Why Diskmags have totally gone out of fashion? Where have all the diskmags gone? JP-Main editor Ghandy tries to explain the reasons for the ...
… lack of scene journalism. Is there any hope for diskmags?
Why diskmags have totally gone out of fashion!
by Lars „Ghandy“ Sobiraj of Nukleus
This is the situation in 2022
If you look at the present circumstances regarding the diskmag scene, it paints a really sad picture.
The last issue of „Hugi„, issue 21, came out 8 years ago. The final version of „pain #59“ was published in January 2008. „Zine„, which was once an Amiga mag, also came out for Windows a short time later, in August 2010.
What all three main editors have in common: They went into their jobs full time at the same time, and Axel’s family situation added to that. Unlock and Adok finished their studies and now have no more time for this time-consuming hobby.
On the Amiga, things look almost as sad. „Versus“ by Nukleus was published as a Christmas present in 2019. There’s no sign of a new issue. In addition, our baby „Jurassic Pack“ comes out with a year’s interval. Last but not least, „Irregular Review„, the last issue of which, number 4, did hit the streets in December 2017. We asked Spaceballs via Facebook a few years ago and got the reply, that the main editor Slummy has changed his interests. Probably this might change the sooner or later, maybe not. Who knows!?
ZX Spectrum diskmags
On the ZX Spectrum it also doesn’t look that bright. Here we have three productions called „acnews“ from December 2021 and from Spring last year the „info guide“ and „Subliminal Extacy„. Only these three came out more or less regular.
There are other projects in foreign languages like f.e. „Overshadow“ or those like „Rapid News„, which are rather small. Last, but not least we have those like „Scene World“ mostly dealing with retro computing instead with the scene. But we should mention their existence anyway.
Things might look better there, but we may not forget, that the Commodore 64 is also by far the most active platform when it comes to the demoscene. By the way. As a well-known representative of the Amiga scene, the former „ROM“ maineditor Mop from Ex-Essence recently appears as editor on „Vandalism News“.
People now get their information elsewhere
But why is that actually the case? Why do so few people care about diskmags anymore? There are still new intros, demos etc. on all computer platforms, but when it comes to scene journalism, the air gets quite thin very quickly.
There are variations where interested people go to get their information. Places like the Pouet board, where people exchange information about all kinds of things. Or, for example, the forum Amigalife.org, where the user 4Play has put a lot of interesting interviews with various sceners online. Among them are well-known personalities such as Rubberduck, Corial, Bifat or J.O.E., about whom you can otherwise read very little. The number of hits is quite high, ranging from 2,000 to well over 7.000 hits per interview.
In addition, there are podcasts as a new form of presentation. At the last edition of the „Zine Radio Show #19″, Gargaj, Ziphoid, Axel and Okkie discussed why nobody writes articles for the scene anymore. No doubt, podcasts are convenient to consume. Why? Just because you can listen to them on the train or in the car. But they can really only be a supplement and not a substitute for diskmags.
In addition, free PDF magazines like „Lotek 64“ and others are put online at regular intervals, some of which also offer scene-relevant content. Of course, they have the advantage that they function absolutely independently of the computer platform, which is why they can be viewed on almost any device. Last but not least, we should mention a few YouTube channels like that one from PS, that deal with the demoscene.
There used to be some WordPress blogs, but they’ve all kind of disappeared from the scene. Of course it’s convenient to read articles online. But the real feeling of a disc magazine with beautiful panels, clipart and music just doesn’t come up while using the internet.
So what’s the reason for the situation? We asked around and the interest in reading offline mags remains mostly high. It’s just that nobody wants to make them any more. But why?
The answer is obvious and sounds almost too banal. And additionally it’s actually quite simple. In the last 30 years, the scene has melted into a small block. Even then, the fraction of Diskmag producers was very small. In the early 90s, there were maybe one or two editors for every 100 sceners who specialised in it, that’s all there were. And since the number of active people has decreased significantly in recent decades, this comparatively small faction simply no longer exists. If there’s almost nobody left who’s motivated to focus on offline mags, they simply do not exist anymore. It’s simple as that.
Everybody else have become accustomed to it in the meantime. They exchange information on Facebook, Discord or formerly on IRC, ICQ or Skype. They now read the news or visit the Pouet board. That’s enough for many to keep themselfs up to date.
In 1992 I was hot with anticipation when I downloaded the new issue of RAW, Seenpoint, of the Eurocharts, The Charts or of D.I.S.C. with my modem. It took me some minutes to grab it completely and unpack the DMS-file. We all knew, anyone who did read RAW or Rom knew what was happening in the scene. Back then, when there was no internet for the masses, you still counted every second until you could finally start the disk.
Today everything could be easier, at least theoretically and much faster. To transfer 800 kilobytes via internet costs you nothing and is finished in a few moments. But that doesn’t help us in this case.
Despite the technical progress, with the changes that have taken place during all this time, this one tradition has been almost completely lost. Yes, for sure this is sad.
Can that still be changed?
Probably not. You can only show it to people. You can get them hooked and hope that in the future there will be more people who are willing to spend their free time making executable magazines. Depeche Mode once encouraged their listeners. The asked them: „Try walking in my shoes, try stumble in my footsteps“.
I think we should try something similar. Maybe it helps to improve the current situation. Let’s face the facts: On the Amiga, musicians have new tools like the Pretracker or AmigaKlang to make their lives easier. Or there exists programming tools like vscode-amiga-debug, which is also constantly being developed. For authors of articles or interviews, there are no tools to keep them motivated. Of course with deepl.com and similar online services it’s easier to translate your ideas into another language, but that’s all that could help us.