... and what a state it’s in!

There’s this cynical tradition at CRASH that when the editor can’t think what to write in his editorial on the last day before printing he’ll put down some meaningless ‘state of the industry’ musings. These usually turn on the observation that tie-ins and coin-op licences are growing ever more important.

Well, tie-ins and coin-op licences have been growing ever more important since the world was without form and void, because now the software houses can afford to buy licences — and the film producers, TV stations, Garfield grandees and so on are more aware of the marketing possibilities of computer games. Gradual movement into the mainstream of home entertainment... industry coming of age... 16-bit revolution... yawn.

You’ve heard it all before. But then there are only 4,000,000 of you — Spectrum owners, that is. And it’s a different kind of licence we should be thinking about: the TV licence. There are only some 20,000,000 of those in the land, yet look at the attention TV gets — in the national press every day, in the public eye every evening. Why shouldn’t the home computer get that kind of coverage? Why shouldn’t cycling simulators get as much coverage as cycling, a minority spectator sport?

No national newspaper runs regular home-computer features; when they do discuss home computers, it’s usually in stories of the absurd ‘automated house of the future’ strain that resurfaced in the Daily Mail today (February 10). (And it’s usually headlined CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING.)

Or it’s about Jack The Ripper (because it’s 18-rated) or Tetris (because it’s Russian — hey, guys, it’s that crazy crazy glasnost!).

Like it or not, computer games — and the dear old ever-so-British and unfashionably cheap Spectrum — still have a trainspotting image. Only the macho coin-ops pass street-cred’s muster.

Organisations such as the British Micro Federation and the Guild of Software Houses haven’t done much. We can preen and chatter and call our interest — whether it’s a commercial or hobby interest — ‘leisure software’ instead of ‘computer games’ all we like, but only wider awareness of the games themselves will do the trick. And perhaps a shorter, catchier moniker than ‘home computer’ would help!

Perhaps SAM, the cheap new Spectrum-type computer discovered by CRASH and previewed on page 58 will help too; perhaps there’ll be as many monitors as TV sets one day. But till then, why not write to your favourite newspaper and ask it to cover computer games?