New Statesman bloggers nominated for Games Media Awards

Helen Lewis and Phil Hartup shortlisted.

New Statesman videogame writers Helen Lewis and Phil Hartup have been nominated in the Games Media Awards.

Lewis is shortlisted for mainstream magazine writer of the year, and Hartup in the blogs category for Killing Time, where he has written about being embedded in Eve Online, the secret of scary games, and asked: what if you feel sorry for the people you're shooting?

New Statesman contributors Simon Parkin and Cara Ellison have also been nominated. You can read Parkin's essay on game violence and Ellison's satirical "There's No Sexism in Gaming" on the New Statesman site by following the links.

Lewis said: "People thought it was weird when they first started noticing articles about videogames in the New Statesman. But we treat television, film and theatre as serious cultural subjects, so why not games? It's been a pleasure to publish so many talented writers over the last year, in a range of styles. The best videogame writing is up there with anything else other genres produce. Phil's blog has been a huge success for us and his articles are regularly among our most-read. It shows there's an appetite for funny, incisive, intelligent commentary on games, even if the games themselves are sometimes quite silly."

The winners will be announced on 10 October. Here are the nominations in full:



Michael Gapper, Edge

Rich McCormick, PC Gamer

Gillen McAlllister, Gamereactor

Matthew Castle, ONM

Jason Killingsworth, Edge

Joel Gregory, OPM



Christian Donlan, Eurogamer

Jon Blyth, OXM

Keza MacDonald, IGN

Simon Parkin, Eurogamer

Andy Kelly, CVG

Steve Hogarty, PCGamesN

Rob Crossley, CVG

Oli Welsh, Eurogamer



Matt Kamen, The Observer

Keith Stuart, The Guardian

David Jenkins, Metro

Lee Price, The Sun

Dan Silver, Sunday Mirror

Talal Musa, Daily Mail



PC Gamer



Xbox 360: The Official Xbox Magazine


Retro Gamer



Rory Buckeridge, Nuts

Julia Hardy, Front

Matt Hill, T3

Daniel Nye Griffiths, Wired

Simon Ward, Zoo

Helen Lewis, New Statesman

Jonathan Pile, Shortlist






Rock Paper Shotgun







Midnight Resistance

Killing Time

Ready Up

Average Gamer

The Game Jar



OXM Breakdown

Videogamer TV

The Blurb

Feedbackula, Gamespot

PlayStation Access





Adam Rosser, Radio Five Live

Guy Cocker’s Podcast

This is my Joystick

IGN UK Podcast

Gamespot UK Podcast





Digital Spy

BT Games


Sabotage Times

Huffington Post



Daniel Krupa, IGN

Bex May, AskMen

Sam White, Future

Vaughn Highfield, Pocket Gamer

Ben Griffin, CVG

Cara Ellison, Freelance



Steve Hogarty @misterbrilliant

Andrew Kelly @ultrabrilliant

Gav Murphy @cymrogav

Glans Gruber @gamewank_jim

Rob Crossley @Rob_Crossley_

Sean Bell @CaptainToss

Lee Bradley @Lee_Bradley

Martin Gaston @squidmani


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It’s been 25 years since the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive were released – what’s changed?

Gaming may be a lonelier pusuit now, but there have been positive changes you can console yourselves with too.

Let's not act as if neither of us knows anything about gaming, regardless of how old we are. Surely you'll remember the Super Nintendo console (SNES) and Sega's Mega Drive (or Genesis, if you're an American)? Well, it's now been 25 years since they were released. OK, fine, it's been 25 years since the SNES' debut in Japan, whereas the Mega Drive was released 25 years ago only in Europe, having arrived in Asia and North America a bit earlier, but you get the idea.

Sonic the Hedgehog by Sega

It's amazing to think a quarter of a century has passed since these digital delights were unveiled for purchase, and both corporate heavyweights were ready for battle. Sega jumped into the new era by bundling Sonic, their prized blue mascot and Nintendo retaliated by including a Mario title with their console.

