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My eyes! My eyes!!!

Ok, that's something you usually shout after you've seen something hideously ugly, and that's not what this blog is about. However, it *is* about a bit of an assault on my eyes, so I feel justified using it.

I live in Canada, and Game Informer's subscription rate for international delivery is extremely high (though I guess no more so than most US magazines, so that's not a slam), so I have it sent to my parents' house in Iowa. I collect them when I come for a visit or, if there is a long time between visits, my Mom sends a couple up to me when they've arrived. So I haven't actually read the last few issues yet. I've started doing so now.

I'm reading the November issue right now, and I noticed something that, in reality, I've noticed before but always kind of worked around it.

Some of this magazine, as cool as it looks, is just hard to read unless you have perfect lighting.

A bit of background: I had PRK laser eye surgery back in 2003. Last time I had my vision checked, I was still 20/20. I have pretty small type on my computer screen, I can read books in light faint enough that my Mom asks me if I need more light. I don't have a vision problem.

But some of the GI articles, I can't read at all unless I have a light right overhead, shining on the magazine.

Don't get me wrong. I think the magazine looks really awesome and I do like the redesign that happened a year ago (or so). The wraparound cover art is usually beautiful, and I love the pictures in the magazine too.

But do you have to put white text on those pictures? Or play around with text and background colour to the point where it's almost unreadable?

Take the November issue, for example (for those of you following along with your collection, it's the one with Resistance 3 on the cover).

Andy's (as usual) brilliant editorial about the future of handheld gaming is white text on the green background of the Resistance 3 tease. Ok, that's not too bad, though I did have to work a bit at reading that.

Continue through the letters section, that's black on white and very easy. (as an aside that has nothing to do with this blog, Meagan, you looked extremely hot sitting on that throne of classic game cartridges).

The next few articles are fine, but then we get to the Mass Effect fiction article.

This isn't the hardest to read, but I did need to improve my light source a bit to read the small white text on black background. Still, nothing too bad, but noticeable. There are a couple more instances of white text on black further on, which could become a problem at some point (if I'm having to adjust now, I would think it would just get worse in the future).

Then we get to the Sacred Cow Barbecue.

Seriously? White text on a kind of yellowish/orangish background? Ok, this is becoming more work, but it was still kind of readable. It didn't make my head hurt, anyway.

It wasn't until I got to the main articles of the magazine (before the previews) that I was just defeated. The Resistance 3 preview was almost unreadable until I left the room and found a better light source. Black text on a light greenish background? And the captions? Black text on a beige background? I skipped the captions, and those are sometimes the funniest thing about the article!

And the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood article was even worse.White text on light brown, and then the second page! White on dark red. The headings of each "10 things you should know" about the game is dark, bloody red on black. Even in good lighting, I had trouble with those.

I finally had to just jump forward in the magazine to find an article I could read until I changed rooms.

The Previews and Reviews section are fine, of course. Normal black text on white background (though the captions can sometimes be difficult).

Is it just me, or are magazines going a little bit too far in the "making the magazine look cool for the reader" style by sacrificing readability? As us gamers get older, our eyesight will start to degrade and the magazine may become more and more unreadable. I mean, I have 20/20 vision and I'm having problems. I know some people just have trouble with certain contrasts, so even 20/20 vision doesn't necessarily mean anything, but still...

Actually, I find it ironic that the issue that I really start noticing this stuff is also the issue with Meagan's awesome article about getting gaming companies to acknowledge those with various kinds of visual and other disabilities (incidentally, that article is white text on black, and a bit hard to read as well, though not too bad).

I am really interested in the online version of the magazine that's been touted recently. Partially because it means I can get my issues immediately instead of depending on my Mom, but also for readability. I'm assuming it will have all of those bells and whistles that most electronic text has, and thus won't have these problems. I've sent a message to the GI customer service people about getting my subscription changed, because unfortunately it goes through next November, and I hope I don't have to wait until I renew to get the electronic version.

Until then, I will keep reading this excellent magazine, skipping articles that I can't read until I have better lighting, but otherwise enjoying such impressive work.

It's the fact that I'm willing to do all of that despite the occasional hardship that indicates what a great magazine GI is.

I just wish it was easier to read sometimes.

 

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