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Showing posts with label Dreamcast Monthly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dreamcast Monthly. Show all posts

Interview: Out of Print Archive

Many gamers of a certain age will no doubt recall those halcyon days when the only way to really get your fix of gaming news, was to await the monthly publication of your favourite magazine. The internet of the early '90s was far removed from the internet of present year, and as such watching video of new releases or flipping through hi-resolution images direct from developer on social media wasn't something you could do. Indeed, most of my early memories of using the internet to find out about new game releases involve sneaking into the school IT suite at lunchtimes to employ Alta Vista in my insatiable quest for knowledge. Oh, and using Game Sages to get cheats. Does anyone else remember Game Sages or am I just making that website up?

Kids these days will never know the anticipation of that illuminated N *shakes fist at cloud*

Yes, back in the day, the magazine was king and it was through reading those printed materials that I took an interest in pursuing games journalism as a profession. Nowadays, I'm actually quite glad that I am not a professional games journalist, such is the the way online discourse has morphed, but for a period back in the late '90s and early 2000s it was all I wanted to do with my life. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that ambition either. 

Magazines of that period, and more to the point - the people who created them, were our heroes. They were the influencers of their day. Gus Swan, Marcus Hawkins, Caspar Field, Les Ellis, Jaz Rignall, Radion Automatic, Zy Nicholson, Wil Overton, Paul Davies, Keith Stuart, Simon Phillips, Ed Lomas, Tim Weaver, Mean Yob...just a few of the names I can instantly rattle off as an avid reader of a plethora of UK magazines from the 90s and 2000s. And I'm sure those in other parts of the world, and of a certain age can name the authors of their favourite magazines too.

The point I'm trying to make is that magazines were a huge part of many gamers' formative years, and the popularity of podcast Maximum Power Up's superb series of interviews with journos of yesteryear proves this. Furthermore, one website which encapsulates the magic of print media and preserving those memories is the excellent Out of Print Archive. A repository for digitised copies of print magazines of a bygone era, the Out of Print Archive has cemented itself as one of the premier online destinations for anyone who is looking to re-read those magical tomes of their childhood and take a walk down memory lane.

For this reason, we thought it would be pretty cool to speak to the people behind Out of Print Archive, ask them where the inspiration for the site came from, their digitisation process for various Dreamcast-related (and other format) magazines, and to find out what makes them - and the Archive itself - tick. Enjoy...


DCJY: Thanks so much for agreeing to speak to us about all things magazines! Could you tell us a bit about who you are, and what your roles are at Out of Print Archive?

Andy: Hello, my name is Andy (meppi64), I’m from Belgium and I’m working my way through scanning all my UK magazines, editing and restoring them. I also do all the coding and design work on the website itself and I run the Twitter account.

Neil: Hi, I'm Neil, I'm from the United Kingdom (Scotland) and I am one of the admins at Out of Print Archive. One of my initial roles when starting the project was to reach out to the UK publishers in an effort to obtain permission (officially and unofficially) to archive their back catalogue of gaming magazines. 

This allowed us to archive classic video gaming magazines without the nagging feeling that a publisher might come along with a cease and desist order. I have also written the odd article on classic magazines and have caught up with a few important people from the magazines in questions for an interview or input for a feature.

What’s the origin story of the Out of Print Archive? When and why did you decide to set up the site?

Neil: I have always been a fan of classic gaming magazines which lead me to create my own digital retro gaming magazine called Retroaction in 2008. After the release of the first issue, Carl, a fellow retro gaming magazine fan commented on how the ‘zine reminded him of the classic magazine GameFan, particularly its design and layout. 

He asked if he could post the news of the release with a small write up on the retro gaming forums where he was one of the admins along with Andy. This in turn introduced me to the world of magazine archiving and to Andy and his fantastic method of archiving Official Sega Saturn Magazine. I knew then that I wanted my own magazines to be archived in a similar way.

By 2009, we felt we needed to start our own archiving project. One that was totally transparent: free from ads, donations, or any other hindrance. Our main reason for this was to follow on from one of our main goals, in that to reach out to the publishers from yesteryear and get their permission to archive their back catalogue of magazines.

Andy: Originally I came across just 3 digital scans of the Official Sega Saturn magazine online, this must have been somewhere around 2004-2005. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find any more. Reading through these made me remember just how incredible this magazine was and how it was seemingly lost to time, hardly 6 years after the final issue was released.


So this set things in motion for me. I started the hunt down a complete set, with the goal to scan them (in a rather poor fashion at that time) and looking for various ways to get them into peoples hands again. From here, it snowballed into collecting a lot more magazines.


I met Neil as well as Carl, who has since moved on to other projects, on a message board and after a lot of trial and error, as well as seeing how several scanning projects handled things in ways we didn’t agree with, we decided to set up our own site. Focussing on putting quality above everything else, but also doing things with respect towards not just the publishers, but also the editors, writers, designers, etc.

Basically all the people who originally created these magazines we all fell in love with at one point of our lives.


Wow, so we effectively owe the creation of the Out of Print Archive in some way to the Official Sega Saturn Magazine. Not what I was expecting! You clearly have a love of print media - what are your earliest memories of print magazines?

Andy: My earliest memories of a print magazine has to be Club Nintendo. Not quite sure how I found out about it, but I believe there was some kind of postcard included with certain NES games, which you could send in to Nintendo to request a subscription. Once you were signed up, every 2 months you would receive a free copy of Club Nintendo magazine, which lasted from 1989 to 1993.

Neil: My earliest memory of print magazine is picking up C+VG in 1988. I was fairly late to notice magazines, considering I had been playing games for at least three years up until that point, but C+VG opened my eyes to the wonders that were out there. I eventually reserved a copy of C+VG and continued to receive a copy of it until the early 2000s. My other earliest memory is of grabbing a copy of Amstrad Action in 1989. It was an anniversary issue where they gave away a cover-mounted cassette tape with demos and freeware stuff. This issue also reviewed one of my favourite computer games of all time, Laser Squad.