The end of an era: CGW/GFW 1981 – 2008

Well, this was unpleasant news. Even though it wasn’t called CGW anymore, I did like reading GFW, but it’s closure to some readers will mean a lot more than the failure of a magazine to stay in print. In many ways, it’s also a sobering wake up call for how much the industry of information has changed in how it must compete to deliver the latest scoop to its readers by going online as 1Up.

I guess that unless you happen to be part of the Game Informer/Gamestop uber alliance, you’re going to feel the crunch that the ‘net’s ability to deliver information at the speed of thought has brought down across the board. But Games for Windows was kind of different. In a previous life, was known as CGW which, even further back, was known as Computer Gaming World.

Computer Gaming World was one of those magazines that took itself and its hobby as seriously as Dragon Magazine did RPGs, treating its readers like adults no matter what age they happened to be with a mix of humor, straight talk, and plenty of news from within the industry to grace its pages. In those days, it reviewed games and used no scores providing only the facts and impressions that lay inside the box. Scorpia’s wit entertained adventure gamers and RPGers alike in her monthly columns, Charles Ardai’s sharply worded prose hit everything you needed to know about a game, and before Quartermann ever hit EGM, there were the stories from the Rumor Bag.

CGW was also subject to the whim of the market and of the conditions that were changing around it. The first changes were the embarassing adult ads that started filling in the back end of the magazine much to the dismay of longtime readers who believed, rightfully so, that the magazine was cheapening itself by catering to such ads. Johnny Wilson, longtime editor of CGW, explained that the magazine needed to court revenue in order to stay in circulation in one of his replies to the many letters written to his office after the fact. However, the readers won out and the magazine pulled the ads in order to find another way to pay the bills which it managed to do.

Another change was in how thin the magazine had started to become as the Internet became the newest competitor for on-the-spot news and demos. For a magazine that was regularly 150+ pages, or nearly twice that during the holiday season, it’s thinning profile and lighter articles were a sign that things weren’t doing as well as they could be by the end of the nineties. Ratings had also entered into the equation, the magazine was renamed CGW, and several years later, would become GFW. Charles Ardai and a few others such as Scorpia and Johnny Wilson would eventually leave the magazine in the hands of a new staff of writers who did their best to keep the traditions set down by the venerable founders alive and for the most part, they did. The writing had changed from the sobering seriousness of its predecessor into something a bit more everyday, casual, and in some cases, it worked out.

GFW was, I felt, a near return to form for the publication with well written articles, intelligent views on the industry, and a concise analysis on what was great with a game and what wasn’t. Unfortunately, even this wasn’t enough to keep it in print and so…after nearly more than 27 in the business…the last incarnation of what had been Computer Gaming World had ceased to be.

I spent many an hour poring over the pages of CGW, soaking in every adventure written by Scorpia’s hand and keeping myself informed on the latest goings on with titles that I couldn’t play, satisfying my curiosity as to what developers were imagining next. It was a fantastic time to read with writers that took their craft as seriously as we would hope that games could be taken, that as a mirror of what games could become, Computer Gaming World helped to pave for players and designers alike an insightful road into keeping the next generation inspired in sharing their imaginations with the world.

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