Of Bare Chested Men and Violence: Barbarians and War in 1980s games and press coverage

by Aurelia Brandenburg and Adrian Demleitner

This text traces a joint inquiry into a loose link between bare chested men as protagonists and the depiction of violence in 1980s video games. For this analysis, we collaborated from our respective perspectives from historical and design research. Aurelia Brandenburg has a background in history, digital humanities and gender studies and Adrian Demleitner in software studies and design research. Our focus was on the reception as well as visual semantics of video games that used barbarian- or soldier-themed characters.

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Print runs of German Gaming Magazines 1980-2000

Upper part of a scan of the cover of issue 07/90 of Aktueller Software Markt (ASM).

by Aurelia Brandenburg

Gaming magazines are certainly an important part of the emergence of gaming culture(s) since the 1980s. There is, however, a difference between the importance ascribed by expert or fan circles and the actual distribution and, thus, the potential impact of a magazine. “Retro culture” tends to have a nostalgic bias. This means that it is useful to re-examine the basis on which significance is attributed to certain magazines. For this, I created a dataset consisting of sales and distribution data of nearly twenty German gaming magazines between 1980 and 2000. The dataset in full is available online through Zenodo (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10009428) and a Google Sheet, and this blog post serves as an accompanying documentation of its sources and my own reasoning behind the magazines included and the table structure, same as some rough findings and visualizations based on the data collected.

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