I always loved reading quality gaming mags and, ignoring the Greek atrocities I was exposed to during my tenderer years, I frankly can't complain. I have enjoyed such brilliant publications as PC Zone, Zero and C+VG for many years and even managed to overcome the current mag crisis and subsequent drop in quality with the help of Retro Gamer and a variety of online offerings ranging from Adventure Lantern to the now defunct Retroaction.
Happily, things are about to get better. Much better actually, as a team of game journalism veterans have joined former PC Zoner Paul Presley (who incidentally wrote the funniest Total Carnage review possible a mere 15 or so years ago) in creating the wildly ambitious Continue mag. It will be a (mostly) online magazine covering all kinds of gaming via the excellent medium of lengthy and well-written features. It will not sport any reviews -a brave and wise choice- and will be published four times a year. Apparently a limited print version will also be made available.
You can already download the excellent and impressively hefty preview/demo issue over at the Continue site and get a taste of things to come. Then again, you can find out more about the mag by reading the words of its esteemed editor: Mr. Paul Presley. Interview right after this logo:
So, a new, ambitious, online gaming magazine. Why?
Continue is basically the gaming magazine I've always wanted to both make and read. It's always frustrated me as a games journalist that by and large, and for all the fancy frills and bows we'd put on top of them, that pretty much every games magazine out there was little more than a glorified product catalogue. The magazines I'd actually pay for and read were those that celebrated the subject matter they covered, that told interesting stories about their chosen fields. Magazines like Wired, Rolling Stone, Hotdog and the long-departed Neon (UK film mags). I always felt there was room for a magazine to try this about the entirety of gaming culture, rather than just append the odd feature to a review/preview-heavy publication to fill some sort of perceived remit or to simply dress game previews up as 'features'.
And one with no reviews at all. That's a most definitely brave choice. Care to elaborate?
There will always be a place for reviews, but unfortunately for traditional print (and print-style) magazines, that place is increasingly on the web. Magazines can't hope to compete with the immediacy of a review site that puts its opinions out the same day the game is released. On top of that, 'professional' reviews are becoming ever more obsolete. A triple-A title will sell through the roof regardless of reviews simply down to hype and brand recognition. Equally, niche titles such as all those European street cleaning simulators and whatnot all find an audience too, regardless of the slating they might get from jaded journalists. With Continue being quarterly, we'd rather sit back and write interesting features about the games we're already playing. We're more relaxed about it all. I care less about what exciting new thing is coming half a year down the line and more about the games I've already bought and am playing right now. That's where Continue's focus is. The best kind of magazine, I've always felt, is the one that makes you feel like you're all part of the same club, rather than one that dictates to the reader what to do.
What aspects of gaming will Continue cover?
All gaming! By which I mean videogames, PC games, board games, pen and paper RPGs, card games (CCGs, traditional, whatever), ARGs, reality games, social games, etc. etc. For a long time we've been seeing the boundaries between gaming 'sub-cultures' breaking down. Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has seen an incredible renaissance in tabletop RPGs over the last couple of years, board game clubs are springing up everywhere. I know that I love gaming in all its forms, I'm not solely a videogamer, or a PC gamer and so on. I just love games, full stop. Gaming has always been relegated as a non-serious pastime by the wider world, hopefully we can start to show that gaming is as important a leisure activity to our generation as music, film, TV, theatre, books and so on are to previous generations.
You've been writing for PC Zone and a for quite a few of the truly great gaming mags. Could you kindly -and briefly- talk a bit about the rest of the team?
We're small. We're a start-up and looking to grow. Continue's core is essentially a three-man/woman team working virtually (i.e. from our homes), backed up by some of the best freelance writers and artists working today. We're all professionals mind you, all of us have extensive magazine publishing and game industry experience and we're not setting out with a 'fanzine' mentality. Basically, I like to think of myself as Jim Phelps at the start of every episode of Mission: Impossible, sitting in my swanky apartment, thumbing through my IMF folder, picking the right team for the right job.
What would you say distinguishes Continue from other gaming publications?
We're any good? <Joke>
We've mentioned earlier the whole 'no reviews' thing, but really it's just the whole approach. We're text-heavy, we're not scared of words, we're not filling every page with screenshots of the latest, greatest thing. We're more relaxed, a magazine you can dip in and out of. We're quarterly so we can take the time to really go deeply into our subjects rather than scrambling to meet impossibly tight deadlines every other week. We're digital, so you can read us on just about any mobile platform or desktop screen around (and we will be producing dedicated tablet/mobile versions post-launch of the first issue proper). We're globally-focused, so just as we're all used to playing games virtually across the world, so Continue brings you stories from all corners of the Earth.
Why did you decide to join the Continue writing team?
Paul asked me a few months ago, when the mag was being designed. We've both been around the UK games journalism scene for... uh... a fair while, and he thought it would be good to have a column taking an old-school look at current trends. The first one is in the preview issue, looking at how gaming's barriers of entry have changed over the years. Seemed like a good intro.
Do you believe that such a unique mag will manage to find its audience?
Hopefully, though right now the whole industry is in a pretty hefty state of flux that makes predicting anything more than a little tricky. The idea though is solid. As I've said many times, the main advantage of the web is that you can find more or less whatever you want about anything you care to look for. Magazines, in print or otherwise, have the edge when it comes to presenting the cool things you *didn't* know you want to read - like Chris Donlan's feature about his grandfather surviving WW2 with Monopoly - which can be so easily drowned out by the ever-increasing pace of the daily news churn.
What interests me about it specifically is that while Continue is for gamers, it casts a much wider net than simply computer games, consoles, and generic things like reviews. I've never played a P&P RPG for instance, and I don't play board games. Why would I actively search for news about either? I wouldn't. And I don't. Something like this can put the awesome stories from those worlds right in front of me though, and hopefully open whole new avenues of interest and intrigue I never knew I was missing out on. A truly great writer might even persuade me to finally stop making fun of bards, though I doubt I ever will. Bards are rubbish.
What can we expect from you on Continue?
At the moment, I'm just doing a column. As a freelance writer type though, I'm surprisingly open to writing more...
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