In the early 90's when America Online was the main gateway to get to the barren world wide web there wasn't much of a choice where your information came from. Some of us used word of mouth. Mortal Kombat's blood code spread through classrooms with flu like swiftness. The scoop about the newest game was a big game of telephone. We were born with the Konami code imprinted in our DNA. I grew up with a video game magazine in my hand. My first magazine was a quick store purchase of July 1994's Game Players.
It came with individual glossy cards of Super Street Fighter II characters (something that would pass in a special collector's edition these days) It had the most glorious review of Super Street Fighter ever written, it was chock full of news I couldn't understand, an archive of game scores I never heard of, and previews of games I had no idea of how to get. It was a revelation to my 12 year old mind. I wanted more but since my feeble 12 year old brain could not fathom the concept of a subscription (maybe I thought my parents brought home my monthly comic books from some magical store that only allowed parents to enter) I just read the magazine over and over again until I was able to recite every word of every page on command with my eyes closed. Two things came of this though. First, I realized I was a pretty stupid kid. More importantly though, my mother saw me reading every day, and decided to just get me a 12 month subscription. This is where my obsession with video game magazines started. Every month waiting with bated breath for the next magazine wondering what would be on the cover this time, what game previews would break my brain. I learned about industry trends and got to know the personalities of the magazine. It's at this point in my life where gaming became more than a hobby, it was a lifestyle.
Since that point in my life almost 20 years ago I have amassed a collection of well over 500 magazines, from Game Players, Ultra Game Players, Game Buyer, Game Pro, Gamefan, Gamer's Republic, Next Generation, PSM, OPM, to Nintendo Power, EGM, Play, and Game Informer. Knowing the personalties of these editors was the best part. I remember when Chris Slate of UGP first saw and described Mario 64. I remember Gamefan's coverage of the Sega Dreamcast launch, I remember EGM's Sheng Long prank. These moment will be with me forever because to me gaming isn't just about picking up a controller, it's about the people, the events, and the industry as a whole.
I believe those memories stand out because they came to me in a format that made me commit to it. Game magazines are few and far between these days. The internet has taken over every aspect of our lives. The game industry was at the forefront of the coup. We want bite size chunks of data, we want to consume stories and share them as fast as possible. The monthly video game magazine cannot compete with the internet that lives 24 hours a day.
Some people have said "print is dead" but a few stalwarts such as John Davision of Gamepro and Steve Harris' EGM respectively have taken another approach to gaming rags. With an emphasis on deeper articles and less on time sensitive news they are playing to their strength for the page turning loyalist. Articles that go beyond the industry news like the spec sheet of the Nintendo 3DS and more about the history and origins of Gamestop, or the personality of David Cage. It may seem boring to a few, but not to me. I find it easier to commit 20 minutes to read a well written game article in a magazine then it is to read news 5 minutes straight on a game blog. Books and magazines are about a mutual commitment. We commit our attention and we will attain a richer experience because of it.
From this commitment we get personality. Simply put, when you have a month to write about your feeling on a subject it draws more from your life than if you had a week. And that's what I am in it for. The personality, the culture, the idea that I am part of this industry in one way or another. Game magazines do that for me. I use the Internet for everything including my gaming needs. It's the quickest avenue to consume information but nothing compares to laying in bed, or curled up on a couch on a lazy Sunday with my favorite magazine in hand and a nice long article to read.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Tickets are limited!