The End of the Printed Game Guide

Ebooks were once feared to be the harbinger of the end times for printed books. I’m not going to spend time recounting that tale; suffice it to say we now know that not to be the case. But the rise of readily available information on the internet has left its fair share of bodies in its wake. In 2012, long-established bastion of knowledge and highbrow bookshelf mainstay Encyclopedia Britannica made the decision to stop producing physical copies of its books, choosing to focus instead on the digital aspect of its platform. In that moment, a thousand children who wanted to grow up to be door-to-door encyclopedia salespeople had their hearts broken. And just like the encyclopedia, the printed strategy guide is on the verge of extinction.

Depending on your age and the relationship you had with video games when you were a child, you may or may not have fond memories of going to a game store and having your much-beleaguered parents purchase you the answer to all of your frustrations—a game guide. In the time before the internet, if you were a kid and you got stuck playing a game, you only had two options for advancing: you could rely on the intelligence and goodwill of friends who had gotten further than you (good luck), or you could nag your parents to buy you the game guide for the game they bought you (which you played on the system they bought you, using the extra accessories they bought you). And when you held that game guide in your hands and cracked it open, a few things became instantly clear: first, the Water Temple was designed by sadists; and second, now that you were holding this real, tangible thing in your hands, you simply were better than all your friends. But now, given the news that Prima Guides is ceasing production, it seems the internet has managed to make another publishing mainstay obsolete.

Yet while the internet has ruined some things completely (like dating and privacy), the transfer of gaming tips from paper to screen was not without its benefits. If you’re stuck on a game or simply want to learn a finishing move, a quick Google search will provide you with dozens of links—some of them from established gaming web publications, but most of them from individuals who want to share what they’ve learned. A constant dialogue has been opened up on subreddits and YouTube channels, so now when you embark on a new game, you’re never really alone. And while the feeling of holding a new game guide and having all your problems disappear may be gone, it’s been replaced by a sense of community and connectedness that an isolated reading could never provide. People can share their experiences like never before, and in situations where it is dangerous to go alone, it helps to have a few friends in your back pocket.

Goldie-Oldies: Nostalgia in Literature and Radio

In Allison Green’s unconventional travel memoir, The Ghosts Who Travel with Me, nostalgia is a running theme. Green devotes just as much time to journeying down memory lane as she does to retracing the famous trout-fishing trip of sixties counterculture writer Richard Brautigan. The Ghosts Who Travel with Me lovingly describes Green’s golden memories of the sixties, which she was too young at the time to truly understand or enjoy; of Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, one of her favorite books as a teenager; and of her own ancestral places and forebears. Green’s literary pilgrimage through Washington and Idaho becomes a quest to reconnect with these formative events, people, and places as an adult.

Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that Allison Green likes to connect with her audience through the medium of radio, which many have declared outmoded in this age of internet podcasts. Few are now alive who remember the golden age of radio, when families gathered around the living room radio every evening instead of the television set; however, most people can easily recall listening to their parents’ favorite stations as children—and many remember the battles that ensued over the radio dial when they reached adolescence and developed their own opinions about “good” music! Radio is familiar, comfortable, and steeped in personal memories—what better venue for Green and The Ghosts Who Travel with Me?

Despite the dawn of the digital age and the old-timey patina that good ol’ radio has acquired as a result, according to an article on the Slate website, terrestrial radio is in no danger of going extinct. In fact, it wouldn’t even qualify as endangered—over 90 percent of Americans age twelve and up still tune in to a traditional radio station at least once a week. This is because terrestrial radio still has several advantages over those newfangled podcasts: it costs listeners nothing save the one-time expense of purchasing a radio unit; it is more accessible to a broader range of people than podcasts, for which internet access is a necessity; and it is several times more profitable for station owners and content creators.

Instead of replacing classic radio, podcasts are increasingly being used to serve niche markets or even to supplement radio programming in some capacity. For instance, podcasts have proven to be an excellent method of disbursing radio content to people who either missed a broadcast or don’t live or work within the original station’s range. Allison Green herself has taken advantage of this alliance between the old and the new. Earlier this summer, she was interviewed by Kate Raphael of Berkeley, California’s KPFA 94.1 FM for the show Women’s Magazine, and by Marcia Perlstein of Port Townsend, Washington’s KPTZ 91.9 FM for the show Under the Rainbow. After the original broadcasts were aired, both stations posted podcast versions of Green’s interviews to their websites, effectively doubling their audience.

The combination of terrestrial radio and internet podcasts unifies the past with the present and the future, much like Allison Green did on her literary pilgrimage through Brautigan’s Idaho. No matter how far technology advances, or how much we grow up, we will always have a place in our hearts for the goldie-oldies.