The leading trade weekly of the games industry (indeed, until recently the only trade weekly of the games industry). Notoriously nervous when it comes to upsetting games publishers (or, indeed, almost anyone), but still commissioned the parade of bile and gratuitous provocation below. Bless them.
BIGGER BETTER MOORE'S ALMANAC - November 1992
A crystal ball-gazing article.
GLOOM FOR IMPROVEMENT - April 1993
An article about the death of the Amiga.
TALKING TURKEY - October 1995
An article about bad games.
KILLING THE MESSENGER - December 1995
An article about bad reviews.
THE PRICE IS WRONG - October 1996
An article about game prices.
BRAND NEW SAME OLD - November 1996
An article about retrogaming.
THE EXPERT'S EXPERIENCE - November 1996
An article about buying a PC. The feature was a two-parter, in which a colleague (posing as a clueless novice) sought advice from a variety of stores, followed by me (posing as a clued-up tech whiz) turning up at the same stores half an hour later, which explains why the article appears to start half-way through.
MULTIFORMATS FEATURE - July 1997
Why are there so many different games machines?
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS - February 1997
An article about PR.
BAH HUMBUG - December 1997
A heartwarming Christmas piece about how stupid everyone is.
BUSINESS SENSE AND SENSIBILITY - March 1998
An interview with Jon Hare of Sensible Software. The first in a trilogy of interviews examining the increasing corporate influence on the games industry's creativity..
THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM - April 1998
World Cup feature.
PLAYSTATION MAGAZINES ROUNDUP - July 1998
First in a series of four looks at the state of the specialist games magazine business, which brought CTW their biggest barrage of hate mail in living memory.
MATT BIELBY INTERVIEW - July 1998
The launch editor of Arcade magazine (qv), though it hadn't been named as such by this point.
CLOSE TO THE EDGE - July 1998
Interview with Tony Mott, editor of Edge (qv).
DAVE GREEN INTERVIEW - August 1998
Why is there so little coverage of videogaming on TV?
BACKWARDS TO THE FUTURE - August 1998
A feature about backwards compatibility, written when conventional wisdom still held that the Playstation 2 wouldn't be compatible with ordinary Playstation games.
GREG INGHAM INTERVIEW - August 1998
Managing Director of Future Publishing, the dominant publisher of games magazines in the UK. The second interview in the trilogy started with Jon Hare.
GARY PENN INTERVIEW - August 1998
Creative Director at much-lauded developer DMA Design. The third interview in the corporate-vs-creative trilogy.
N64 MAGAZINES ROUNDUP - September 1998
The second in the series.
ECTS FEATURE - September 1998
An article published in the ECTS issue of CTW (ECTS being the main European annual trade show) about how crap the ECTS is.
WATCHING THE WATCHDOGS - October 1998
A feature about the BBFC and the problems with game censorship.
DIVERSITY CHALLENGE - October 1998
A piece about the rise in non-games software for games machines.
PC MAGAZINES ROUNDUP - October 1998
More hate mail.
PIRACY - THE UNWINNABLE WAR - November 1998
A major feature contesting the previously-uncontested view that piracy is killing the games business.
GAME BOY COLOUR FEATURE - November 1998
A look at the upcoming release of the colour version of the hugely successful handheld console.
MULTI-FORMAT MAGAZINES ROUNDUP - November 1998
Last in the series (or was it?), and mostly an excuse to take a close look at Arcade, whose first issue left the presses that month.
SCROOGE 99 - January 1999
A follow-up to "Bah Humbug" (qv).
COPYCAT KILLERS - January 1999
Feature on ELSPA and the IDSA's attempt to exterminate the cancer of... emulation
PRESS, DARLINGS? - February 1999
An examination of games coverage in the "real world" media.
UNORIGINAL SINS - March 1999
A look at why so many more games were running to so many more sequels than ever before. Practically every Playstation game of the previous Christmas had had a "3" in its title.
DEVELOPMENT IN PERIL - March 1999
A piece on the difficulties of maintaining independent software development companies in the face of spiralling game-development costs. The company which was the main focus of this piece was closed down by its publisher in August 1999.
STATS ENTERTAINMENT - April 1999
A look at whether the PC games market was really in the incredibly bad state that everyone said it was.
DREAMCAST MAGS ROUND-UP - September 1999
Fifth in the trilogy.
EURO 2000 PLAYOFFS FEATURE - November 1999
Computer games lie to you.
DEATH OF THE PC FEATURE - November 1999
Saying what everyone knows but is too scared to admit - the PC is dying as a games machine.
ALMANAC 2000 - December 1999
Another gaze into the old crystal ball.
BITS FEATURE - December 1999
Two hours alone in a room with the Bits girls. Well, someone had to do it.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR FEATURE - December 1999
Which word don't you understand?
FUTURE GAMER FEATURE - April 2000
An interview with Andy Smith about the demise of Future Publishing's weekly email games magazine.
FIRST-QUARTER STATS FEATURE - April 2000
Analysing the facts and figures of the software industry from January to March 2000.
MAGICAL MEDIA FEATURE - April 2000
An interview with the people behind Mr Dreamcast magazine. Scepticism about the kiddy mag's viability was proved correct when it closed after just two issues. Or was it because this feature revealed the sinister Mafia connection behind it? Who can say?
