July 24th, 2005

Next Generation

Next Generation was my favorite videogaming magazine. Compared to its peers - EGM, GamePlayers, GamePro, GameFan, etc. - it was refreshingly insightful, lined with excellent column-writers from all parts of the game world, perfect reviews, filled with amazing interviews and fresh features (which were all promptly copied from other mags), and had a decidedly mature tone. It didnt treat you like the 13 year old EGM assumed you were, and even if I was 13 at the time (actually, more like 14/15), I was able to read Next Gen and instantly feel more informed.

Of course, it wasnt perfect - the excellent editorial quality faltered as time went on, they were loose with facts at time, etc. Imagine Media cut them off abruptly sometime in 2001, and well there hasnt been a similar magazine since. Some mags have incorporated some of Next Gen's ideas on writing and approach but it hasnt been the same.

So imagine my surprise when Next Gen relaunched as a website. And, in my humble opinion, they couldnt have picked a better time - IGN is an ugly mess of a game site, GameSpot has been faltering for a long time, and there are no solid independent sites the way there used to be (history lesson: IGN - Imagine Games Network, that is, used to be, literally, a network of small fan-run sites on all sorts of game-related topics).

It feels, in many ways, much like the old mag and site - the daily on-time updates, a focus on the things that dont generally draw attention to the things not talked about on the other sites. The articles are short, sweet, and fit on a single page. There is a bare minimum of advertisements - no McNextGen or anything like that. Its all very good and feels very much like Next Gen would have been had it not been axed.

There are a few complaints, though: the site is currently very column-heavy, and its lacking a proper framework for the content (the generic categories on the side dont give a clear indication of what type of text we will be looking at). Some reviews in the old-NG style would be welcome, but I can understand why theyd want to avoid that grind. And the columns are excellent.

Check it out.