Reflections on 20 years of this

It goes without saying that a lot has changed in the 20 years that Games Asylum has been kicking around. But we’ve never been ones to shy away from pointing out the obvious, so here we go: another birthday piece.

While a lot has changed, a lot hasn’t changed too. Let’s have a look at the top selling games of 2001:

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  2. Grand Theft Auto 3
  3. FIFA 2002
  4. Gran Turismo 3
  5. Pokemon Gold
  6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
  7. Pokemon Silver
  8. The Simpsons Wrestling
  9. Championship Manager: Season 01/02
  10. Theme Park World

Versions aside, that could almost pass for a current chart – it’s only the couple of licensed games that really give it away. Well, that and the fact that half the chart isn’t Switch-exclusives. So OK, things have changed: digital marketplaces, free-to-play, subscription services. A lot has changed.

Hell, even Earls Court, where we used to pretend to be real people at once-big industry event ECTS has been smashed up.

The experience of writing for the site has changed massively too. On a purely practical point, I was on a dial-up modem when we started Games Asylum.

I have a very clear memory of sitting at my desk, chatting to Adam and Matt on probably IRC or Yahoo Messenger, desperately trying to download the E3 videos Nintendo had uploaded to their press site. Downloading images took long enough in those days, but the pain was worth it to seeing freshly announced games in action.

It was genuinely exciting to have access to completely new content, especially because it was a virtually level playing field. By working absurdly hard, and absurdly late, we had as much chance of being first with most E3 news as any site – if anything, we benefited from not having the distraction of being on-site. And it showed in the site traffic.

But that’s all changed. We’ve changed – we don’t have the time or inclination to try to compete like that. And the industry has changed – more exclusives, more leaks, more teases.

Video has changed too. Hosting video used to be horrifyingly expensive, and even more so if – no, when – other unscrupulous, bandwidth-leeching sites direct-linked to it. In fact, that was an issue even with hot-linking images.

Now? YouTube pumps billions onto Google’s bottom line every year by hosting anything and everything for anyone and everyone. Which has had an impact on what a games site is.

Image: Willi Heidelbach, CC BY-SA 3.0

The written word is becoming less popular. Personally, it’s still how I want to consume my gaming content: nice paragraphs, with nice images around them. But increasingly images in articles are being replaced by adverts, and articles are being replaced by videos. I understand: it’s driven by commercial imperative. And I know I sound like a spectacularly old man. But still: bah.

And that’s why we’re still here. Yes, dabbling badly in video content now and then, and giving the social media stuff a bit of a go. But mostly continuing to bash out the old words, sentences and paragraphs. Hopeful that there are still a few people out there who like reading words about games. We might not have the exuberance of youth any more, but I for one still love games, and possibly even more, writing niche content about them.

So if you’d indulge me, I’d like to propose a toast: to niche content!

Leave a Comment