Saturday, October 01, 2005

is it a bird, is it a plane?

No, it's Edge, but it's no less beautiful

I'm studying things I've never even considered before. You would expect one or two unusual thoughts and observations. This one's a no-brainer. I always knew Edge was gorgeous. Now, I realise why.

The visual journalism lecture was eye opening for a number of reasons, but most of them gush from Cosmo or GQ. She was getting quite excited by red/black combos, celebrity pictures spread over two pages and Saddam's eyes, which is all well and good. But I sat there thinking - how do I apply this to videogame journalism.

Simple. The same fundamentals apply. Striking images work beautifully, but the magic is in the placement of words. Jay-Z looks great in a suit, but how do you translate that into a four page preview on Gunstar Heroes, or a retrospective look at Manhunt? Bob Dylan looks classic on the front page of the Radio Times, but how do you make Quake 4 look good on Edge?

How do you make a game mag so striking that you see it in an instant, like a pheonix rising from the saturated pile of magazines that litter WHSmith?

Most videogame magazines look crap. I'm thinking GamesMaster, PC Gamer, anything official. Edge looks and feels beautiful. The Treasure piece this month starts with a skewed colour anime of three characters from Gunstar Heroes. It's dynamic, striking and action packed. But the text is skewed as well.

Edge have an expose on Quake 4. The piece starts on a spread with a black and white render of a gruesome monster and his gun-arm. You can't help but stare. But they wrap the first three pars around the gun. You're staring straight down the barrel.

But this is the best - the Manhunt piece. Anyone who's played the game will know its aesthetic centres on the snuff movie theme. You view the character from some hidden cctv camera. What do they do? Litter the background with televisions showing grainy screenshots of Manhunt. Genius.

Most hacks don't realise the importance of layout and design in a magazine. Hell, I didn't until this week. But it goes hand in hand with every phone call, interview or game test a journalist has to do. The words and the looks are inseperable bedfellows. Without one, the magic under the sheets ceases to exist.

Most game mags simply lump in screenshots and chuck in the text without a care in the world. At least Edge give a shit. This is, after all, about games. We obsess about aesthetics, graphics, design, layout. We commend games that do these things well. Should we therefore not expect the same from our journalism?

P.S: This is not Edge fanboyism. I actually hate the ugly thing.

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