12 July 2010

...Invert Look

As part of the recent budget, the new coalition government decided to pull its big old clumsy blue and yellow cojoined leg back as far as it jolly well could to give the torpid UK economy a thundering kick in the nuts. The Libercon Dermosives or whatever we're supposed to call them, probably thought it an easy win to scrap tax breaks for the UK games industry. So short-sighted and out of touch was the decision, that individually writing down their ideas on scraps of paper, neatly folding them in half and putting them in a tombola would seem a more rational way to have chosen their deficit-busting policies. This government doesn't understand gaming. I'm sure they believe games are made by a few lazy ne'er-do-wells in their spare time to be played by a handful of loners with a propensity to vindictively re-live every pixellated action from Double Dragon on to upstanding, unsuspecting voters. A perception not only twenty years out-of-date, but twenty years wrong. If only these private-sector-sucking politicians could see how much money they could personally accrue from this (talented, prestigious, vital) UK industry, they may just change their minds. Right, comrades?

Where would we start in making them see the light? We need thrift! An expedient bulletin to make them understand the industry's far reaching cultural influence, affluence and pertinence. I know! Let's post the launch issue of Invert Look through the letterbox of number 10. I wonder who'll get there first in the morning to pick it up, Clegg or Cameron? I assume they untie their 'third leg' to go to bed. Nick is probably already making the tea and removing all the Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes from the miniature cereal selection to mollify David and his sweet, sweet tooth whilst the letterbox swings on its hinges. "My, what's this?" They'll say. Invert Look.

It's a new quarterly gaming publication from The Church Of London, producers of the excellent award-winning film mag Little White Lies. If you're familiar with the crisp, erudite writing from their contributors, wrapped inside layers of beautifully designed editorial, then you'll be as cock-a-hoop as I am that gaming has gained their attention. The launch issue - received free as a loyal *cough* subscriber to LWL - is a rallying cry at what a games publication can be in this climate of digital news, social gossip and blog saturation. No latest reviews, no sycophantic scoops, no early-adopting slavering over the latest technology; think watching Newswipe instead of the actual news. Quite refreshing, really. And it's about time.

Back in the early '90s when I was battling to get Alex Kidd to the end of his Miracle World before getting called down for My Dinner (there was a world before memory cards, kids), I'd worship at the altar of Mean Machines, my first magazine love. Before 'crowdsourcing' was a word, they had a feature calling upon their loyal readers to write in whenever a console or game was referenced in popular culture. It was an exciting crossover. The idea of anyone mentioning Nintendo or Sega outside of darkened teenage bedrooms seemed as unlikely a scenario as us teenagers getting girls inside our darkened bedrooms. But then it happened. Bruce Willis, at the end of Hudson Hawk (shut up, I LIKED it) asked "Will you play Nintendo with me?". Wow! Off went my letter to the magazine which killed the feature stone dead by the next issue. It looked like games weren't ready to penetrate the mainstream consciousness.

Cut to:
The year is 2010, C.U. of 10 Downing Street's door mat. A bright green magazine. A pair of Superman slippers right of frame.

As a 36-page taster, Invert Look does a really nice job of creating an absorbing and entertaining genre magazine that actually disobeys the rules of the genre completely, for a wide gamut of readers. I for one am not the archetype who'd buy Edge, Gamer or the like. I read as a designer who dips into Red Dead, fiddles with twitter, drops in on Facebook. Via tight features including an interview with Edgar Wright, a biog of an hitherto unknown Nintendo cornerstone employee and an essay on the basic human sociological need to play, Invert Look raises questions about 'a new state of play' (their mast tagline). Of how culturally significant gaming has become; an integral colourful fibre meshed in the pullover of society, with no sign of it unravelling any time soon.

From the outset, Invert Look succeeds, and I'm sure will flourish, by inviting us all to the party. Come in gamers, Tweeters and Facebookers, programmers, designers and writers, and bring your friends. Help yourself to drinks and buffet. There's plenty for everyone. We're just waiting for David Cameron to arrive. He's bringing the trifle.