Tuesday, December 07, 2004

AWESOME NEWS: Corporate Greed Wins Out!

In somewhat unsurprising news today, one of the "World's Largest Multiplatform Gaming Magazine"s laid off a significant portion of its editorial force today. To avoid mentioning names, despite my own personal seething rage about the issue, I will call this magazine GameSlice. Yes, THAT GameSlice.

As much as I disagreed with GameSlice's tendency to droop boobies on every possible page, I really liked the magazine. It had insightful articles on things like violence in games and why players don't finish games, and most of it was really well researched and written. As far as I know, GameSlice survived for a run of all of three issues before the Money Grubbing Dinosaur Demon Hellbeast that publishes it decided to yank it from publication. After a pretty well-received premiere issue, GameSlice died after two newsstand books.

Now, I don't know the politics behind the decision, but IDG (oops!) has never been one to go around, y'know, supporting their publications all willy-nilly. Except the German GameSlice, which has an entire staff just to work on their DVD (which is frickin' awesome, by the way). GameSlice, on the other hand, had one guy whose job it was to put together the CD that shipped with the issue. Oh, and that guy was also the Managing Editor of the damn magazine. And he wrote articles for it. And, I suspect, he also wrote for GameSlice's sister pub, GameCool, in his spare time. As far as I know, there were maybe four, maybe five editors on the permanent staff for GameSlice. And Mr. Goddamn Dragon Head Publisher wonders why it might not have been as good as it could have been!

The Editor of GameSlice, a good friend of mine, has been laid off for the crime of being willing to take a new magazine, make it his, and make it the best he can possibly make it with half the staff and a tenth of the corporate support he needed. One of the most energetic and excited men in the business now has to go find something to do, and his vision of his own magazine has been squashed because someone's shortsightedness won out.

Let me tell you. I have been laid off before. It's unfair and stressful, and it makes you wonder what you did wrong. I was laid off because the Internet boom went bust, and I was on the bottom end of the scale. In this case, Mr. Orum (oops!) lopped off the entire staff of the magazine. He didn't stop the magazine and offer the staff a chance to do something else at the company. He just told them to pack up. Along with several other people at the company.

As much as I liked the magazine and its sister pub, I can't help but wish it ill. Because it is led by management with their hands on their wallets who don't understand what it is to publish a magazine that needs to keep an audience to survive. Think maybe that shrinking audience has something to do with the quality of the mag taking backseat to selling the mag? Maybe editorial integrity means something to these readers you have such complete disdain for? Maybe you should get your thumbs out of your fucking asses and actually consider what you've been asking editors to do for the crap salary you're expecting them to live on in the most expensive city in North America.

Not everyone there is evil. I absolutely love some of the people at the VP level, and this vitriol isn't being spewed in their direction. This is for the people who took the magazine's website and turned it into a corporate shill for whoever happened to be advertising at the time. This is for the people who covered my magazine cover with an ad glued on so that I had to tear the cover to get it off. This is for the people who tried to build up GameSlice, not as "a new magazine for an older crowd who wants smarter articles," but as "the magazine that Best Buy can sell in their stores to the drones who go in there flinging money like it's monkey shit." These people didn't care whether GameSlice was good or not; they just wanted to put tits on the cover and watch it sell. Meanwhile, the people who really cared whether it was a good magazine or not are, as of now, "chilling over Xmas because no one will hire until the New Year."

So, someone profits from this layoff, and so it's not all bad. But when something like this happens, the layoffs come almost 90% from the editorial pool, because you can offer a 13-year old kid $5000 to write articles for a year, and he'll do it happily. The industry loses its best people left and right because it doesn't make it worthwhile for skilled people to remain in the business. The ones who are really good stay in it because they really love the business, but the publishers are making it harder and harder to love. So you get turnover and crappy, cheap writers who have no idea what they're worth taking over for seasoned editors who have been in the industry just long enough to understand what "journalism" really means.

Since I can't really wish success for the remaining awesome people AND failure for the turd-headed fishmouth that runs the place, I suppose I'll err on the side of wishing success.

For GameCool's competitors, please note: A ton of really great potential freelancers just hit the market. Go get them. They will make you proud.

For the remaining GameCool edit staff: I hate what has happened. Your magazine has only gotten better editorially in the past few months, but I sense a disturbance in the Force. I know there are days when you want to pick up the replica Darth Vader lightsaber and go at it. Who knows, things might get better there. But the Man just sliced off GameSlice. Do with that what you will.

Argh. Enough. RIP, GameSlice. We argued and fought, but in the end, I'll miss you.