A Love Letter to Gaming Magazines
It may seem counter intuitive for you to be reading this on a computer, given the topic about to be addressed, but whether it be here or in physical form, I need to discuss why gaming magazines are and always will be special.
My first gaming magazine was a copy of the now deceased PlayStation World, perhaps better known as PSW. I remember it had a horrifying zombie on the front cover from a new Resident Evil game on PlayStation 2. I can remember that cover as clear as day, as the graphics of said zombie looked so incredible that I had nightmares about it (I was only about 10 years old to be fair). I bought the magazine in anticipation of getting a PlayStation 2 that Christmas and it was a great way of hyping me up to fever pitch. One of my favourite gaming memories was being sat up at 3am on Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep, reading that magazine cover to cover, looking at the delights I was just hours away from.
Fast forward to the present and I am still an avid reader of gaming magazines. For many years, I was a subscriber to PSM3, which was transitioned to the Official PlayStation Magazine when PSM3 was put in the library in the sky. Late last year this subscription was swapped to PC Gamer after I acquired my gaming PC. The anticipation of a new issue landing through my letterbox is up there with a new game being delivered, it certainly beats any bills dropping through.
As you’ll have noticed by reading this article so far, I have mentioned two gaming magazines that no longer exist. PSW and PSM3 are just two of many more gaming magazines that have been made defunct. This is due to the rise of gaming websites providing 24-hour news, previews and reviews that magazines simply cannot keep up with and free of charge. Despite this, there are a few magazines that have stood the test of time and continue to have a strong and dedicated readership. Some of the most notable video game magazines still on the market include Gamesmaster, the Official PlayStation & Xbox magazines, PC Gamer, Retro Gamer and Edge. It could be argued that each of these publications continue to be in production due to them serving different markets. Gamesmaster covers every console and is easy to read for all ages, the Official magazines and PC gamer are format specific, Retro Gamer is exactly what it says on the tin and Edge has a very distinct writing style and depth to all its articles.
You could argue that websites exist which also cater for these markets and it’s true, there is. But I believe that what makes magazines special, that often isn’t replicated through websites, is the rapport you get between the members of the editorial team alongside the connection between them and the readers. You often find little in-jokes that readers would only understand if they are familiar with the writing staff and their past articles in the mag. Readers also begin to align themselves with the tastes of certain members of the writing crew, leading to them having a better understanding of whether they will enjoy a game or not. Bear in mind that the core teams which write these magazines are often quite small, whereas the writing teams for websites can be larger, leading to a lot more different viewpoints being delivered across different games.
There is also the pleasure (maybe it’s just me though) of having something physical to read, it feels a lot better in my opinion to turn a page rather than click on a link and the fact that the magazine is a physical object immediately gives in an intrinsic value. These days most magazines have electronic versions for viewing on phones, tablets and computers. This allows the words to be accompanied by trailers and gameplay videos, this is a great inclusion as it harks back to the days of getting a DVD featuring all the latest trailers free with the magazine. A childhood spent with a dial up internet connection meant that those DVD’s were a godsend.
There are further advantages of a magazine over websites. Magazines allow the art team to be creative with how articles are presented. Magazines are often given art and screenshots from various games they are covering which the art team use to great effect. There have been many examples of articles where the artistry at work has been just as good as the words. The front covers are often a delight for the eyes too, especially the subscriber exclusive covers that have recently become a thing.
Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t see a return to the days of there being a plethora of different gaming magazines being available on store shelves, but I sincerely hope that those video game magazines which still exist can continue to thrive and take advantage of their medium which differentiate them from similar coverage available on the internet. If they can, I am confident that I will continue to be a subscriber for many years to come.