Hello, fellow Sega Maniacs! I’m genuinely excited to be writing to you all because that means I have the privilege of working on a project that really speaks to me, and that I truly believe in. As soon as I saw Sega Mania magazine pop up in Retro Gamer (with some pretty harsh questions thrown at Tim, it must be said), I knew I had to check it out, and once I noticed the help wanted ad in the back cover I was on it like Sonic.
I’ve been a Sega fan since I was about five years-old. The year was 1991, and a friend of mine from infant school had himself a Sega Master System II. No prizes for guessing that my first experience was enhanced significantly because the built-in game featured a guy named Alex Kidd. I was a kid. Alex is my name! My formative gaming years were largely spent having to use my friends to play on their consoles, as my parents wouldn’t let me have one of my own. I visited this dude a lot - so too another kid from my class who had something even better – a Mega Drive with Sonic 2.
I wasn’t ready to form an allegiance back then, as I’d frequently use the company of other friends for goes on NES and SNES consoles in order to sample the full smorgasbord of early 90s gaming; all the while planning how to convince the parents to give in and buy me one. When they eventually relented, my opinion didn’t really come into the equation anyway. Here you go, Alex, we got you a Game Gear. It came with a handful of games, but they were distributed to me one-at-a-time every month in exchange for my ‘pocket money’ (this was merely a fictitious transaction, as no money ever changed hands) and that was that. It would have been a handy lesson in patience and opportunity cost, except I knew where they hid the games and they’d bought me a portable console, so I’d often sneak into their room for a go on Sonic Chaos whenever I was fed up with Taz-Mania.
No doubt the Game Gear is a nifty handheld (at least until it overheated and melted the batteries a decade later. RIP), but I wanted that full home console experience, and the hand-me-down Amiga just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted Sonic. Admittedly, when the time came I also wanted Mario, but you can’t have both, kiddo! My dad is very frugal man, and he loves a bargain. My first console choice was given to me the way Lionel Hutz differentiates between the truth and the truth. I could have a crappy SNES with one terrible Super Mario World game and NOTHING ELSE. Or I could have a Sega Multi Mega – it plays games from two consoles, son – with NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat II (irresponsible parenting), World of Illusion, Road Avenger, Jaguar XJ220 and FIFA International Soccer. The decision practically made itself.
So there I was, a Sega kid. It was decided. As time went on and disposable income came my way, my gaming obsession spanned each and every platform and now represents a pretty nifty games room setup. Gaming is quite literally in my blood, as I’ve commemorated 30 years of fanaticism into a sleeve tattoo that displays a spectrum of nostalgic memories and serves as a monument to never being ashamed of what you love. It also shows that Skies of Arcadia is the best JRPG ever, but you all know that already.
Irreparably scarring yourself for life with Umbrella Corp logos and Chaos Emeralds isn’t a required prerequisite to write for Sega Mania Magazine, though. Perhaps more relevant is that I’ve been writing and podcasting about games since 2009. All of it totally unsuccessful, all of it you’ll definitely have never heard of, all of it having never made a single penny, but it’s given me some cool adventures along the way – press passes to Gamescom in 2018 being the highlight.
Starting off with my own website alongside my university friend David, A Winner Is You was our entry into games journalism. With plenty of time to waste during my Media Studies degree and an incredibly advantageous part-time job at Blockbuster, we actually managed to eke out a decent following due to the fact I could pilfer rental copies a week early and pretend we had exclusive pre-release reviews. We got ourselves nominated for a best gaming podcast award… at least that’s what David tells me, even though I never saw it and he can’t remember what award it was or where it was from. Never taking it off my CV, either way.
Running your own site with just two blokes is tough. Too tough, so for the past five years or so I’ve been writing for GoombaStomp.com, and recently rebooted A Winner Is You as a game club podcast, focusing on deep dives into one game per episode – both old and new. If checking that out will get you a better insight into the huge mistake Tim made in hiring me, you can do so here. I also read and speak a little Japanese, so if we ever start covering imports I may be of some use.
All of my experiences have helped hone my writing style and keep my passion for games burning, but Sega Mania is a different beast altogether. An actual printed magazine, written in the style of the mags I grew up reading, talking about awesome old games, and working with really talented writers who work their arses off just for the love of it. I’ve found kindred spirits in that regard, and I can’t wait to meet more of you once I’m fully embedded into the magazine in issue 4 (I’ve done a handful of bits in issue 3).
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and thanks for supporting this brilliant magazine. I can confidently tell you with insider knowledge that Sega Mania is just hitting its stride and will continue to get better and better. I hope you all love it as much as we love doing it. Loving it a little less than that is fine too. Oh, and as I’m writing this my wife is having contractions roughly every six minutes – we can’t go into the maternity unit until it’s every three minutes – so if anyone has tips on how to keep playing and writing about games with a newborn baby in the house, please tweet me. See you in issue 3!