I'm going to do something I pretty much never do, which is to go off-topic on the main page here. Though I don't feel too bad about it because you guys are welcome to do the same from time to time in the diary section if you wish. We stay away from inflammatory subjects like...well, you know, religion and politics and things not family-suitable...but if you want to share something you find interesting and relevant that's not precisely Blazer-related, by all means indulge yourself every once in a while.
Anyway, like most of my generation (and all the ones since) I grew up playing video games. And though I do believe that we have a more diverse bunch than most sites of this kind (which is one of my great joys, by the way) knowing the general demographic breakdown of the people usually interested in sports blogs I'm guessing that I'm not alone in that hobby among this community.
My particular stripe of video gaming is PC games. I don't have twitchy enough fingers to really excel at shooters but I've ducked behind shell-torn walls in Call of Duty, lost hours of sleep over Civilization IV, lost my voice yelling desperate instructions to fellow looters in Diablo II, explored every nook and cranny in Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Morrowind (and now part of Oblivion), and played many a game more obscure than those. Yes, the geekdom is oozing around the edges here. I'm secure enough to handle it though. To those of you asking the obvious question, "How do you reconcile this with your exotic dancing career?" I simply reply, "I'm a true Renaissance Man."
Here's why I bring this up. My guiding light in all these journeys has been a magazine aptly titled "Computer Games". (Don't confuse it with others, as they all sound similar.) Many folks have written that BlazersEdge is one of the best things going (sometimes in all of fan-based sports talk) because it's reasoned, thoughtful, intelligent, and yet accessible, welcoming and sometimes humorous and fun. This stands out in a world that often isn't any of those things. Well that's exactly what Computer Games is to the world of video game discussion. Plenty of sites (and magazines) indulge in "l33t" jargon so they can "pwn n00bs" and their reviews and discussions consist of more exclamation points than salient points. Computer Games is different. It's for gamers who love this stuff but aren't, well...jerks about it. You know, normal folks.
It would be nearly impossible to do justice to everything they pack into each month's issue, but here's a sample:
--Steve Bauman, the editor, is more or less everyman's gamer and always writes a thoughtful introduction that gets you thinking about the state of gaming. This month he wonders whether semi-old-time gamers like him will find any traditional "magnum opus" games in a future where everything is increasingly relative to, and often co-created by, the individual who consumes it. Not only is he an interesting read, he almost always answers his e-mail.
--They almost always have a page-long essay submitted by readers on whatever gaming topic seems interesting. (I, myself, was published once long ago.)
--They give you a heads-up on what's coming out in the near future.
--They give you a rundown on all of the news that affects the industry technology-wise, product-wise, legally, or any other way.
--They usually do one or two large features on gaming topics ranging from piracy to military/government/education/religious attempts to enter (and perhaps co-opt) the gaming milieu to the latest in processor and video card standards.
--They do a multi-page layout of a major game in development.
--They review almost every game that comes out. For this alone the subscription price is worth it because you know there are no universal standards as far as quality and production value of games and that's problematic since once you've opened the box you can't return them. I never buy a game until I've read the review in this magazine first. One should also note that unlike many sites they actually take time playing the game for 2-3 weeks before they'll talk about it. And their writing is not only informative, but usually funny. Reviewer Kelly Wand took a stab at the recently-released "The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II: The Rise of the Witch King" this month. They already lampooned it for the length of the name, but Wand further noted that despite the title the game had little to do with the actual rise of the Witch King, offering "Maybe the name just sounded good, the way The Return of the King had a better ring to Tolkien's ear than, `Gollum's Poor Motor Skills Save the Day.'" Now I don't care who you are, that's funny stuff. And don't even get me started on their screenshot captions.
--They also have special sections running down MMO's (including a delightful little glossary each month of what some of those obscure terms people are using in chat actually mean), small, independent games, and mods.
--They have a fantastic hardware section which not only reviews products but contains helpful articles for the lay-level consumer or PC builder. In the last few months they've explained how to sort out confusing abbreviations on video cards, what the differences between RAM types are, what the best video cards for under $300 are, and how to actually build your own PC.
--On top of all that they also have regular columnists that range from the humorous to the dead-serious, college-dissertation level writings of two professors who actually research games and gaming theory for a living.
All of this comes in a completely professional, glossy-page magazine monthly.
The main reason I'm bringing this up here is because Mr. Bauman reminded readers last month that Computer Games is basically an independent venture, which means circulation means a great deal to them. He asked folks to get the word out if they liked the work. I do, so I am.
You can find Computer Games at most bookstores or you can order a year subscription for $19.95 right here. (I'll pre-warn you that for some reason their online site has, like, nothing to do with the magazine itself so I'd just ignore the rest of it. It's not representative of the product at all.)
The consumer end of the gaming industry needs this magazine the same way the Blazer community needs (if I may be so bold) a site like this. If you are at all into PC gaming you should give this magazine a look.
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