The world felt a little poorer yesterday when Ziff Davis announced the cancellation of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. It’s been years since I bought an issue, but I still vividly remember it as one of the joys promised by my weekly allowance in the early 90’s. The issues back then were monstrous, chock full of reviews, previews and curious looking ads. Large sections of the magazine were dedicated to Japanese games. They were primitive by today’s standards, but by 1993’s standards, they were all but magical. Some of them even offered a glimpse of this advanced form of cartoons known as “anime”, which at the time was mostly found on Nth generation VHS tapes in the back rooms of specialty comic book stores.
The passing of EGM makes sense. Over the internet I can get printed columns, talk radio, and even entire television shows dedicated to video games. Why bother with a magazine that’s going to be stuffing a closet within a month? Still, no one likes to see a piece of their youth dry up and blow away. Now that we have this recession on our hands, we can expect more of this sort of thing.
Everyone has a little corner of happiness that just isn’t economically viable anymore. It might be a favourite shop that’s closed down, a cancelled television show, or sports team that’s folded. We rationalize by telling ourselves that we’ve grown out of the things that we like, but when you’re fighting through the daily commute, getting yelled at at work, and paying your taxes, what’s so grown up about dealing with all that and gradually abandoning your happiness options?
In 2001, I attended Sakuracon, my first anime convention. It was a reward I gave myself after a university co-op, but it was really an excuse just to leave town for a while. It was apparent that I wasn’t going to graduate that year, and my social life was going nowhere. Thinking anime was still a rapidly shrinking niche genre, I was expecting a few card tables of merchandise in the dealers room and maybe a video room. I could not have been more wrong. There were at least a half dozen video rooms, a full dealers room, cosplayers, and riveting panel seminars. I also made friends that are still with me today.
What I’m trying to say is, don’t let go of those things you cherish, even if they seem silly. Following your passion can lead you to good places, even if that place is in an easy chair listening to a favorite album or reading a favorite book. It doesn’t matter that what you like isn’t economically viable at the time. Anime was on the rise when I went to that convention, but now most of the companies that translate and sell it in the west are scaling back like most companies these days. There’s a cycle to these things. Even as trends ebb and flow, we can always find new ways to experience what we like.