Game Front 1-on-1: ‘Five out of Ten’ Editor Alan Williamson

Williamson grew up reading print magazines. It’s no surprise that he literally owns hundreds of magazines in his collection. Though he admits that he knows print is going the way of the dodo, he believes that the sense of physical ownership one gets out of reading a print magazine matters.

“I like owning things outright: I’d love people to build up a collection of Five out of Ten issues that are theirs to keep forever. Print them out, stick them on a bookshelf, send me a picture of the collection!”

“Magazines don’t run out of batteries; you can pick one up anywhere in the world; you can share, swap and dispose of them. Convenience matters. Plus, they’re more enjoyable to read than a PDF. Print magazines still offer some of the best games writing in the world — people may not realize, because a lot is syndicated on the web.”

Williamson has high expectations for his magazine, two issues of which have been published thus far. He says that he’s in it for the respect, not for the wealth—not that anyone gets into journalism for the money.

“We’re aiming for quality with Five out of Ten - you can’t buy a reputation,” he says. “We want to be the best games magazine, not just the best ‘indie’ magazine. That might be naive, but we’re getting stronger with every issue and I honestly think the quality of our writing is already top-notch.

“We wanted to make a statement that quality writing is worth paying for. As a writer, I want as many readers as possible, so we have a tiered payment system where people pay what they can afford. It’s an honours system, but our readers are really generous. We also released a Triple Pack of our first issues for a special price.

“Our contributors are mainly freelance writers who have the time and energy to devote to their work, unlike a weekend hobbyist such as myself. To pay writers a fair wage, you either need a lot of funding and a very popular site, or a new business model. I have been fortunate to have writers who will work without the usual promised salary — thanks to all of them for having faith in me! — but we’re already paying better royalties than most games sites, and that’s only going to improve as sales increase. Yet it’s a business, not a charity, and I’d rather sell tangible products than run a donation drive.”

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