Duncan MacDonald was one of the 'old-school' computer games
journalists in the UK
, having worked on a number of long-running games magazines including Your Sinclair
, Game Zone
and PC Zone
during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this period MacDonald was usually presented as the 'wacky' member of the editorial team, who penned reviews and articles filled with surreal humour and the slightly confused ramblings of a non-technical average bloke. His humour involved the frequent use of inverted commas slung around ironically used words, euphemisms or amusing neologisms, as well as the standard devices of Ed comments
and anachronistic exclamations (Cripes!, Lawks!, Crivens!, etc.).
Duncan's programming skills were unleashed on the world during his stint at Your Sinclair with his first (and only) game, Advanced Lawnmower Simulator, arguably the worst ZX Spectrum game ever made.
He wrote the semi-anonymous, semi-autobiographical and semi-completely made up Mr. Cursor column which featured on the back page of PC Zone magazine for several years. Originally designed to resonate with new PC owners intimidated by the user-unfriendly nature of the machines, it gradually mutated into a series of anecdotes with little if anything to do with PCs and games, and collectively is one of the best sustained pieces of games journalism ever published.
Duncan MacDonald seems to have disappeared from view for the last few years. He claimed in the last of the regular Mr. Cursor columns that he was moving to Pitcairn Island. Around the turn of the millennium he resurfaced briefly on the website www.seethru.co.uk, the online companion to the BBC TV show Attachments. (At the time World Productions, the production company behind the show, employed fellow ex-Dennis Publishing journalists Paul Lakin and David McCandless.)
MacDonald's contribution to this site was The South Coast Diaries, an episodic diary of his life as a benefit claimant ("dolescum") living in Hastings on the South coast of England, presented again in very much the same style as Mr. Cursor. There were rumblings a few years ago of these diaries being developed into a novel ("S.C.U.M. - South Coast Unemployed Male"), which has since disappeared from Amazon, and emails to the announced publisher have gone unanswered.
Here's hoping that life is treating Dunc well, and that we haven't seen the last of his 'unique prose stylings'.