Saturday, January 10, 2009

End of a dream

It's been almost a week, and, yes, Electronic Gaming Monthly is still dead.

This won't be showing up in my mailbox anymore. I still can't believe it

On the surface of it, one of (if not the) longest-running magazines in a nascent industry has succumbed to a combination of the terrible economy and "the death of print media." It's a problem that's only exasperated by the fact that, by and large, the tech industries - including video games - have news that happens so fast, printed media is falling behind simply because the tech-happy userbase is getting information online.

That's just the surface, and what anybody outside the industry would see. To the diehard fans of the medium and enthusiasts who follow news online, possibly subscribed to EGM, and are crazy and invested enough to know and care about the people writing about the industry, though, this is a huge blow.

(Okay, that's me. But I'm not the only one)

EGM attracted a huge following for very good reason: It was regularly the best-written piece of media, online or off, about video games. Period, the end. Between EGM proper and its (surviving) online outlet,, I had all the steady video game news, views, and discussion I could really handle.

Beyond even that, the death of EGM represents, to me, the death of a dream. That magazine wasn't the first I ever read or read regularly; that honor belongs to the three different car magazines (Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Automobile) my dad used to get. And EGM didn't get me into writing - I'm sure my parents can confirm I wrote, a lot, before I'd even picked up a single copy of the magazine. But it was subscribing to EGM that coincided with becoming "hardcore" about gaming, and - a few years later - realizing that journalism might be what I wanted to do.

My subscription began in 1999 (after picking up a few copies here and there in the summer of 1998), right at the beginning of the year. That was a great time for the magazine - issues that winter swelled to over 300 pages (astonishing for a magazine!), and former editor John Davison has called that a great time for the mag.

And as it looked more and more like writing would become a passion and possibly a career, EGM became a quietly-whispered target. I don't want to hole myself in for fear of ignoring any future possibilities, but it sounded like so much fun - writing about something I love? What a wonderful combination.

That dream is now dead. Oh, sure, there's still gaming journalism, but as it was before this past Tuesday was a very special place. I've met many of the writers and editors (including both those who were laid off and who stayed on) and, after reading their work and listening to their podcasts for years, you got the sense of passion, that there was no bullshit, and that they loved doing what they did.

So it's not just the shuttering of a magazine, leaving the January 2009 issue that now heads my magazine stack as the final issue printed; it's the end of a dream. I know those writers, editors, and designers who lost their jobs will find work again; that's not in doubt. I know I might end up joining that industry at some point too. But the mighty magazine that played a part in inspiring me is now gone, and it still hurts.

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