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Digitiser: A Eulogy
by: David Thair Saturday 15 March 2003
Most people have a morning routine – even if that routine is simply
(1) getting out of bed,
(2) putting on the least smelly clothes to hand, and (3) going to work.
For the best part of a decade, mine was punctuated by a burst of surreal comedy and unbiased, up-to-date journalism written with such wit that it regularly had me snorting on cornflakes – even when I wasn’t eating any.
'Digitiser' was, supposedly, a videogames magazine. Although it changed location a number of times, Digitiser remained a reliable bastion of satirical journalistic integrity on a format that, let’s face it, is generally populated by authors who are either rubbish in the first place, or unable to get to grips with its technical limitations: Teletext. As anyone who has ever pressed the ‘text’ button on their TV remote (perhaps with the intention of reading the football scores or calling a shockingly overpriced astrology hotline) will know, Teletext is an ancient and mysterious technology that broadcasts pages of text and oh-so blocky graphics right into your telly. This format is fine if you want to broadcast football scores, but not so great if you want to write anything of length, as each page can hold depressingly few characters.
By the end of Digi’s run, author Paul Rose (aka ‘Mr Biffo’) had perfectly honed his writing abilities to, within a very restrictive environment, convey all necessary information about a subject while injecting it with outlandish humour. Something that, as will gradually become apparent throughout this article, is very difficult for some of us to pull off.
Generally speaking, on weekdays Digitiser would be split into various games-related sections including: News, Previews, Reviews, Letters, Cheats and Charts. At the weekends, readers would have to make do with just one issue to last both days. However, for a long time at weekends we were treated to columns by respected figures in the arena of games journalism (if, indeed, such things exist) who were given the opportunity to have a little more freedom in what they wrote than perhaps they would in other publications. Notable regulars included “Edge’s” Tony Mott, Stuart Campbell (whose website is linked to over the page) and Violet Berlin, who you may or may not recognise as one of the playable characters in Micro Machines 2…
Other weekend features included transcripts of prank phone calls to games-related retailers, a personal favourite being when a retailer was repeatedly asked if they stocked a “Pipeston” until they got quite upset. The “Pipeston” obviously being a non-existent peripheral for the (now defunct) Dreamcast that I like to imagine is some kind of electronic pipe. At the weekends, the letters pages often swelled to many times their usual size to make room for ‘heated’ ‘debate’ over a Hot Topic, to which I had been known to contribute, usually assuming the role of blinkered Nintendo Zealot.
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