3. Playing the game
Reviews play an important part in a magazine like ZZAP! and the integrity of the reviewing
team is paramount. Before reviews can be compiled, the games must be played through. A room is set aside
specially for this purpose with several mach i nes, cassette decks and disk drives permanently at the ready. The
team Gary Penn. Julian Rignall, Gary Liddon, Sean Masterson and Paul Sumner each take their turn to see the selection
of games up for review. Sometimes, and if required, playing sessions go on until the early hours of the morning.
Gradually, a picture is is built up in each reviewer’s mind as to the merits of each game, but before the writing
can begin, some argument must take place over the ratings, since The finished figures are an amalgam of their opinions
in an attempt to provide the best balance.
4. Writing the Reviews
During the games playing phase, it is mutually worked out who will actually be responsible for writing
the introduction section to each review effectively being the review’s author. Gary Penn and Roger Kean tend to
be the ones who take the separate elements - intro, three comments and ratings and compile them into the finished
ZZAP! is all electronic. The main writing is done on Apricot xi computers using Superwriter as
a word processing package, but as there aren't enough Apricots for everybody, we also use portable, battery or
mains operated NEC keyboards. These take up to 12K of written information, and the contents can be dumped to the
hard disk in an Apricot within a few seconds.
Generally, the reviews are the first to get written, but at the same time special articles are also being done
by whoever has been assigned the task. This sometimes means interviews over the phone, sometimes a trip out complete
with micro cassette recorder and camera, and sometimes it means members of a software house visiting our premises.