The Creators Project: How would you describe Amusement to a potential non-French reader?
Abdel Bounane: Amusement is the first lifestyle magazine about digital entertainment. We cover the ever-evolving world of gaming, new technologies, gadgets, TV shows, and what we usually refer to as “nerd culture.” We use the term “digital entertainment” and not simply “video games” because I think video games are only the most obvious part of the much larger realm of interactive entertainment, which can apply to every form of contemporary culture. The concept of “gaming” is way too associated with products we all know about already. It is also a little too childish to me. To me, the impact of videogames is the same as the impact of video on mass culture a century ago. Another way to look at it is that we use interactive culture as a sort of prism to see the contemporary world in the same way that women’s magazines use fashion.
Tell us your plans for Amusement and other projects you’re working on this year.
I’d like to launch an English version of it later this year. Apart from that, I’m looking to open a 250m x 250m digital concept store in the heart of Paris. It will be part of the concept-store de La Gaité (www.gaite-lyrique.net), a gigantic 8,000 square-meter space devoted to digital culture, which is going to open at the end of next year. The shop I’m going to manage will be a new idea in the digital world: There will be a mix of unknown, obscure gadgets, some clever products designed by nerds, a kind of a showroom about technology products, random digital services, exhibitions of digital artists, and an unthinkable game center.
Gamer culture is a big part of your magazine. Do you remember the first time you played a video game?
According to my mother, it was when I knocked on her belly while she was playing Pong. But I touched my first pad when I was eight. It was Rick Dangerous on Atari ST, a platform game starring an Indiana Jones-type character who screamed when he died. It’s rather hard to recall, but I know I was addicted to the game for hours because of the nice graphics it had for that time.
How did the media and advertisers outside of the interactive entertainment and video game bubble react to Amusement when it first launched?
If I would have launched Amusement five years ago, the magazine would have been dead after two or three issues, I guess. But, since then, the internet has changed everything. Both PlayStation 3 and Wii have caused entire families to become gamers, and the nerds have acquired creative and cultural power. So media and advertisers have finally begun to understand that it would be “cool” if they could be associated with this geek nation, as they did with all types of street culture in the late 90s.