There are still a surprising number of video game magazines published. However, they need to evolve to stay relevant in the culture of 2021.
In 2021, there is little need to leave the internet to find quality gaming coverage. As the medium itself goes digital, its coverage follows the same path. Everything from news to reviews is instantly accessible via the web, making staying up-to-date with everything going on in the gaming industry easier and faster than ever. This change has greatly benefited the audience, but at the cost of the gaming magazine, which used to be the hallmark of the pre-internet era.
This is not surprising, as monthly physical magazines simply cannot compete with the speed of online coverage. However, many people still love game magazines and try to find a place for them in the modern landscape. Even so, even the most important magazines left as Game informer they still function as if the Internet did not exist. They run reader news, trailers, and reviews on a monthly basis.
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It is peculiar from the reader’s perspective. When a Nintendo Direct arrives or an E3 showcase comes up, the public wants that information to be presented and analyzed immediately. By the time that information appears in print a month later, its impact is lost. Often there is little new information to glean from these pages when it is several weeks old and released online. Over-reliance on maintaining the same pre-Internet magazine archetype serves nostalgia, but nothing else.
Like the decline of magazines, doubling down on nostalgia isn’t surprising; that’s the lens through which most gamers remember gaming magazines. Get a problem from Nintendo Power it was once a special experience for many players. In the age of cartridges, this was the only way to beat the more esoteric NES games. The magazines were valuable tomes of information that not only helped players to clarify The legend of ZeldaIt also helped them appreciate print. Even through the Wii and DS eras, there was a charm to opening a new Nintendo Power. However, in those last days, the magazine’s appeal was not as strong. Instead, the charm survived in the personal connection readers had with the magazine.
That personal connection has resulted in a print landscape that appeals to a niche group. There are some specialized fan magazines that serve this market well. Switch Player Magazine, for example, is a much loved ode to Nintendo Power and a reinvention of what made it special, modernized for the Nintendo Switch era. However, even large publications run into the same problem: their nostalgic novelty is their main business card. For gaming magazines to be of wider relevance again, they have to evolve.
If print can’t compete with digital, you shouldn’t be fighting a losing battle any longer. Instead, the medium should become something new. The best step forward would be to use print to help legitimize video games as an art form. While most within the community consider video games to be art, many outside the industry have yet to embrace it. Any step the game can take to mature will be beneficial to him in terms of recognition. One way is to produce video game magazines that function as academic journals.
Almost any area of study and interest has related journals. These are published infrequently and are not indebted to current news, but rather focus on intellectual discussion. These are the types of posts that are cited in scholarly articles and have real-world merit. If the gaming industry moves in this direction, it could gain a lot of ground. These are starting to appear, but they often refer to the industry from the outside rather than from the gaming world itself. Nor do they usually address the type of material that would be relevant to the community or relevant to the discussion.
A great example of this successful journaling approach is [lock-on], which currently in crowdfunding on Kickstarter. The first volume of [lock-on] is dedicated to extensive discussions on PlayStation. Since Metal Gear Solid toward The Last of Us Part II, the magazine examines the PlayStation lineage and features talented and industry-savvy personalities and writers. If you reach your funding goal, [lock-on] it has the potential to be a shining example of where the industry should move.
As games age, their content evolves. Games tell more mature stories with greater fidelity, but that artistic growth was naturally going to take shape. What is equally important, and what must move forward, is what surrounds games. From advancements in game preservation to meaningful prize giving, progress is being made. However, there are still many steps to follow. Establishing academic gaming magazines is one of those, and it’s also a way forward for gaming magazines.
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