Today's equivalent console battle involves (primarily) Sony and Microsoft, trying to entice customers with similar titles and features unique to either the PlayStation 4 (PS4) or Xbox One. However, Nintendo was trying to focus on younger gamers, or rather family-friendly audiences (and still does) thanks to the endless worlds provided by Super Mario World, while Sega marketed its device to older audiences with popular action titles such as Shinobi and Altered Beast.

Donkey Kong Country by Rare

But there was one thing the Mega Drive had going for it that made it my favourite console ever: speed. The original Sonic the Hedgehog was blazingly fast compared to anything I had ever seen before, and the sunny background music helped calm any nerves and the urge to speed through the game without care. The alternative offered by the SNES included better visuals. Just look at the 3D characters and scenery in Donkey Kong Country. No wonder it ended up becoming the second best-selling game for the console.

Street Fighter II by Capcom

The contest between Sega and Nintendo was rough, but Nintendo ultimately came out ahead thanks to significant titles released later, demonstrated no better than Capcom's classic fighting game Street Fighter II. Here was a game flooding arcade floors across the world, allowing friends to play together against each other.

The frantic sights and sounds of the 16-bit era of gaming completely changed many people's lives, including my own, and the industry as a whole. My siblings and I still fondly remember our parents buying different consoles (thankfully we were saved from owning a Dreamcast or Saturn). Whether it was the built-in version of Sonic on the Master System or the pain-in-the-ass difficult Black Belt, My Hero or Asterix titles, our eyes were glued to the screen more than the way Live & Kicking was able to manage every Saturday morning.

The Sims 4 by Maxis

Today's console games are hyper-realistic, either in serious ways such as the over-the-top fatalities in modern Mortal Kombat games or through comedy in having to monitor character urine levels in The Sims 4. This forgotten generation of 90s gaming provided enough visual cues to help players comprehend what was happening to allow a new world to be created in our minds, like a good graphic novel.

I'm not at all saying gaming has become better or worse, but it is different. While advantages have been gained over the years, such as the time I was asked if I was gay by a child during a Halo 3 battle online, there are very few chances to bond with someone over what's glaring from the same TV screen other than during "Netflix and chill".

Wipeout Pure by Sony

This is where the classics of previous eras win for emotional value over today's blockbuster games. Working with my brother to complete Streets of Rage, Two Crude Dudes or even the first Halo was a draining, adventurous journey, with all the ups and downs of a Hollywood epic. I was just as enthralled watching him navigate away from the baddies, pushing Mario to higher and higher platforms in Super Mario Land on the SNES just before breaking the fast.

It's no surprise YouTube's Let's Play culture is so popular. Solo experiences such as Ico and Wipeout Pure can be mind-bending journeys too, into environments that films could not even remotely compete with.

But here’s the thing: it was a big social occasion playing with friends in the same room. Now, even the latest Halo game assumes you no longer want physical contact with your chums, restricting you to playing the game with them without being in their company.

Halo: Combat Evolved by Bungie

This is odd, given I only ever played the original title, like many other, as part of an effective duo. Somehow these sorts of games have become simultaneously lonely and social. Unless one of you decides to carry out the logistical nightmare of hooking up a second TV and console next to the one already in your living room.

This is why handhelds such as the Gameboy and PSP were so popular, forcing you to move your backside to strengthen your friendship. That was the whole point of the end-of-year "games days" in primary school, after all.

Mario Kart 8 by Nintendo

The industry can learn one or two things by seeing what made certain titles successful. It's why the Wii U – despite its poor sales performance compared with the PS4 – is an excellent party console, allowing you to blame a friend for your pitfalls in the latest Donkey Kong game. Or you can taunt them no end in Mario Kart 8, the console's best-selling game, which is ironic given its crucial local multiplayer feature, making you suspect there would be fewer physical copies in the wild.

In the same way social media makes it seem like you have loads of friends until you try to recall the last time you saw them, gaming has undergone tremendous change through the advent of the internet. But the best games are always the ones you remember playing with someone by your side.