Sometime, all the way back in 2003, I got a call from my good friend and editor of the Danish games magazine >pc player, Morten Skovgaard.
We had been sharing an office for a few years and apart from being a freelance writer for his magazine, among others, I also did graphic design work for a couple of publishers. That was the reason why he called.
The layouter doing >pc player had decided to leave, would I be interested in taking over? Sure – a steady monthly freelance gig doing layouts on a games magazine, basically combining some of my favorite things to do, I would have been a fool to say anything but yes.
Walking in someone else’s shoes
I took over the layouts of >pc player with the July issue in 2003. The cover featured Max Payne 2, and it was done just after returning from the E3 expo. It was a baptism by fire.
The deadline was tight, I had a lot of writing to do on the back of E3 and I had decided to convert the entire layout process from QuarkXpress to InDesign.
Doing >pc player meant stepping into a layout that had been redone and redone well some years earlier. But also a layout that had developed some odd quirks due to a lack of overview, mixups and what have you.
I did manage to tighten the layout a bit along the way, but it always felt like walking in someone else’s shoes. And being a writer and editor myself, I also began to have ambitions on behalf of the magazine.
Games are about experiences not hardware
Morten Skovgaard shared the same ambition. We both wanted to change the magazine to move away from the focus on pc and instead do a magazine about great game experiences rather than hardware formats.
We wanted a games magazine for readers such as ourselves, for whom e.g. great graphics wasn’t about the number of polygons, resolution or frame rate but rather about whether the visual style and expression matched the gameplay experience.
That is why we chose to relaunch >pc player in March 2010 under the name Gameplay and redesign both the visual and editorial style of the magazine.
Keeping it simple is the key
The editorial style choices made were a lot about tone of voice – trying to make the writing just a bit more accessible to non-gamers. But it also had to do with simplifying everything from overall categories of articles to fact boxes and review scores.
The redesign of the layout (done in close collaboration with Bo Jørgensen) was a reflection of the editorial choices. Using the original layout as inspiration, but again simplifying it, making it easier to read and work while opening it up to make room for fun and inventive layouts when a story called for it.
The last issue of Gameplay was published in August 2014. We had to close the magazine as ad revenues declined drastically and moved online along with ‘games journalism’.
I am to this day still very proud of Gameplay as a magazine. So in a fit of pure nostalgia I decided to collect all 68 Gameplay covers as a poster – the reason why there are more covers than magazines is that for a little over a year we did double covers just for the fun of it.
You can download the poster in full print resolution here (47 MB) – feel free to print it out if you want.