You’re Playing It Wrong: the debut column, from Edge issue one

You're Playing It Wrong

Can you believe Edge has been around for 20 years now? I’ll never forget that summer in 1993 when the ring of a transparent landline phone changed my life forever. The caller wanted to know if I would join a staff of seasoned videogame journalists as a columnist in a new magazine, which surprised me so much I spilled Crystal Pepsi all over a stack of Pogs.

The job offer was a shock because my sole publication credit then was a letter to Nintendo Power – a rap about Double Dragon in iambic pentameter – and I was, in fact, barely 14 years old. After Edge’s editor persuaded my mom that he was not a child predator, I accepted the brief and the rest is history. The magazine grew into an international juggernaut, not only surviving the Internet’s genocidal spree against physical magazines but thriving in an almost ostentatious way. Look at those spot varnishes and foils used on the cover! It’s the kind of print treatment you’d imagine a Monaco oil baron using on his wedding invitations.

Meanwhile, You’re Playing It Wrong became the widely beloved institution it is today, spawning spin-offs from You’re Cooking It Wrong to Estás Jugando Mal, not to mention a certain Internet meme you know so well. Its contributions to the culture were ultimately recognised with eight successive Pulitzer nods for Silly Gaming Journalism – a category in which it was the only nominee.

As inevitable as the column’s global influence seems now, if you had told me in 1993 that I’d still be writing it two decades later, I probably would have given you a purple nurple while screeching like a velociraptor (Jurassic Park was huge that summer). Worldwide renown was still beyond my wildest dreams, which were then more concerned with ambiguous scenarios involving Cindy Crawford – who I went on to marry and have two lovely children, Slater and Fennel, with.

Birthdays are a time for reflection and mortification and, in honour of Edge’s 20th, what follows is a reprint – warts and all, but with contemporary annotations – of my very first column from the August 1993 debut issue, which was themed ‘The Changing Face of Videogames’ and made almost mystical claims about a new system on the horizon, the 3DO. Faithful readers who grew up on YPIW know that it often attempts to foretell the future of gaming, and as luck would have it, I chose to survey the landscape of 2013 back in 1993. Let’s see how my predictions fared…

Cowabunga, dudes! [I can’t remember why I thought a TMNT catchphrase was a great opener during the franchise’s declining Turtles In Time era.] I still have to finish a book report on Animal Farm tonight and Blossom is on in half an hour, so I can’t promise I’ll finish this whole column. [Blossom was a popular sitcom about wearing enormous floppy hats, which apparently meant more to me than writing for a national magazine.] Anyways, can you believe this changing face of videogames of ours? You know what would make it look even better? DEEZ NUTS! [Specifically, this was a reference to Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, although I’m afraid my early columns all leaned heavily on testicle-based jokes.] I wonder what it will look like in 20 years.

With the Super Nintendo and Genesis on the way out and the Jaguar and 3DO on the way in, Atari and Panasonic will be THE big names in gaming in 2013. Why? One word: polygons. [I had no idea what this buzzword meant but played off my ignorance nicely here.] These new systems either have a ton of polygons or just a few really fancy ones, whichever is good. [Not so much here. And of course, the 3DO would fail because of a price point equivalent to that of a medical catastrophe; the Jaguar because of a powerful programming architecture that required expertise in Martian calculus to make games on.] The only thing that might save Nintendo now is the revolutionary Super FX Chip, which makes polygons spin three times faster [not even close] and will surely be used in way more than four or five games [oops].

In 2013, who knows whether Atari and Panasonic games will be played on screens, holograms or even the ‘World Wide Web’? [A touch of prescience there!] But one thing is for sure: they won’t have any violence in them, which sucks. Mortal Kombat has come to consoles and sparked a huge debate over whether violence in videogames is a dangerous influence. Those who argue that it’s not suffered an eerily symbolic setback this week when Hiram Wigglesbottom, the 94-year-old creator of pioneering analogue computer game Cursor Skirmish, died after a deranged Mortal Kombat fan uppercutted his head off at a convention booth, mistaking him for Reptile.

This is why we shouldn’t expect much current impact or lasting influence from an upcoming id Software title about running through corridors shooting zombies, called Doom. Rumour has it that you can’t even see your character. No chance that will ever catch on! Furthermore… [Mercifully, the column ends mid-sentence – Blossom came on.]

Illustration: Marsh Davies