Your Sinclair, Your Symbian, and Print Publishing vs The Web

Finally, I have the set! Thanks to the delights of EBay, I’ve picked up one of the original “Your Sinclair, It’s Crap” T-Shirts to go alongside the homage we made up with “Your Symbian.” This might not seem imporatnt to many of you, but Your Sinclair was probably the magazine that had the most impact on my formative years. Covering the world of the ZX Spectrum, it was published monthly and compared to the competition, had a healthy air of irreverence, nonchalance, and the air that the writers really believed (or hated) what they were reviewing and writing about.

Your Sinclair It’s Crap, as is Your Symbian
And don’t bother trainspotting the details…

It’s a quality that I think would go down immesnly well with modern games magazine readers, but I don’t think that the advertisers would be as welcoming of the approach in the 21st century. Your Sinclair could be cruel when there was a need to be cruel, and while I’m sure it was held back slightly, it never let anything remain unsaid. In fact, this is a role that the web, through topic specific blogs and user review sites (such as Epinions) take up to a much greater extent than the printed magaiznes, which have the problems of both lead times – from deciding to give a green light to an issue, and then seeing it in the shops (and staying on the shelves for four weeks) means that covering instant news and reviews puts them in direct competition with the agile web.

And I think that’s why, in part, the targeting of these magazines has changed to be much earlier in the product cycle of computer and video games. Most magazines now focus on previews, upcoming titles, and stunning visuals of games you’ll see in a few months time, as opposed to thos ein the store now. It’s onlynaturla, and it’s one of the few ways that they can stay fresh up to six weeks after a print deadline. It also means that the manufacturers and games companies can still control the flow of information on new titles before they debut. The mutual pact between the two continues.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t lock out the websites of the wrold to early news. The press releases, screens and gameplay videos are avaialble thought the ‘Press Centres’ of the world, and many blogs deal with the long term release schedules. I’m not sure the web is the best place for this style of reporting to be honest. It’s one reason why The PSP Show has shyed away (mostly) from talking about the PR announcements of games due six months down the line, and only reviewing titles that will be on the shelves when the podcast is first aired.

What is important is to recognise that the reporting of the gaming industry has adapted to accomodate bloggers. That’s why they are still out there, making money. That’s what every inumbent industry needs to do. Constant re-invention is the name of the game. The next few years are going to see some re-invention, some deaths, and some screaming to goivernments to change teh laws so thye don’t have to change. Interesting times indeed.