Jaz Rignall Interview

CVG, ZZAP and Mean Machines man looks back

As you've probably heard us say before, CVG is the longest running games publication in the world. But back when most of the current team were just babies though, or reading the magazine before the days of the internet, a chap called Julian Rignall shot to fame with his mad gaming skillz. A few weeks ago you asked him some questions and he's taken time out of editing the Official Warcraft Magazine to answer them. Here we go:

First up, can you give us a quick rundown of your career highlights and tell us what you've been doing for the past decade?

Probably the biggest thing I've done in the US was launching When I arrived at Future in 1997 (then called Imagine Publishing), there was a staff of about 9 people creating a bunch of different web sites about the PlayStation, Dreamcast and whatnot.

We consolidated them all into a network called IGN and thanks to a rather creative affiliate program where we linked to about a billion fan sites, IGN became the 20th biggest site on the web and had about 100 editorial staff. We all thought we were going to be billionaires, but the dot-com bubble burst and the value of our paper money was not worth the paper it was written on.

Fortunately the site survived, and it's still going strong today. Since then I've worked with some big corporations on their web sites/marketing (great money, not-so-fun-work) such as Walmart and Dell, before rejoining Future a couple of years ago as Editorial Director to launch its new US Custom Publishing Division.

What drew you back to working on a games mag? Are you a massive WarCraft fan then?

I think that it's an exciting time to be back in magazines. People say print is dead, and it's true that many magazines are closing, but I think it's all a shakeout, not the print apocalypse.

The publications that are not evolving are the ones that are dying - the challenge is to figure out how to make magazines be interesting and relevant in today's market, and I think that there are a lot of interesting things we can do to that end.

When done right, magazines offer an experience that's very different to any other media, and it's that idea of helping evolve magazines and finding new ways of making them even richer and more interesting that got me back into print.

And yes, I am a huge, huge Warcraft fan. I spend a ridiculous amount of my time in the game, raiding several times a week and doing a lot of PVP. It's a truly magnificent game, and being able to make a magazine about it is really cool.

What was it like it write for a games mag 'back in the day' compared to today? And how did you make a magazine without the internet?

Information was mostly in people's heads and not on some centralized worldwide resource, so you had to spend a lot of time on the phone, cultivating relationships and digging for info.

It was a lot more personal in some sense, because if you didn't have relationships, you couldn't get the info, so you really had to work with people and not burn bridges. Writing today has a completely different set of challenges. Certain things are easier, certain things are harder.

It's still important to have relationships, but information is a lot more fluid and easy to get now - and exclusives are now exclusives for a matter of minutes, instead of weeks as they used to be.

What was CVG mag's best and worst cover in your opinion?

Actually, the worst cover was the one you never saw. Back in the olden days of 1989, a company called System 3 was about to release a shooter called Dominator, and we were going to feature it on the cover.

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