for what must often be a pretty thankless job.

Here's to future successes! I should really get around to finishing Nintendo Power next -- I need the issues from 2004-5, along with a handful of others, and I've been lazy about that for far too long.

[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.]