New England Gamer
(No More) Power to the People
As a child, every month or so my family would load into our mini-van and drive
the distance from Dundee, Quebec to my Grandmother's small, brick house in
Hemmingford. After greeting my Gran, we'd file inside and I, always prepared to
take advantage of her willingness to spoil me, would beg for a few dollars with
which I'd then hurry up the street to the corner store where I'd find something to
spend it on.
When I was younger, I would usually waste it on some throwaway toy: cheap
Transformers knock-offs or cap guns I'd grow tired of the second I'd wasted all the
caps. As I got a bit older, however, I started putting it toward slightly more worthy
purchases. While I was still buying Sonic the Hedgehog comics, I would use our
monthly visit to pick up each new issue. As I grew tired of those though, I began to
dabble in video game magazines.
There were several books I followed that I can remember: GamePro, Electronic
Gaming Monthly, GameFan and, most of all, Nintendo Power. If there was ever
something I would have considered a tome of necessity growing up, it was
Nintendo Power and even today, long after my status as an uber-fan of the house
that Mario built has declined, I still can't help but grin when I see Nintendo Power
on the shelves of a supermarket magazine rack.
Except for today. As I marched through the electronics section of Wal-Mart to pick
up some blanks CDs, I spied Nintendo Power amidst the usual collection of
magazines and it made me sad. It was announced recently that Nintendo Power,
after almost a quarter of a century would cease its publication.
It's not something I can call unexpected. The digital age has wreaked havoc on
traditional print magazines in no small part because the internet can do what a
magazine can, better and for less money. It's something especially true for gaming
magazines, whose primary purpose for years was only to inform their readers of
the new developments in the gaming industry. Why wait for a monthly publication
to learn about the latest announcements when a website can give you minute to
minute updates? For that matter, why wait for monthly feature articles, opinion
pieces, previews, and reviews when you can find new ones everyday online?
Nintendo Power is only the latest casualty in the tide of change. 2011 saw the
closure of GamePro, another magazine that had decades to its name. Prior to that
Electronic Gaming, Monthly and countless others saw closure (though EGM would
reopen its doors under new management), try as they might to fight against change.
I love the internet; I'd be a hypocrite not to. Were it not for the internet, I wouldn't
have the freelance career I've established over the past few years. Every contact
I've made, every editor I've pitched to, this column itself, are a direct result of
internet publications gaining prominence and print publications declining.
Even so, it's still saddens me to see the fixtures I grew up with die and disappear. I
think back on the feelings that accompanied that time. I think back on the wonder I
felt opening the pages of a new magazine. The tremendous joy of seeing a game
that I wanted on the cover and knowing that there might something inside that I
hadn't seen before. As great as it can be to watch a new trailer or read a press
release it will never begin to match the memories of slowly learning about a game
over the course of years. One of my favorite games has always been The Legend of
Zelda: Ocarina of Time, not just because of how wonderful it was, but because of
the run up to it.
I consumed every bit of information I could find. I read countless magazines,
cutting out articles and screenshots. I worked so hard to learn everything about it
so that when it finally came out it wasn't just getting a new game, it was catharsis.
It's an experience that I fear to be in the past. Were Ocarina of Time announced
today, fans would be privy to everything. We'd be shown from end to finish what
it was, how it was made and what it would be. This isn't a bad thing by any means,
but I wonder if sometimes we know too much.
Growing up I viewed the gaming industry as this monolith of imagination. I didn't
just love games, I was awed by them and their creation. Now we live in an age
where knowing is the standard and half of wonder is knowing nothing at all.
Read more by Stewart Shearer