Player One Chronicles
The hero of a whole generation, Player One celebrates this year the 20th anniversary of its creation. A personnal as well as professional tribute, Les Chroniques de Player One are the opportunity to come back on the evolution of the video game and Manga industry.
Published by Pika Edition
Meet Alain KAHN and Olivier RICHARD (Inoshiro), the authors of the book,
as well as Pierre Valls (Pedro), Cyril Drevet (Crevette) and Patrick Giordano (Matt le Fou)
in conference on Sunday, July 4th, at Japan Expo 11th Impact
on the Video Game Stage (Hall 6) at 2.00 p.m.
Twenty years ago, Player One was born, the first magazine in Europe dedicated to video game consoles.
The success of the 8 bit consoles in the late 80s, the announce of the release of the Mega Drive by Sega and of the Game Boy by Nintendo made the team decide to launch Player One in septembre 1990. From the first issue, it considered video games within a panoramic vision of entertainment where movies, comics, TV series, Manga and of course games bustle around.
It's successful at once. Gamers feel comfortable with the style, the tests and the spirit of the magazine. Twenty years later, video game has become more important than the cinema and music industries together.
Les Chroniques de Player One (Player One Chronicles) plays the story of these fascinating years and its actors.
Born in 1965, he took part in the magazines Rock & Folk, USA Comics, SVM Mac, L’Affiche and Player One in which he wrote the netertainment pages (Manga, cinema, comics) during the whole life of the magazine. He also collaborated to Télévisator 2 on France 2 (a French channel) and has been the manager of the channel MCM for twelve years. He also directed the programs of the radios Europe 2 TV and then Virgin 17. He spends his leisure time reading ancient alchemy books, searching for some means of reviving the Ramones, his favorite band.
Born in 1948, he discovered Japan in 1967 and falls in love with it at once. Then he started importing computer hardware and distributing the first cheap computers made by Amstrad. In 1987, he created Média Système Edition (MSE) which will publish the magazines Amstrad CPC, Player One, Nintendo Player, Manga Player, etc. He founded Pika Edition, in 2000, which soon became one of the three Manga leaders in France. His dream is to marry the girls from the studio CLAMP.
How did you start in publishing?
AK: I was working in the computer industry, and with Amstrad. Marion Vanier asked me to publish their magazines for their PC and CPC.
OR: I started at 14 by publishing with a friend, Bruno Terrier, a fanzine dedicated to fantastic cinema: Dans l'abîme du fanzine (In the abyss of the fanzine). After that, I wrote for several magazines such as USA Comics, SVM Mac, Rock & Folk and then in MSE's magazines from septembre 1990.
In the 80s, what was the industry of video game and Japanese leisure like?
AK: Non-existing. It is the success of the Amstrad CPC which allowed the development of the video game industry with the arrival of Ubisoft and Infogrames, for example. When the Nintendo and Sega consoles arrived, they boosted the market at the turn of the decade. As for Japanese entertainment, it started later.
OR: We only knew arcade game terminals. Game rooms were very fashionable at the time, the games were a crazy alternative to flippers and traditional table soccer. In every seaside resort, kids and teenagers gathered together to play, which was not always possible during school periods, as it was the case in Paris, where game places were forbidden to under 18.
Was launching magazines such as Amstrad CPC or Player One risky at the time?
AK: Most certainly, but I was young and foolhardy.
OR: Since then, Alain has grown old but he is getting more and more foolhardy, otherwise he would not have published this book!
In the pages of Player One, there was cinema, music, comics, the magazine was a regular partner of movie releases, politicians were interviewed, there was video game music special edition, you were fighting against the prejudices of associations such as Familles de France...
AK: We have always thought that our readers were not only "video game addicts" and were also interested in other entertainments and other subjects. Olivier Richard was the great architects of these pages. Prejudices always have to be fought against when it comes to changes and novelties.
OR: We are in an era of ultra-segmentation (cf. the Web). I'm not surprised that some magazines chose to focus on game "only". As for debates, they still exist (cf. GTA) and I think that magazines have to take a stand. It's a shame if they don't do it, they are magazines, not advertising catalogues.
In the same way, there are several TV and radio adventures along with Player One: MCM, Antenne 2, Sud Radio...
AK: At the time, video game was considered as entertainment for reatrded young people. Fortunately, some TV channels got interested in it and, as they didn't have a clue about it, they asked us to collaborate, which we did.
OR: Most channels considered video games as stupid, yet fun, toys, or retarded hobbies. Yet a few TV channel managers understood what was going on and got closer to the Drevet, related to MSE (which published Player One).
How did you feel when new video game magazines started in the early 2000s?
AK: We couldn't resist the agressive manners of our competitors (poaching our collaborators, dumping on ads fees, etc.). That's business law.
OR: We understood it was the beginning of a new era, more industrial and less fun.
The Player adventure is also Manga Player. In 1994, we could already find in the pages of Player One pre-published Manga such as Ranma 1/2...
AK: Video games and Manga are in the same cultural melting pot. To have more details, I can only advise you (it's a bit self-interested, I admit) to read Les chroniques de Player One!
OR: Pierre Valls, Pika's current chief editor, fought for MSE, where he was chief editor at the time, to start translating Manga.
With hindsight, Player One has become a cult object for a whole generation...
AK: Honestly, I can't explain it. The end of Player One was hard for me and I'm delighted to see it alive again.
OR: Because the magazine was mostly written by passionate people ; because we tackled new territories and the magazine has a soul.
With your experience at MSE, how do you see the current market of game media?
AK: If we talk about print media, it's kind of disappearing. There is probably a future for numerical media, if there is an economical model which allows journalists to be paid!
OR: I'm under the impression that print media did not did not call itself into question enough towards the arrival of the web.
An allusion for fans: « Dragon Kahn », you were the improbale supervillain of the hymn to Player One!
AK: A "boss" can (or has to) be mean or at least scary, once in a while. But there are also nice dragons.
OR: The truth about this cannot or must not be revealed...
Thanks to Alain Kahn and Olivier Richard to have answered our questions, and thanks to Laure Peduzzi.
Interview made by R.D.
- Player One Conference Sunday 04 July, 14h00-15h30, Video Game Stage