The Gamer's Quarter is a magazine released for free online and available in print that features articles/reviews on games, always in the flavor of New Games Journalism. It also features awesome artwork and a few odd comics.
New Games Journalism. I say it often, but what does it mean?
My generation grew up with games as a constant fixture. I had the 16-bit era, the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, the two greatest systems of all time. That was the true Golden Age of games, when these powerhouses fought it out like the U.S. and the Soviets, except with less nuclear threats. The Console Wars benefited us all. The SNES had the likes of Super Mario World, Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Super Metroid, Super Castlevania, Mario Is Missing, Super Final Fantasy, and Mario Kart. Some of the greatest games ever made. The Genesis had Sonic 3 and Knuckles, the only game anyone will ever need, a triumph of not only solid gameplay, graphics, and sound, but also marketing. And the music from the Ice Cap Zone is still one of my favorite songs ever. Being immersed in this in my impressionable childhood, it's easy to attach greater significance to games than they may actually have. Inevitably, playing a great game will align with some other great event in life. Well, maybe not. But even if it doesn't, the memories of games and the memories of childhood can't be kept separate; they're a vague blur of colors without a beginning or end, and with only a skewed sense of time.
Many articles will cover games from a writer's childhood, drawing parallels between that stage of life and the game, whether they focus on an event or an emotion. The value of the game is tied inexorably to formative experiences, whether good or bad. Sometimes, a writer may approach an old game again and find that it doesn't have the magic it used to, and they eventually acknowledge that it's because the memory of the game was completely intertwined with the memories of happiness. The same feeling cannot be experienced directly while playing the game, it can only be remembered. An example of this was Giving Up the Ghost in volume 8, where J.R. Freeman tries to play Metroid II again and finds it has lost its appeal. As a kid, Freeman had brought it along on every vacation, Samus' exploration of strange lands mirroring his own. One day he was on vacation again and tried to play it, after having beaten it before. His explanation is that Samus had completed her mission and moved on, and he wasn't ready to move on with her. His solution is only to move on, but he notes the feel of a lack of resolution, and there is a lingering impression of lament. The story right before this one in the same issue is called Secrets and Save Points by Heather Campbell. She talks about playing Secret of Mana with an asshole boyfriend, and the way it's impossible to play it without remembering that relationship. Even while she wanted to enjoy the game, become attached to the characters and story, it was all tarnished forever.
Other game reviews simply place games in a philosophical context. Some make points about current society, such as Effeminaphobia and the Male Intimacy in issue 7, a seething denouncement of current American culture and Far Cry in particular. It references "adolescent power fantasies" and a one-dimensional damsel in distress sex object female protagonist and the old stock Freudian implications and seemingly blames First Person Shooters as a whole for a creative decline in videogames. There are of course, always the commentaries on violence in video games, which will discuss anything from Killer 7 to Ridge Racer. Most issues will also cover game design, using a successful game or series to make the point.
If you are a gamer, this is your mag. I may have made it sound dry, and sometimes it is. But if you believe that games have their own culture, this way of life and philosophy that comes just from sitting in front of a screen for hours with a controller, then this is for you. And The Gamer's Quarter is one of the few places where this counterculture is actually examined directly and deconstructed. It's educational!
TGQ claims to be a "quarterly" publication. Unfortunately, it's been four years since their last issue. I recommend buying things until this is rectified.