“Reading video game magazines”, video games enlightened by the press of the great years – Les Inrocks

Coordinated among others by Mathieu Triclot and Alexis Blanchet, Reading Video Game Magazines celebrates the golden age of specialized magazines.

It’s been a tough time for the video game press between the sudden shutdown of Gamekult as we know it and the hardships of Canard PC or JV. However, there was a time when it flourished, in the 1980s and 1990s, as explored in a fascinating collective work published by Presses Universitaires de Liège, edited by Selim Ammouche, Alexis Blanchet, Bjorn-Olav Dozo and Mathieu Triclo.

Reading video game magazines is not only an opportunity for authors to revisit the old Tilt, Generation 4, Player One, or Console+ from their youth with delight and/or angst, but also to capture the many threads that can be drawn from them. methodically. There is the question of “tests” and ratings (out of six, out of ten, out of a hundred…) attributed to games, but also in relation to Japan, accounting (or not accounting) for working conditions in studios, the question of piracy or amateur games…

Assessing the place of the latter in two French magazines, Boris Krivitsky (already co-author of the very complementary Presse Start), Pierre-Yves Hurel, François-Xavier Sourincks and Sophie Bemelmans come, for example, to distinguish between a video game far away, the general public and not so accessible”, game by major publishers and often foreign game developers, and “local video game accessible to anyone who wants to learn”, which seems to disappear with the advent of the microcomputer era and from “hacking” to consoles and “creativity as an extraordinary practice”.

“Temporary Scrolling”

Studying “video game pirate strategies” from magazine ads, Colin Cidre goes so far as to reconstruct the course of some of them. For example, a man named Eli V. starts by selling games for TI-99/4A, acquires Spectrum, starts a club, buys an Apple IIc, starts “getting English-language programs and newspapers” … So many others during this time, Michel P. refuses to sell to limit the exchange.

A particularly instructive contribution by Mathieu Triclot is dedicated to the “figures of the future of video games” in the press, from futuristic prophecies to game previews: “This constant excitement is part of the phantasmagoria of goods: it’s all Christmas Eve days, abundance at hand while the object is absent.” And to explain how this “space of desire” comes from the “mixing of times” and the “temporal scrolling that accompanies it.”

Thus, over the course of fifteen texts, an unforeseen history of video games is built, multi-angled and multi-layered, where practices and discourses, technical aspects and relationships with other game forms are intertwined (from exhibition ground reviews to strategy). , journalistic principles and sacred “passion”. With recurring insistence that research can be continued. Because if the “golden age” of this press is over, then it certainly still has a lot to discover.

Read video game magazines – Cover(s) of the specialized French press (Presses Universitaires de Liège), 204 pp., 25 €

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