Interview with Kevin Steele the Editor/Owner of “GameRoom Magazine”

APRCOVER

Not many print magazines out there can claim to cater to people who embrace a retro gaming lifestyle and while GameRoom Magazine is not specific to the retro milieu, the dream of owning a dedicated gaming space, resonates strongly with we retro types. The Retroist was lucky enough to sit down for an interview with GameRoom Magazine Editor/Owner and ask him a few questions.

In you own words, what can a subscriber expect in an issue of GameRoom Magazine?

GameRoom Magazine is billed as “Your Guide to the Ultimate Home Game Room,” and while the magazine’s focus has traditionally been on collecting and restoring coin-op games, we are expanding to cover anything and everything you’d find in a home game room: bars, jukes, pool tables, modern consoles…you name it: if it’s for home entertainment, we’re into it.

How long has GameRoom Magazine been around and have you always been involved with it?

GameRoom Magazine just celebrated its 20th year in publication. I’ve owned the publication since 2006, when I purchased it from the second owner, Tim Ferrante. (GameRoom was founded by Dave Cooper, who passed away in 1996.) GameRoom’s been in continuously monthly publication since January of 1989, missing only one month (October of 1996, when Dave Cooper passed away — Tim Ferrante bought the magazine and published a double-issue in November).

Do you find that the Internet has helped to increase the interested in gaming?

The Internet has been an amazing uniter: no matter how narrow or niche your gaming interest, you can now find others with the same interest. Even in a category as specific as “pinball collecting” there are an amazing number of sub-groups: Pre-War Pins, EM (Electromechanical) Pins, SS (Solid State) Pins, DMD (Dot-Matrix Display) pins…the list goes on, and you can even subdivide those groups by specific pinball manufacturers. Every one of these sub-groups has their own interests, and through the Internet have been able to find others with their specific tastes.

You relaunched your site recently. Will the web become a bigger part of GRM’s longterm strategy?

The Web is the future, no doubt about it. One of the saving graces of a print publication is that it’s portable and disposable. Eventually, those advantages will be eliminated. Not for a while yet, but the time will come when an e-reader will be the way everyone reads magazines.

One of the main reasons for expanding our web site was to be able to offer easy access to a lot of our older content: we recently undertook a huge project, scanning and digitally archiving every issue of GameRoom ever published. It’s an incredible resource. Another reason for the site upgrade was to be able to offer things we just can’t do in print, such as video and user forums. We also added a gallery for users to share their game rooms.

I think about this all the time. So you must as well, what does your dream game room look like?

Hmm…my dream game room is constantly evolving, depending on what I’m passionate about at the moment. It’d definitely have a nice home theater and a great game room stocked with plenty of arcade classics…but beyond that? Hard to pin down. I do have a weakness for the “80’s Arcade” — lots of neon and black light, rows of noise arcade cabinets, and blasting 80’s pop music. I think we all have a fondness for our teen years: I think it sort of imprints on us.

Well I cannot disagree with you on that. What would be your favorite Arcade or Pinball game?

This one’s easy: my favorite arcade game is, hands-down, Robotron: 2084. I fell in love with that game from the moment I first saw it at the 1984 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. After that I made it my mission to find and play it everywhere I went. I would literally play it until my hands bled. I still have what I call “Robotron scars” on the inside edges of my ring fingers!

As far as pinball? That’s a bit tougher. I have a lot of games that I’ve enjoyed, and I currently own three (Attack from Mars, Cirqus Voltaire, and Dr. Who), but I’ve never been as passionate about any one pinball as I was about Robotron. I only really discovered my passion for pinball in the last few years, so I’m still “playing the field,” so to speak (literally and figuratively ;-)

I think a lot of Retroist reader might be interested in picking of a copy. Where can people find copies of GRM?

GameRoom Magazine is a subscriber-only publication, so it’s not available on newsstands, but you can view a sample issue on our web site, or order a individual issues from our online store. We also offer a special 6-month “trial subscription” for $15, sort of a test-drive to see if you like the publication.

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Thanks to Kevin for taking time out to talk to us. If you are interested in GameRoom Magazine, you can check out a sample issue online, try a trial subscription or get a full subscription. Whichever you decide, just make sure to drop by the GameRoom website, which is chock full of interesting information about the GameRoom culture.

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