Game journalism goes new school with iPad app
Once upon a time, when articles about video game stories appeared on sheets of glossy paper that were bound together with glue, a 19-year-old named Geoff Keighley got the idea to go hang out with the developers of Half-Life as they put the final touches on the game and write about it.
The resulting story, "The Final Hours of Half-Life," published in 1998, pulled back the curtains on a little-known world of game developers and shed light on the grueling, caffeine- and adrenaline-fueled lives of the coders, designers and testers at Valve Software.
Thirteen years later, Keighley, who went on to host a television show on video games called "GT.TV" on MTV's Spike channel, is making the leap to mobile, releasing an iPad app that features his story on the making of Portal 2, the most recent game released by Valve.
What's changed? For one thing, Valve and its founder, Gabe Newell (right), is now a powerhouse developer with titles such as Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress under its belt. And with game distribution going digital, its Steam platform for downloadable games on PCs and Macs, the Bellevue, Wash., company is in the catbird seat.
The app is also an example of how game journalism is evolving to attempt to reach a younger generation of readers who are less likely to be sitting in front of a computer or flipping through paper magazines. With embedded videos, music, and links galore, the $1.99 app kicks up the article's production value a notch. But the writing and reporting is still solid old school.
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Valve founder Gabe Newell, holding a prototype of the gun used in Portal 2. Credit: Valve.