Chris Stead, the founding editor of Australian Game Informer, has branched out with a fully interactive magazine which aims to challenge what we think rich media really means.
He’s created Grab It Magazine, a digital magazine about mobile and tablet gaming which is now in its sixth episode (Stead prefers not to use the word ‘issue’). It attempts to use every available in-game asset from the titles it covers to make each page come to life, mimicking the lighting, sounds and effects of the games themselves to really convey the feel of the game being discussed to readers.
"When I first started Grab It, what was important to me was pushing ahead in what had become the standard digital magazine procedure, which was to use a print template but maybe add slide galleries, embedded trailers and things like that," remembers Stead. "It just didn’t seem to be a particularly inventive way of using the technology at hand."
"I went a step further by making full backdrops out of moving videos, had the soundtracks for the games playing while you read the pieces and uses the game’s animations on all the interactive objects so that you feel immersed in the atmosphere of the game while you’re reading – that’s what I mean when I refer to rich media."
Each episode is no small download, and Stead is fighting the good fight of charging a premium for the content, putting his magazine right alongside the apps he writes about in terms of both the scope of the work involved and the marketplace he’s playing in.
It’s evident in everything Grab It Magazine does, from referring to itself as a ‘triple-A digital videogames publication’ on the official web site, to launching trailers to promote each episode as they near launch, the scale and quality of the endeavour is notable from any engagement with the brand.
Stead aims to keep the rich media coming and keep on exploring new ways to really use peoples’ tablets to have them become immersed in each article.
"One of the big things when I was designing the Grab It format," he explains, "was that I didn’t want users to have to flip to a different screen. A feature on one game should have elements come in and out of the same screen as needed, but it should feel like one ‘place’ that you’re engaging with."
"We’re even using tilt mechanics which change the way the feature appears, adding animations as Easter eggs when you press certain areas of the screen."
Grab It is still nascent, but has already featured big brands like World of Tanks and Magic: The Gathering, as well as well as smaller indie titles like Monument Valley and Republique.