John Walker's Electronic House

Tag: They’re Back

On Signing Off From PC Gamer And They’re Back

by on May.31, 2011, under The Rest

It’s the end of a personal era. The edition of PC Gamer that should be arriving with subscribers in a couple of days (in shops in about a week) will contain my last ever They’re Back.

They’re Back is PC Gamer’s budget section. Two pages dedicated to re-reviewing games that are either being re-released at a lower price, or coming out in a new bundle. And since 1999 I’ve been filling it up with as much irrelevant guff as I can get away with.

I’ve written 148 of them, over twelve years, which I think is probably some sort of record. And I’m really proud of what I’ve done.

My passion for magazines was born in the 1980s, reading wonderful nonsense in Your Sinclair, then Zero and the very early (pre its tedious laddish reinvention in the mid-to-late 90s) PC Zone (it got better again, of course). Inspired by writers like Rich Pelley, Stuart Campbell, J Nash and Charlie Brooker, I saw an opportunity for combining a love of silly comedy and playing games. Not an opportunity I was smart enough to realise I could take before a disastrous attempt to become a biologist, but an investment in my future that eventually hugely paid off. As a reader of PC Gamer in my teens, and reinspired by Kieron Gillen’s writing in my very early 20s, I was eventually lucky enough to get freelance work on the magazine, at the same time as pursuing a career as a youth worker. Two of the best jobs imaginable.

Very early on I was asked to take over They’re Back from Steve Owen, who had written it since its inception. The section immediately struck me as inherently pointless. The reviews of the games had all appeared in PC Gamer around six months previously, so readers already knew if they were any good. The whole spread could have been simply replaced by a small box in the corner of page 17 with the five game names, new price, and then a comment on whether they were more worth purchasing at this lower price. Which meant it shone out to me as a space for what I’d always loved about magazines: room to be silly.

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