MAINSTREAM PRESS FEATURE - April 2000
A further look at the state of games coverage in real-world media, one year (and a bit) on.
'CHU CHU 'ROCKETS FEATURE - May 2000
An interview with Dick Francis about the incredible phenomenon this is Pokemon, and whether it really teaches our children that cockfighting and slavery are fun.
EURO 2000 FEATURE - June 2000
Which game is which Euro superstar?
PLAYSTATION MAGS ROUNDUP 2 - June 2000
DREAMCAST MAGS ROUNDUP 2 - July 2000
As is this one.
N64 MAGS ROUNDUP 2 - July 2000
And another one of it.
MULTI-FORMAT MAGS ROUNDUP 2 - August 2000
PC MAGS ROUNDUP 2 - September 2000
Aren't there a lot of games magazines?
A JOLLY ROGERING - August 2000
The real truth about piracy. And some rubbish from ELSPA.
STARING DOWN THE BARREL PT 1 - November 2000
No less than an examination of the future prospects of the entire videogaming industry, and a warning about just how bad they might be. Originally written in August this year in time for the ECTS, but held back by CTW for fear of mass suicides on the show floor.
STARING DOWN THE BARREL PT 2 - November 2000
The feature, incidentally, was first written as a 9,000-word, nine-page epic, but later broken down into no fewer than seven separate features in an attempt to soften the blow a little. (That's the blow to CTW's accounts department more than the blow to the games industry.)
STARING DOWN THE BARREL PT 3 - December 2000
Concluding the whole epically depressing tale, just in time for Christmas.
THE ALTERNATIVE GONG SHOW - January 2001
An end-of-year awards feature very slightly less hackneyed than the usual.
ALMANAC 2001 - January 2001
Yet another attempt at cynical, satirical future-gazing goes badly wrong as almost everything predicted actually comes true.
TRANSITION? WHAT TRANSITION? - February 2001
Exploding the myth that the games industry endured some kind of slump in 2000.
GIVING THE GAME(S) AWAY - March 2001
Examining the desperate measures adopted by the nation's retailers in order to persuade people to buy PS2s.
THROWING OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATHWATER - May 2001
Did the games industry give up on the Playstation 1 far too soon?
SHEER CHART ATTACK - June 2001
The games industry's charts have recently been robbed of all their useful sales statistics, at the behest of the country's biggest games retail chain. Isn't that, like, a really stupid idea?
FUTURE IMPERFECT - November 2001
An interview with Future Network CEO Greg Ingham about the company's recent disasters, and the way forward. Attracted this extremely snippy but vague-on-details letter of complaint to CTW Editor Kristan Reed from the interviewee afterwards, though when repeatedly pressed by me to specify which bits he was actually upset with, or which bits did not accurately represent the course of the interview, the shy and retiring CEO couldn't quite manage to name any. In fact, the interview published in the paper was a near-verbatim transcript of what happened, edited only for length and with a bare minimum of comment from me (except for one about pot plants in the intro). But hey, you can see that for yourself right here if you read the piece. (Just in case the threatened "sueing" ever materialises, I've kept the full 90-minute recording. If I ever have a spare 70MB of webspace, maybe I'll put it up...)
After the interview, the number of redundancies at the company continued to increase beyond the 500 casualties mentioned here, eventually reaching more than 1000, or roughly 50% of the firm's entire workforce. In 2002, having dispensed with half of Future's staff, Greg Ingham received a pay increase of approximately £300,000, more than doubling his 2001 salary.
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE - January 2000 - October 2001
A very short 200-word "topical" column for the magazine's "light-hearted" back page. It was actually supposed to be called "Devil's Advocaat", hence the strapline "Rarely popular, often difficult to swallow and certain to leave a bad taste in the mouth". Unfortunately, some muppet in the art department assumed it must have been a typo and changed the graphic to the more traditional spelling, so we were stuck with it.
Written anonymously, everyone thought Devil's Advocate was me anyway, but we could truthfully deny it on the basis that about three of the 61 columns were written by someone else, so if anyone said "You're Devil's Advocate, aren't you?", the answer "Devil's Advocate is in fact the work of more than one person" was a perfectly truthful response. A couple of the ones written by other people were in fact replacements for ones of mine that CTW refused to run because they were too nasty (forgetting that the whole point of the column was to be nasty).
Sometimes eerily prescient ("Itís surely obvious to anyone with warm blood that WAP telephones are NOT the gaming medium of the future", said the Advocate in February 2000, a time when otherwise-sane people all over the industry were steadfastly insisting that they were, or sounding an alarm the previous month at the drastic overvaluation of Future Publishing shares, shortly before they collapsed in price by a staggering 97%), often just plain rude, but always made up on the spot in the ten minutes between the CTW editor phoning up and going "Oi, where's the column?" and the column being delivered.
Because they're so short, for ease of reading the columns have been collected here in groups of ten. The scheduling of DA was variable (sometimes weekly, sometimes fortnightly, sometimes randomly dropped to make way for a "special"), so the dates given here are the dates each column was written, and hence might differ by up to a week from the actual publication date.