I love blogging online, and I love what the internet provides, but don’t we all need some down time? Print media lets you go from reading like this:
To reading like this:
Every month I purchase two gaming magazines costing me about £11 and a revel in a sneaky subscription dropping through my letterbox. All in all, I spend about £13 a month (thank God for subscription price cuts) on the most productive, informative, and deeply <deeply> satisfying reading experiences around. You might have gathered already, but I harbour a long-lasting lust for paper, ink, and pretty cover designs.
Blogs, online journals, and news sites can offer us a wealth of reading experiences. We literally have never come up against as much knowledge as we do now and it’s easy to access, intuitive, and fast. And yet there’s a growing resurgence in the physical magazine. I have been given free access to mind boggling amounts of information, accessible whenever I want and wherever I find myself to be. And yet, I still relish the opportunity to pay a fiver for the opportunity to read an infinitely tiny percentage of that curated knowledge. And there are several good reasons for this.
Never Fear The Unplug
This is the basic one. It’s fucking permanent yo! Websites literally come and go. You could be reading something beautifully tailored to your very interests, eloquently speaking to your soul through its linguistic construction, and decorated with the most HD, 4K, what-the-hell-is-a-pixel? screenshots and images, and then the writer can simply remove it at their own whim. Or, more likely, you lose it to the vast expanses of the inter web. This is obviously not a common one, but there’s something about having a stack of magazines from 2010 in the corner of a room that makes you feel secure in your reading materials should all else fail you.
I have such a stack of old NGamer and ONM magazines. NGamer was shit! But I still bought that shit every month and read the fuck out of it. I loved it – the tacky layout, obsession with primary colours, cheesy editor profiles at the start of the issue – I ate that shit up. And I still have each and every one of them in my room at home, just in case I want to read another review of Okamiden (apparently two reviews wasn’t enough).
Escape The Trending Page
Online content producers tend to stick with their Google Analytics subscription and write to the trending topics of that hour. We all do it, there’s no shame in producing content that people want to read in the here and now. But what about ten months down the line – or ten weeks – or ten minutes? That’s good quality content that might not be read much after launch day.
Equally, we want to stay on top of industry goings-on, but we all know we take in much less from a screen. This is true in both the sense of understanding the content and the breadth of content we actually consume. We are likely to exclusively read news on the games and developments we already know about, and therefore care about. But if you’ve paid £5.99 for a print and bound copy of your information, you’re going to get your money’s worth, and if you’re on a student budget you’re going to make every word count – after all, you sacrificed three days of food for this.
Magazines have to grab their audience, and make promises that appeal to a much wider readership if they’re going to sell enough copies to stay afloat. Invariably therefore, this leads to a much wider breadth of information in each issue. In non-platform specific publications like Edge and GamesMagazine, you’re going to be reading about industry developments, games, and hardware that you would never type into that Google search bar. Plus, physical publications can’t hope to keep up with these trends if they’re on sale monthly so they tend to be more analytical, personal, and universal in the content they produce. The diversity in topics, writing styles, and approaches to industry discussion is well worth your pocket money.
“You Better Think (Think) Think About What You’re Trying To Do To Me” – Aretha Franklin, 1968
Reading an online blog I can be thoroughly engaged and invested in a topic, and immediately forget what it is when something shiny pops up in the corner of the screen. If i’m whim-reading an article i’m probably in bed, waiting for coffee, waiting for food, or having a grand old time on the toilet – environments not conducive to serious deep thought on the topic I have just read about (unless it’s a particularly existential toilet experience).
Ruminating on the ideas and concepts proposed in an article is encouraged through the very layout of physical press. Instincts to reach for the share button, move away from the page via related links, or to rush for the comments section shut down our abilities to just stop and digest what we have very quickly consumed online. Thought indigestion can’t be cured by a nap and a Gaviscon. Thinking can be fun kids. Without these share buttons, flashing porn or car ads, or tantalising comment smash downs, print media presents a calm meadow of reflection and understanding. Picture the calm meadow. It’s a good meadow. At times online media can feel like the M25 next to the calm meadow. Find your chi, and come back to the calm meadow – we promise you don’t have to take your clothes off.
Magazines are just downright gorgeous. Even if i’m not up to reading, i just like to hold them close – no jokes it’s getting sad now. Layouts can change with the topic of the piece, meaning that dynamic representations and facts can provide illuminating contexts if required and the text can speak for its minimalist self if not. Theme and tone can be articulated almost immediately through specific fonts, layouts, colour palettes, and images.
These images can also be incredibly satisfying to hold in your hand. In a world divided by screen resolutions, I can look at a gorgeous print of Horizon Zero Dawn in a dingy train station and still gain as much as someone perusing in a penthouse suite. I am also much more likely to be wowed into silence by a vibrant and detailed screenshot if i’m seeing it for the first time in all its glory on a double page spread than if i’m viewing it as a thumbnail on my grubby laptop screen.
Sensual… I Mean Sensory Experience
This is where things can get a bit sexual. The feel of a weighty bound collection of gaming industry tidbits, discussion, and elegantly flattering screenshots printed on real paper-smelling paper, and covered in a tactile patchwork of promises and headlines. It’s getting too much but damn it it’s fucking sexy.
The Perusal Factor
I love a good peruse. I probably read each article in a magazine three or four times through various paragraph perusals throughout my day. It’s not procrastination if it’s reading, after all. Having the month’s worth of magazines about the room just makes it so much easier to collapse into a chair and flick through some good words for a bit. Perusing actual pages makes the whole experience feel entirely more intellectual. I go from a cross-eyed keyboard tapper to a majestic, armchair dwelling pipe smoker in an office of fine leather bound books.