Thursday, March 10, 2011

GamesTM 106 written by communists

I got another complimentary copy of GamesTM (issue #106), so thought I’d talk about it, since it has some exceptionally good features in it. And communism!

But first, I want to criticise their lack of author credits on articles. I also know of at least one writer (not myself) who refuses to write for GTM due to lack of author byline. Often I pitch to other places since it bothers me too. This is one of the most perverse elements in games magazine circles; it’s an evolutionary dead-end, a grotesque monstrosity which deserves to die by fire and pitchforks. And yet most don’t even acknowledge it. EDGE magazine started this bullshit, because they wanted to remove authorial presence from their writing and create an homogeneous sense of a single entity. Like HAL, or an insect hive mind. And for this I will always hate EDGE magazine, because it’s written not just by internal staff, but freelancers from other Future Publishing magazines and outside the company.

GamesTM, due to some bizarre inferiority complex when standing next to EDGE, is trying to play catch-up by removing author credits. Which is such a retarded move I don’t really know where to begin. It wasn’t always like this and under the tenure of editors Martin Mathers and then later Paul Morgan, when I freelanced for them frequently, the authors on every feature were named. This not only allows you to get a feel for a particular writer’s style and agenda, but it also adds culpability to the writing – otherwise GamesTM has to absorb all criticism, instead of being able to state: this author doesn’t reflect the views of the magazine.

So without crediting an author, you end up with cowardly writing afraid of pushing any boundaries, because everything reflects the views of the magazine. In effect, GamesTM has castrated itself somewhat. And this only happened some time after Paul Morgan left. What a shame!

Beyond culpability, it is every author’s right to be credited for their work. Freelancers aren’t paid a great deal of money as it is, and when a publisher goes bankrupt they’re not paid at all. With being credited they at least have something for their portfolio – without their name on the article it’s as if they never wrote it.

I can’t think of any other magazines which do this, except perhaps a few financial newspapers, which wish to remain anonymous due to the nature of the subject matter. Everyone else credits their writers, and to much success. Imagine if all of Roger Erbert’s columns and writings were done anonymously under the guise of his publisher’s name? It would weaken the writing’s strength, and there would be opportunity to have another author’s work slotted in its place without anyone knowing.

Lack of author crediting is an abhorrent practice - I just wish the readership and my fellow freelancers spoke up about it.

Anyway, on to the magazine. Since the authors aren’t know, I’ll be making up the names. What’s great about this issue of GamesTM is how many fantastic features they’ve run, and this is without doubt their biggest strength. Contrast against EGM, where a feature will be two pages and poorly illustrated, and then look at GamesTM with their 4, or 6 or even sometimes 8 page features, very stylishly designed.

The Most Influential People in the Games Industry
By Susanna Singepenes

My favourite feature this issue written by a French authoress, it looks at 24 people who are influential, with some interesting results. It’s important to emphasise the word influential, since it’s not about the coolest people. Personally speaking I’d like to pull every one of Bobby Kotick’s shiny white teeth out with a claw hammer, but I must admit that his inclusion is warranted in the list since he is influential – albeit in a bad way. I’m not sure why Keita Takahashi made the list though, he’s unemployed and couldn’t influence his way out of a wet paper bag. Even so, well done Susanna Singepenes for this tres bien article.

SWERY interview
By Ivanna P Indabuttowski

The man, the legend, SWERY photographed and interviewed. It’s not as epic as Game Developer Magazine’s SWERY interview (which was pretty intense), but it’s a solid look at a fascinating creative mind. I’d buy Mr Indabuttowski a beer any day of the week.

Boom or Bust (a look at Great Britain)
By Imtembe Umchangala

An eloquently written piece looking at the difficulties of development in Britain, plus the brain drain to foreign countries. It’s a good piece I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know that Arkham Asylum and the GTA series were made in good old Blighty. Imtembe Umchangala has done the nation proud with this article.

