Whether or not Incite was the first video game magazine to offer a swim suit issue is really beside the point!
If you like to play video games, but reading articles about them is too much work, Incite is the magazine for you. Dubbed "Gaming for Life", Incite was aimed at more of a "Gaming for My So Called Life".
How We Got Here:
Imagine, if you will, a board meeting with a bunch of stuffy old men and publishing types all talking about how they can make money talking about video games. They see the success of Electronic Gaming Monthly, they see how GamePro has attracted legions of subscribers, and they know that they need to be part of this. So they came up with Incite, a magazine that tries to marry Hollywood with video games, but ended up in a bitter divorce.
When Incite debuted in December 1999, its main competition wasn't Electronic Gaming Monthly and Next Generation, but rather Maxim and other male-centric magazines. Heavy on large pictures and short on meaningful articles is a simple way of summing up Incite, and probably the way that the suits in the big office building explained it.
Initially it was cheap, only a dollar, which made it difficult to complain about the stale subject matter and lack of depth. Issue two saw an increase to two dollars, still a good deal, and not a price you can really argue with. However, by issue four, Incite was a full four dollars, and the articles weren't
Bree Turner may know a thing or two about partying, but what does she know about rhythm games?
getting any better. It's said that the first year is the worst for any new magazine, and Incite was proof. It would take something bigger than a gimmick to keep this magazine afloat.
Although Incite hosted many celebrities, it was the wrestling super stars that were given the most attention. It would not be an overstatement to say that there was at least one wrestler in every issue of Incite's short life. Be it the Rock on the cover of issue one or Jericho on the cover of issue four, or even the slightly off topic "wrestler of the month" feature which found its way into the magazine around issue two, Incite had you covered if you were a gamer who also liked big sweaty men kicking the stuffing out of each other.
But it wasn't just professional wrestlers, oh no, Incite featured a whole collection of B and C list celebrities. Slightly familiar names such as Jamie Kennedy, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Bergman, Natalie Raitano, and E! News personality Jules Asner. Incite also featured sports figure Derek Jeter, not to mention bands like the Foo Fighters, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and Kirk Hammett of Metallica.
While the idea sounds good on paper, most celebrities don't really know that much about video games. Reading Incite was a little like watching heavy metal bands answer how they would end the violence in the Middle East. Most of the celebrities didn't really grasp how big the industry was, and a few were even a little insulting. Some personalities, such as Moby, went as far as to admit to not gaming, and really having no interest in it. At it's best, these interviews felt useless and condescending, like they were a calculated move by a group of suits sitting around a big table.
That "Jump the Shark" Moment:
When you're a young, struggling magazine it's easy for people to forgive some of the shortcomings. A customer probably won't expect a hard hitting expose in the first issue, just a well presented, interesting magazine that is educational as well as funny. By issue six, though, a start-up publication should have something new to offer, something that sets them apart from all the rest.
Incite never found its voice, but you have to admit they did die trying. By issue eight they had all but given up the game coverage, sporting feature
Ulalal, here in video game form, doesn't care if she is in danger, she just wants to dance, dance, dance!
length articles that were not so much about the games, but about people pretending to do the things in the games. There's a write up explaining the finer elements of Crazy Taxi, but somehow it misses all opportunities to actually talk about Crazy Taxi. In another part of the magazine a model dresses up like Ulala (from Space Channel 5) for a pictorial.
Waiting for that other Shoe to Fall:
The emphasis for Incite Video Gaming was non-game related issues, which always struck me as a little odd given that it's a game magazine. Most of the reviews were positive, even to games that probably shouldn't have received high marks. After thumbing through the first half of the magazine, one was left to wonder if the writers for the magazine had even played the games they talked about.
Much of the celebrity content seemed forced, even unnecessary at times. Does anybody really care what Bree Turner (from that god awful show Undressed) thinks about Bust-A-Groove? Or who would win amongst the band Filter at a game of Crash Team Racing? These features add almost nothing, and yet are the focal point of the magazine.
Even with a slick layout, and some pretty unique sidebars (inspiring some of the things we do around here), Incite is one of the worst magazines out there. It just didn't spend a lot of time dealing with video games, and when it does it's not very accurate. If it's aim was to be a magazine for the teenagers who only want to look at pictures, then I suppose it succeeded . but for the rest of us, this magazine is just another one of those youthful indiscretions you'd like to forget.
Memorable Quote: "I dated a guy once - actually it was before we were dating - we were hanging out, and I put in Crash Bandicoot, the third one. And I have to say that I've played it so much that I'm pretty good. I've advanced to a pretty major level in the game; I'm pretty proud of myself. So, saw this, and it just threw him. He was like, "do you play this every day?" "No ... every other day" -Bree Turner