Growing up I remember when gaming grew tremendously and publications were sprouting up everywhere. Nintendo Power was big and GamePro as well, but the one that stood the test of time was Game Informer. It was small at first, but once it graduated from its 6-pages to a full monthly magazine it quickly gained a following. Old Funcoland stores, the originators of the magazine, got bought up by Gamestop and now the gaming giant rules the used and new game market with an iron grip that will doubtfully ever fail. Most GI subscriptions come through their stores and almost everyone who plays games has heard of the magazine. Game Informer is the definitive gaming news publication. But on the internet, that’s a different story.
Ask anyone and they’ll likely tell you their favorite sites without a single mention of GI. You’ll hear Kotaku, Polygon, and probably IGN as their top news outlets. That’s because GI has always remained formal in a sense that drove the budding generations of casual gamers away from it when they wanted to see people more like them. They wanted to hear crass jokes and watch goofy videos about the people who play games. It’s why Let’s Plays on Youtube are a thing. They wanted to see themselves in other people. Meanwhile, GI wanted to provide you with in-depth knowledge of the business and detailed reviews about the medium. They wanted you to understand and dig deeper into your interests in a way that seemed academic compared to some of the other more casual outlets. And there was nothing wrong with that for the magazine. Hell, it sells 6.7 million copies a month, so it’s definitely doing something right. So why is it that their online comments on articles are so few? Why is it that their likes and shares aren’t as strong as that silly-ass IGN video you watched the other day? It’s because the internet has become a place for everyday people to seek surface level knowledge about the things that interest them in a casual way, and GI refuses to just give you surface knowledge when you deserve to have so much more.
That’s why it’s amazing that they are now doing personal columns.
Just the other day GI announced and released two of their new columns that will be released weekly. Topics like Science Fiction and how games intersect with our real lives. Sports and humor and all about games and people. And these aren’t just puff pieces or deep looks into the universe, but instead are personal accounts and musings on the topics that resonate most with people. You may have gotten some personal tidbits here and there in the past about some of the writers on staff, but not like this, I promise. Newbie Associate Editor and a close college buddy of mine, Javy Gwaltney, started his first column “The Virtual Life” with a talk about death in real life and death in games. It was poignant and it read like a conversation he and I would have and not like some click-baiting headline or an essay on death. Andrew Reiner’s first Science Fiction post outlines his life in the form of his influences in Science Fiction. The rest is just talking about the upcoming Science Fiction bits in pop-culture that he’s excited about. It’s refreshing and it comes on the heels of a very personal piece he did recently about video game violence and explaining it to his child—something I was happily shocked by. He opens up and he’s talking to you, the casual human, like a casual human, because they seem to finally get it. GI has spent so many years doing the best damn job at gaming journalism and setting the bar so very high for the rest of the world’s outlets, but it never seemed to develop the online following and the community that the others did. Now, I think that’s about to change.
Gaming is a complicated thing. It can be isolated or it can be social. It can be full of long-form, riveting storytelling or it can just be a casual challenge every now and again. But most importantly it’s something we have in common. We enjoy these windows of escapism and we cherish the time we get to devote to it, because it frees us and opens us up to ideas and worlds we couldn’t quite experience in our own imaginations. And though we can consider games an art, with deep and fascinating layers worthy of criticism, we need to remember that art is at its best when it’s simply enjoyed by people, who then share it with other people.
Game Informer is finally doing what I had hoped all of game journalism would eventually embrace—keeping the heavy critiques where they need to be, but talking more about real life. Because we live in real life and these games, though just fantasy, are made from bits and pieces of our real lives. We relate to them and they resonate with us through either personal connections to a specific thing in the games themselves or just reminders of what used to be when we played them in the past. Games are life and we want to enjoy it, not spend all our time analyzing its every blemish.
So go over to Game Informer and check out their new columns. It’s the beginning stages of something they’ve been trying to roll out for a while now and I can sense how excited they all are. They felt it too, and it’s just really nice to know that the future will be a little more personable without removing any of the quality pieces that they put out. Reward their efforts and make sure you comment and share if you like it.
Javy’s: The Virtual Life
Reiner’s: Science Fiction Weekly
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