Shifting sands: EGM and Threshold MUD

By now, you’ve all probably heard that EGM will no longer publish magazines, and the 1UP network has been sold to UGO.

You also may be aware of the Threshold MUD entry being removed from Wikipedia (thanks for the pointer, Muckbeast!).

Both events remind me that we’re still living in the dawn of the digital era, and the videogame era, and the only thing constant is change…and Blizzard topping software sales charts, I guess.

It makes me wonder what the future holds for our hobby, and for the people who enhance our enjoyment of games by talking about them, playing them, and offering us an insight into their gaming lives. UGO is a owned by Hearst, and I wonder if the 1UP employees who were allowed to make their passion their job will be able to retain and express that same level of passion, either at UGO if they were kept on, or in other endeavors if they were let go.I fear that as gaming publications are swallowed by corporate media behemoths, they’ll lose some of what the game community loves so much about them, at least in their printed formats.

I also wonder who will be the gatekeeper for the first 20+ years of videogame history. Clearly, Wikipedia doesn’t want to offer MUD history a digital home, and with corporations buying, selling, and closing game-related magazines and communities, who’s going to take a stand for history, instead of investing in these properties solely for profit? Maybe it’ll never be print media…the death of print is trumpeted loudly from rooftops, although I sometimes wonder if the death of print is more about corporate media conglomerates unable to figure out how to publish at a sufficiently profitable level, instead of people not wanting to read magazines any more.

Back to 1UP and EGM, and the people who participated in their podcasts over the last few years.There are literally thousands of video games that I’ll never get to play. The amount of free game-playing time any human possesses is dwarfed by the sheer magnititude of available game-playing hours. I wasn’t a subscriber to EGM (like Pete over at Dragonchasers, EGM began publishing when I was already in my 20′s, and already a PC gamer, rather than a console gamer), but I listened to the 1UP podcast faithfully. Even though they often talked about games I hadn’t played, or couldn’t play because I didn’t own a console, I shared their passion for gaming, and I could listen and enjoy their commentary for hours. They helped me realize that my hobby, which started in basements and playrooms when I was a kid, had grown into something none of us might have imagined 20 years ago. We’re part of the largest and fastest-growing phenomenon in the entertainment business, and I learned that I have more in common with gamers from around the world than I ever realized when I hid my Dungeons & Dragons hobby from my “cool” friends back in high school.

As our hobby matures and overtakes the revenue from movies, videos, music sales, and books, I’d expect that the coverage of those games, and the history of those games, would be given more serious attention through major media outlets. That’s not happening yet. I don’t expect a company to operate at a loss to preserve that history, or to encourage that community, but there has to be a method, a model, for taking the life and legacy of the videogame industry more seriously than focusing solely on profit.

Every end is a new beginning, I guess. I know I’m not the only one to consider the best way to preserve MUD history if Wikipedia feels that doesn’t meet their standards. If for-profit businesses are going to  focus only on the bottom line, that leaves opportunities available to people who might want to focus on everything else that gamers enjoy…the history of the industry, the personalities who design amazing games and worlds for us to enjoy, the cultural impact of videogames on a generation of people, worldwide.

I’ve got to decide on a Master’s thesis sometime in the next couple years. Maybe that B.A. in History won’t be wasted in a career in technology after all :) And who knows what the future holds? I have lots of ideas…let’s see if I can stop playing games long enough to try and put some of them into action :)

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for blogging about this. I am working on a detailed summary of what happened, and its pretty insane.

    I’ll come back and link it up when I do.

    It is a real shame to see history disappearing as it relates to our hobby. And it isn’t much better for modern MMORPGs either. They are so focused on the financial side (with good reason), the history and stories are not being preserved.

  2. I’m looking forward to seeing what you write up.

    I wonder if it’s because the genre and technology is so new that there’s little thought given to preserving it? I think, instead of wondering about it here in the comments, I’ll write up a new post.

  3. EGM is canceled… wtf. That was my one source for keeping up with consoles. I wonder if I get a rebate on my sub or something… not that the $20 or whatever is going to kill me. Sad though, I really liked EGM. I hope PCGamer continues, that’s the only other mag I subscribe to.

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