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GameCentral was founded on 10 March 2003 to replace Digitiser as the video game section of Channel 4's analogue Teletext service. Its contents page was originally found on page 690 of Channel 4 analogue Teletext, and on page 805 of digital Teletext (on both ITV and Channel 4). From May 2007, the service was also carried on the Teletext website. It was announced on July 17, 2009 that GameCentral would cease broadcast in December 2009, along with all other Teletext editorial content. However, on October 13, 2009 it was announced that GameCentral would continue as a website and mobile service. Following the announcement that Teletext would be closing, an online petition was launched to encourage GameCentral to continue. GameCentral was subsequently relocated to the website of the Metro newspaper, also owned by Daily Mail and General Trust.
GameCentral is edited by its third editor, David Jenkins, with contributions from Roger Hargreaves and Jimmy Nsubuga. It was first edited by former Edge magazine editor Tony Mott (now editor-in-chief of that publication) whose team comprised Anthony Burgess and "Chop". Steven Bailey became the second editor after Tony Mott left, with continuing contributions from Anthony Burgess. Jenkins has also made appearances on the XLeague.tv show, Games Night, and occasionally writes freelance for Eurogamer.
Contents (formerly pages 690/805)
The content of GameCentral varies from day to day. Originally, the contents page listed the page numbers and headlines of the content featured on that day. Online, the page features links to news articles, with the first paragraph provided as a summary. Other articles are available from a menu along the side of the page. During E3, every page of GameCentral is used to cover the event, except for the Inbox, which retains its normal use (though discussion generally revolves around E3). Since the move to the Metro newspaper the page has the main review or reader/editorial comment (on Wednesday's and the weekend) located at the top of the page, a second area beneath for the second daily review, and dedicated area for games related news and the twice daily inbox where readers write in with their views.
News (formerly pages 691/806)
During the week, this page features the latest news from the video game industry. It was typically four pages long although this now varies on the Metro website. Originally the news was rounded up over the weekend, but due to the new website layout at the Metro this remains static with an archive of all games related news available.
Second page (formerly pages 692/807)
This page is usually a seven page review (Gametest) or preview (Gamewatch) of a video game. Scores are given out of ten (with only seven games ever gaining the full score - the most recent example being Super Mario Galaxy 2), or, for Virtual Console/Xbox Live Arcade games, a 'retro score' is given out of five. Specialist reviews for specific genre games (e.g. sports games, massively multiplayer online games) are provided by a guest contributor, such as 'Mr. Pinkerton'. At weekends, this page features the '4-Players' article, a 400-word article written by a reader. They always vary in content, with titles such as 'Why graphics are more important than gameplay in games' and 'Overlooked 2D Shooters'.
Nigel Humdrum is a fictitious satirical character who represents the video game buying demographic that purchases due to association, rather than content. This character came about at a time when a high proportion of games were released with very poor content, yet still managed to sell well due to the brand. In addition, videogame representation in the mainstream press and TV, at that time, catered towards this demographic (often, incorrectly, referred to as the casual gamer) with equally vapid reviews and nonsensical conclusions. In this vein, Humdrum is often seen to unquestioningly laud a game with high praise simply because of a game's movie tie-in, or celebrity endorsement. Such praise is often very sarcastic in nature: "The way I can use just one button to beat everything in the entire game is cool! I mean, who wants to memorise all those buttons, there must be at least four of them!?". Nigel Humdrum only reviews the blandest of videogames.
Third page (formerly pages 693/808)
This page is usually a review page on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, it is home to the 'In the Middle' feature, an editorial piece written by either David Jenkins or Roger Hargreaves, more often than not pertaining to an issue raised in a review on the previous page, and very often written by the opposite person to who wrote the review. On Thursdays, a list of release dates for forthcoming games is published, with a sentence or two of comment for games released on the next day.
On weekends, the game charts are featured here, these are: the individual-formats UK chart, the Japanese chart, the US console chart, the GameCentral Top 20 (a list of the editorial staff's favourite games of that year) and the Readers' Top 20 (a similar list that is voted for by readers once a month, as votes are reset every month to make it fairer for games released at the end of the year; voting for the final result occurs during January of the next year).
Inbox (formerly pages 694/809)
This page contains e-mails and text messages sent in by readers. The messages sent in are usually on any subject related to video games, although some 'off topic' correspondence does appear from time to time, such as part of a trend for at least one person at weekends to mention the Sega game Shenmue (usually asking for a third game in the series), which has even led to letters of complaint when Shenmue fans were unable to mention it due to its subject. Other off-topic trends include discussion about ninjas, Transformers, the Umbrella Corporation, the smell of instruction manuals and ladders (for example, the GameCentral team stated that it prefers wooden ladders to aluminium ladders.) The discussion on ladders came about after a viewer wrote in to say how a ladder in the game Skies of Arcadia (on 'Crescent Isle') was one of the longest they had come across in a game. The Umbrella Corporation jokes often take the form of announcements to employees, playing on elements of Resident Evil gameplay, such as reminding employees not to leave glowing objects around the workplace. This trend of writing in as a games character has also included apparent letters from Mario and Luigi looking for work and Organisation XIII from Kingdom Hearts 2 looking for recruits.
During the week, the GameCentral staff set the readers a topic and replies to that are featured at weekends; this is known as the 'Hot Topic'. For example, topics have included the price of the PlayStation 3, viewer's favourite video game characters, and people's favourite game to play at parties.
Recently, the Inbox has been jokingly said to have somewhat mystical powers after a number of game sequels requested by viewers led to announcements that these sequels were indeed in development mere days after the request, e.g. Deus Ex 3. This came to be known as "Inbox Magic".
Letters often start with the acronym "LTRFTW", which stands for Long Time Reader, First Time Writer. The inclusion of this acronym is not mandatory for those to which it applies, but it became popular when, after its first use, many readers wrote in to ask what it meant. This in turn gave the acronym a large amount of publicity, resulting in its now regular appearance in the Inbox pages. More often than not, people now add a 'V' in front of the LTRFTW acronym to represent 'Very'. It has now reached a point where many are used, provoking GameCentral to state that each 'V' represents 5 years of readership.
The page used to be twelve pages long and updated daily, but has now switched to being seven pages long and updated twice on weekdays at 6.25am and 5pm, and once a day on weekends. The letters are sometimes edited for length, though this is rarely stated formally.
Changes since move to the Metro
During its move to the Metro, GameCentral asked its readers what improvements to the website they would like. As a result there are archives covering game reviews, letters to the inbox and a news archive.
GameCentral had historically focused on traditional consoles, but has started to diversify to games available on smartphones, in particular the iPhone. This is in acknowledgement of its increasing status as a viable gaming platform although GC's writers and readers are regularly at pains to point out its limitations as a result of the touchscreen controls. When reviewing an iPhone game GC routinely takes note of whether the game has been sufficiently adapted to allow useful control of the game using the touchscreen controls
Game of the Year
GameCentral publishes an annual top 20 list of best games each year.
|Year||Editor's pick||Viewer's pick|
|2012||XCOM: Enemy Unknown||Far Cry 3|
|2011||The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword||Dark Souls|
|2010||Super Mario Galaxy 2||Red Dead Redemption|
|2009||Street Fighter IV||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2|
|2008||Fallout 3||Fallout 3|
|2007||Super Mario Galaxy||Super Mario Galaxy|
- GameCentral's new home at Metro
- Xbox 360 blog for readers of GameCentral
- Xbox 360 leaderboard for readers of GameCentral