Magazine of the week: A Profound Waste of Time #1

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As I never tire of telling people, the effort and work that goes into a magazine means that to make it worthwhile you need to have real passion for the subject and a conviction that you are doing something that nobody else is doing. And that’s just to give your project a chance of success.

A Profound Waste of Time is a new London magazine about (‘inspired by’) videogames that has given itself every chance of success, so powerful is this launch issue. Astonishingly, given thesize and reach of the videogame industry, it is the first indie games magazine I’ve come across for ages – the only other I can bring to mind is the occasional Kill Screen from the US.

With worldwide sales last year of $108.9 billion, it would seem there’s a vast untapped market for other media to exploit; yet gaming retains an air of general disapproval. This is mentioned by APWoT editor Caspian Whistler in his introduction to the issue. ‘I’d always been slightly uneasy about my love of videogames…’ he begins, and the title of his magazine alludes to the same guilt – is there another subject that could so knowingly spawn a magazine titled A Profound Waste of Time?

Yet there is plenty to consider in videogames, and the 186 pages here are packed with intelligent dissections of the games industry. The intense pressure of developing new games to budget is considered in the first feature, and we continue through detailed issues such as the pacing of games, the role of the voiceover artist in them, and career development.

All bring informed views from a group of contributors for whom the form has clearly been anything but a waste of time.

If these stories make the case for the gaming industry as a serious, mature enterprise, other features offer the user’s point of view. Reading personal, hands-on experiences of gaming is a fascinating new thing for me, a world away from my early Megadrive habit which was essentially an act of mindless distraction.

As a swimmer I particularly enjoyed Hannah Nicklin’s take on the game Abzu (above), where she and three other keen swimmers compare the game’s experience of swimming with the real thing. This is about as far from the geeky assumptions you might make about games reviews and writing.

The same can be said about the imagery throughout this first issue. Aside from a few useful occasions, the lazy games shorthand of screen grabs is replaced with strong illustration.

The cover art is based on the game Shovel Knight and drawn by Dan Mumford; other contributors include Midio Tafuri, Mr Kaplin and Kyle Smart. There also several nice surprises: an inserted risograph print by hato Press, an extra mini-booklet about games developers Yacht Club (above), and some fold-out sections. All add to the strong first impression of the issue – although the one area that could be sharpened up is the page design itself. Despite some nice font selections the layouts can be a little repetitive.

That aside, A Profound Waste of Time is a very well put-together magazine that delivers on Whistler’s ambiton for it to be a celebration of the medium he loves. Like many an indie mag, it examines the culture of its subject from multiple angles and given half a chance will reach out beyond its obvious readership and appeal to non-gamers intrigued by the form.

A delightful surprise, A Profound Waste of Time is our latest Magazine of the Week.

apwot.com

Twitter: @apwotmag

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