Losing my “magazine article virginity”

I write all day at work (I’m a “radio creative” aka “I write radio ads”) but late last year, I felt the need to write about something else after hours.

The topic?
No, no…  videogames.   Sorry.

And the one place I really, really wanted to get published was Retro Gamer.
(More after the jump)

If you’re reading this blog, but don’t know about Retro Gamer, I would suggest a quick CLICK on the link I’ve just given you. You’ll thank me later.

Ok, back to my tale. I swapped a few emails with the editor, who then offered me a chance to do a “Why You Must Play” piece. This is a monthly doublepage feature in RG, featuring a game that:

  1. Originated in the arcades (coinop)
  2. Was not a big hit
  3. Was still quite fun to play
  4. Had 4 or more ports/conversions to home systems eg C64, NES, MD, Amiga.

Now, at point 1, we have over 3,000 games to choose from (according to MAME).  By points 2 & 3, we might be down to 500 games.  (That’s a very unscientific guess) But with point 4 (the “ports” requirement), we get down to a much smaller list.

Darran (RG’s editor) suggested a game to me, but it’s one I’d really just “heard of” rather than played to any great extent. This wouldn’t do. I wanted my article to be like others in RG, based on experience & passion. Playing Game X 20 years after release (& trying to “imagine” what it felt like back then) would result in an article that I didn’t feel up to the Retro Gamer standard.

So – I suggested Mr Heli.   Darran said yes, and I had 3 weeks to get it done.

A Why You Must Play article is tightly formatted. For a first timer like myself, this was a very good thing.
Besides the main text, there are four “breakout boxes”.

  • Timeline (7 games before/after this title that show an evolution)
  • Conversions (4-6 home ports of this arcade game)
  • Things to look for (enemies, powerups, bonuses)
  • Try this next (a recommended game that ‘follows on’ from this one)

The last 2 sections are not too difficult.

Conversions took a while, not just in playing each one over & over taking notes, but in the basics of installing the various emulators. (No – sadly I don’t have a room full of original consoles & computers)

But the section that really had me scratching my head was Timeline. For most games, this isn’t too hard.  But Mr Heli is pretty unique. I went through many, many MAME screenshots to try to find appropriate titles.  And I got there in the end.

As for the main text, I re-wrote the first half 3 times. It’s amazing how many different “angles” you can try before you find the one that fits. Finally, I was happy with it, and the article was emailed.

Then I waited.  And waited.

No, there weren’t any delays.  I just had to wait for the time when Retro Gamer 56 was published.
Then – in the first week of October, it was out!

Retro Gamer 56 - cover

Retro Gamer 56 - cover

And there, on page 68-9 was my article. Not that it was out in AUSTRALIA yet. (Unless you subscribe) Oh no. Due to magazines’ shipping via sea, this particular issue will only be arriving in Aussie newsagents NOW. In the middle of December.

So – if you’d like to know Why You Must Play Mr Heli…  look for the cover above in your (Aussie) newsagent this week.

Why You Must Play - Mr Heli

Why You Must Play - Mr Heli

And if you’ve already read my RG debut, I’d love to hear your comments below. 🙂


5 Responses to Losing my “magazine article virginity”

  1. MikeB says:

    I think its its great that contributions to print publishing can be made from all over the world – RG has had contributors based in Europe, South Africa and now Australia… looking forward to seeing more of your stuff in RG!

  2. gnome says:

    I loved it. No, really. And that was a very interesting making of blog-post too. Keep it up!

  3. Myf says:

    I so need to head down to the newsagents and grab a copy. Then I’ll tell you what I think

  4. […] October I made my Retro Gamer magazine debut with a tribute to Mr Heli. It was a lot of work, but great experience and […]

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