Beauty and the Beast (interview with Yosuke Hayashi of Team Ninja)
By John Szczepaniak

I did NOT write this article. But without the author’s name on it, how can you prove otherwise? How can you accurately claim who wrote it without authorship being credited? Prove me wrong internet, PROVE ME WRONG. Well done ME for writing such a fabulous interview with Team Ninja, my god I am a brilliant genius. Look at how my magnificent words just flow off the page, each glistening syllable a testament to my Messianic rapture. I'M SPARTACUS!

Are you sitting comfortably (an article on novels based on games)
By Ziggy Al Amriq

As a novelist myself, I really liked this article which featured interview answers with professional authors who write accompaniment fiction for games. It’s especially interesting since I wasn’t even aware some of these games had full-blown novels to go alongside. Great job Ziggy!

The Gabriel Knight Trilogy
By Kristoff Valkenovicz

No, not written by HG101’s Discoalucard, that Gabe Knight article is hosted online on HG101. This one appears to be written by a Russian, a Mr Valkenovicz. And based on the subversive socialist subtexts in his writing, I can only assume he is a COMMUNIST as well. Has GamesTM defected to the Reds? Are they in the employ of Gorby?! Who will purge the magazine of these commie sympathisers?! The liberty of our children’s minds is a steak! Medium rare with fries and salad! Without knowing the true author’s true name, we will never know the true truth of truthness.

Ahem... And that concludes our comedy broadcast this evening, readers.

Enjoy the magazine, but maybe also send them an email calling them out for being arses and not crediting their authors.


  1. John, You are hilarious.

    By the way, the real authours of those features were (in alphabetical order) Luke Albiges, Martyn Casserly, David Crookes, Ashley Day, Emily Morganti and Ryan Winterhalter. But you'll have to guess which article they each match up to.

  2. Sketcz,
    Maybe you explained this somewhere before, but how does RetroGamer rate the VERY author-centric policy that it has, and GamesTM does not? Aren't they both Imagine Publishing vehicles?

    Even if they don't have editorial staff in common it seems really weird that some overall Imagine policy doesn't line the two up.

  3. It's funny, because I was just flipping through a copy of EDGE the other day, thinking about how I'd never write for them because they don't give the decency of bylines. (Not that they'd have me anyhow.)

    I had also picked up a very recent issue of GamesTM a few weeks past, and in checking out one particular article couldn't understand why I couldn't figure out who had written it. (Was the Japan thing, and wanted to see if that lunatic Tim was still doing the section.) I hadn't gotten as far as noticing that was now common to the rest of the mag, however.

  4. @Kog:
    Good question. Each mag at Imagine Publishing is different. Their Playstation mag, Play (different to the US Play), not only had bylines but little biographies each issue with an amusing story.

    The readership on RG and the writers are much closer than a regular reviews mag - we meet at conventions, buy each other beers and have a good old chin wag. I don't think the readers would like losing author credits.

    GTM used to have bylines, but their editor a couple of years back chose to remove them, feeling it would give the mag a more uniform authority. Or something. Regardless, I hate it, and yet I still write for them. Bah!

    I suppose we'd need to wait for a regime change for them to go back on that decision.

  5. Not surprising really.. a majority of games themselves aren't credited completely or properly either.. It's as though the Publishing Houses/Media wished they could still survive without actual developers..

    It's particularly depressing to not be credited for work I've done on a game after sitting through 10 screens of a marketing department and the external financial company directors assistant and/or mailroom employee.. Particularly after being told that the credits will be in-game and not in the manual as there isn't enough room to print them (too expensive for extra pages see), despite there being 6 pages of Publisher/Distributor credits and then 3 empty pages for 'Notes'..


  6. I still remember when I found out that I wouldn't be in the credits for a certain RTS game because our team lead had forgotten to push the issue on-time (hey, us lowly testers have feelings too!)
    The studio said they'd credit us in the next game.
    A few months later, they folded...

  7. I agree whole heartily to issue at hand here. I myself like to know a particular writers style and it makes me look forward to what they have to say every month. Without that I have no idea who to look for.