It seems that for a lot of gamers who are around my age (and older) one of the most common formatives experiences of their youths was the reading of gaming magazines. When I watch or listen to gaming shows and podcasts I frequently hear people talking about how they always looked forward to receiving the next edition of magazines like Nintendo Power, EGM, and PC Gamer and would devour each and every page of them. Back before the days of widespread Internet usage these gaming magazines were the best things to read if you wanted to stay current with the gaming industry and would also sometimes come with nice perks like demo discs. I never had a subscription to any gaming magazines growing up—though in 2010 I did receive a single edition of Best Buy’s short-lived @Gamer magazine in the mail—so I’ve never had a connection to this part of gaming culture, but about two months ago a friend of mine let me have his copy of the July 2018 edition of GameInformer. For a week or two it just sat in my room collecting dust, but eventually I got around to checking it out.
The cover of the July 2018 edition of GameInformer spotlights Anthem, the upcoming game from developer Bioware that’s due to be released next year. In addition to the great cover art, what struck me when I first picked up the magazine was the feel of the cover. While the inside pages of GameInformer are the same sort of paper you get with any other magazine, the cover is made of a thicker, high quality paper that feels really nice in your hands. The cover also seems to be resistant to getting visible fingerprints and smudges on it, which is big plus for people like me who prefer the pristine look for our reading material.
Of course, while the cover of a magazine might be what grabs your attention, what really matters is the content inside of it. I slowly flipped through the pages, reading articles that caught my eye and looking over images from the various games being covered. As you’d expect, GameInformer is a smorgasbord of articles on games and gaming culture, editorials and opinion pieces, bits of news from the gaming industry, game reviews, comments from readers and the magazine’s editors, and some advertisements. The magazine has a visually pleasing format and even if you don’t read every word and paragraph your eyes will be drawn to the high quality images of games found throughout it. Where this shines the most is around page 40 when you reach the section on the game featured on the magazine’s cover. This is where the real meat is—a longer-form dive into a single game with extensive quotations from the game’s developers and some fine imagery to boot. In the case of Anthem I already knew a fair amount about the game thanks to extensive coverage of it in June at this year’s E3, but I did learn a few new things from the GameInformer article and it was interesting to get more perspectives on Anthem from its developers. After the section on Anthem there was another 28 pages of features on various games, ranging from 1 to 4 pages each, and even though most of them were on games that I’m never going to play I think GameInformer’s did a good job of presenting and potentially stoking interest in them. At the end of the magazine was a bunch of game reviews and then a final article on text adventure games to wrap things up.
So, with all that said, am I going to get a subscription to GameInformer? No. As interesting as the magazine is, in today’s world it’s really hard to argue someone into paying for a magazine when you can get nearly the same content online for free. On top of this there’s also the fact that with a magazine you have to wait for each edition to be printed and shipped, while with the Internet you can get a continuous stream of new information and media on a daily basis. That said, I have to admit that GameInformer has my respect. For any gaming magazine to be able to remain in business in today’s market is an impressive feat. Since GameInformer first launched in 1991 we’ve seen dozens of other gaming magazines die off, so whoever is running GameInformer clearly has the business know-how to stay alive and competitive in a space where so many others have failed. I won’t be subscribing to GameInformer, but I commend them for staying relevant and I hope they are able to continue their work for years to come.