GFW Radio has disbanded. 1up has changed. And as a result of all of this restructuring, Robert Ashley has started a podcast/radio show. I listened to A Life Well Wasted and I was blown away. It was the "This American Life" of video game podcasts. I never knew how much influence Robert Ashley had on the "Merchants of Cool," a special episode of GFW where the brodeo leaves the confines of their offices to do a little social probing. But from listening to the first radio show, I can't help but think that Ashley was the master mind behind it all.
I highly recommend giving the show a listen. Episode One: The Death of EGM.
The show inspired me to write this piece of my own experiences with EGM and the things that I associate with it.
An old collage of EMG comics I made. Click to enlarge.
A Progress Worth Saving
I've always felt like I existed on the outside of their generational circle. As I listened to my playlist of podcasts every week, I couldn't help but think that all the personalities of 1up were grownups and I was just some kid. After all, the staff of 1up got paid to write and talk about video games. That was the dream so many gamers like myself shared. And all of this is not to mention that these voices that I've come to recognize and even imitate all belonged to people I've never met; people who were all many years my senior. Some as much as twenty.
I could hear it in the way they talked about the things I was too young to know or understand. Remember when X band was still touring X place while their album X was just Xing? No, I don't. And I don't know the movies you refer to either. Even though I grew up playing the NES, a console very close to the beginning of all things video games, I don't recognize many of the games the gamin remembers so fondly and so vividly.
But when I listened to the former Electronic Gaming Monthly writers and editors Robert Ashely interviewed in A Life Well Wasted talk about how much the EMG magazine impacted their lives, I finally felt that connection people make when they've lived through the same experiences on opposite ends of the earth. And it was at this moment that I realized how much I had lost with the closing of EMG.
Back in a time when my dad brought in the mail everyday because nobody mailed letters to kids except dentists and disciplinarians, I remember when he used to hand my brother and me a Nintendo Power or an EGM. Of course, this happened every month or so. But for a kid, a month is just long enough to never expect it and to always be surprised when it comes.
My brother and I would drop what we were doing, run through the house, and jump onto our parent's bed stomach down. Marcus was in charge of turning the pages. It was his magazine. He was the eldest. And I looked at the pictures and read over his shoulder. My brother taught me a lot about how to make a magazine last. For in a world before the internet, savoring information was an important skill to learn, especially the kind of information you can physically hold on to. Marcus taught me to first look at the cover, then quickly flip through to give yourself a sneak peak at the content inside, and then slowly read everything in the magazine starting on the last page and working back to the front.
The voices from the 1up network had often expressed an inherent, fundamental difference between print and online writing. Though I can't capture their sentiments exactly, I know what they mean. When your work is in print, it's somehow more real. You can hold it. Destroy it. It can go wherever you go. And you know that there are a limited number of copies of your work on the face of the planet. Each one is unique in some way. I know this first hand. Last August I printed out everything I had written about video games into two large books. Just holding them in one hand and feeling that the pages were thicker than a text book made all my efforts feel more substantial.
I know as I write this that I'm showing some of my age. Not too long ago, in a time where everyone didn't carry a piece of the internet in their pocket on some kind of 3G device, the only way to take a piece of video game writing on the road with you was to throw a mag into the car. I don't know how many times I've look at that one magazine that never found its way out of the back seat of my dad's car. For some reason, I was content reading it over and over, talking about the future of old upcoming games that I had already played.
I'm the kind of person who "in person" and "in print" still means something. I still buy CDs and hold onto all my games and consoles and even the cracked jewel cases. I'm the kind of person who likes to hold onto things, and not just save them.
I must be part of a generation that the future will look back upon and describe as being the bridge between two great eras: analog and digital. Somewhere caught in the middle, I speak and dabble in all kinds of languages; English, Japanese, Latin, Sign Language, Body Language, Music, Art, HTML, programming, etc. I use a shrug, hand shake, or a friendly wave about as much as I download, convert, export, and save as. Over the past year I've blogged like a fiend, yet I rarely write anything online without first drawing up notes on paper.
Being in the middle means that I have mixed feelings about DRM. But I laughed like everybody else when I heard about self destructing compact and digital video disks. For in the world behind my computer screen and tucked away in my hard drive, a world that's connected but ultimately separate from the real world, everything is free; space is unlimited; copies are identical; and above all else content is immortal.
Click to enlarge. The mags of my youth.
So if you wanted a good metaphorical picture of me, for whatever reason, I'm a high rez image of an old gaming magazine with its cover ripped off and missing. Or perhaps I'm the save file of a great childhood experience in a now classic video game that has been self erased because the internal battery has worn out. I'm that 3rd party memory card that allows you to save everything, but will eventually and suddenly and tragically stop working.
That's me; the kid who grew up on the dreams of writing and making video games. Dreams that float between two great ages and are only bound to a single indefatigable concept; all things decay. Dreams, even digital ones, are attached to this real world we live in.
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid)