Friday, June 29, 2007

Tips & Tricks Magazine Has Folded

Like many classic gamers, I've recently learned that Tips & Tricks Magazine is closing down. The final issue should be on the shelves right now. For those who don't know, T&T began as an spinoff of Videogames Magazine around a decade ago. What was originally meant as a side project became the main magazine once Videogames folded.

Videogame Magazine began as the great Video Games and Computer Entertainment, which was an offshoot of an Atari Computer magazine called Analog. It was a giant among the prozines, and the only really literate one, aimed at an older market - okay, teenagers who actually got decent grades. Most of the other mags were aimed at the 12-year-olds who sniffed glue all day in their dads' basement.

VG&CE even bragged the largest circulation of the prozines, around 1990 or '91. Their downfall was, oddly enough, the explosive arrival of Street Fighter 2, which seemed to miss the staff entirely. Meanwhile, EGM created the most comprehensive strategy guides ever seen and made a fortune.

In the end, VG&CE suffered falling circulation, until its publisher (cough, Larry Flint Publishing, gag) forced the turn into the annoying and stupid Videogames. So, a pretty tragic ending over all, even though Videogames did plug my zine twice, which led to a freelance job with GamePro and NewType Gaming, so I really shouldn't complain. And they did come out with Tips & Tricks, which was an excellent little mag. And now you know.....(long awkward pause)....the...REST....of the story.

I feel sorry that T&T has folded. I'm amazed that it's survived as long as it had. Wasn't it only supposed to last for one or two issues way back then? It's a testament to the brilliant writing and content of everyone involved.

For me, this was the last link to that videogame past, the era of VG&CE and Electronic Games and the fanzines. I always appreciated the fact that T&T pulled writers from the zine crowd, like Ara Shirinian and Pat Reynolds and, of course, Joe Santulli. I don't think we ever truly achieved our dream of the "professional game fanzine," but Tips & Tricks came the closest.

I also think Bill Kunkel is right on the money as far as Gamefaqs is concerned. It's dominant for one simple reason - it's the only player. Instead of a comprehensive game database, I frequently find something that's half-finished, poorly assembled, and cheaply produced. It's designed like a website from the late '90s, not this decade.

The idea of pdf strategy guides, or at least moving away from the endless scrolling text, is long overdue. Heck, do away with those antiquated faq's anyway. They don't help me nearly as often as they should, and very rarely for anything more than one console cycle in the past.

I do think the prozines, as they've existed for the past decade or so, are doomed to extinction, but that's because of their poor content. Then again, I don't know if a market for a real videogame magazine exists yet. You'd think consumers would be more grown up by now, especially now that games are finally accepted as part of our pop culture. You never have to deal with those insulting "I let my kid play this game" articles in magazines and newspapers anymore.

So why isn't the public being served? Why does it seem like the existing prozines are targeting the same kids who read MAD and Spider-Man comics? It's still far too juvenile, still far too corporate, and still far too obsessed with the hype machine. They're catering to children who obsess about their wish lists to Santa.

Fortunately, the internet provides us with far more options than ever before. I'd prefer to see this as our opportunity. The loss of print isn't always a bad thing. Perhaps this media - games - is better suited to an interactive format like the internet. Games journalism is more commonly pursued, and many of us are still working out the kinks, just as videogames are still fairly young. And the arrival of Virtual Console and Live Arcade (and their peers) will finally bring all of videogaming history together. We won't be forced to deal with what's new, new, NEW!!! We'll have choices, and that's going to have a profound impact on things. that I think about it, this really is the new golden age of videogames. It's never been better. Now we just need the media to really address it.

My endless thanks to Bill Kunkel and everyone at T&T for their many years of dedication and service. Here's hoping you manage to pay the bills without taking a crummy day job. You know, like me.


fatherkrishna said...

An excellent summing up of the state play! Top marks!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Hey, thanks for reading. I don't know if this blog gets any readers. Not that it matters much; it's pretty much for my own venting, and all the inevitable blooks.

So be sure to pass the word along if you like, and thanks again.

NebachadnezzaR said...

You have at least 2 readers :)

I started visiting your blog when a saw a link to it on the Saturn Junkyard and after that i've been a regular presence. I'm sorry I don't comment much but most of the time I don't really have anything to say.

Anyway, thanks to you I now know of many japanese import titles for the saturn that I never knew existed, so be sure you keep posting ;)

infinitecontinues said...

I too read regularly, but didn't have a means to post. I've read for a couple years when I found your site while googling for custom Advance Wars maps.