For Polygon’s third cover story, I put together an online magazine about Japan’s game industry. It’s fairly common these days to see stories summing up what’s happening in Japan. So I went another direction and decided to focus on specific examples — people struggling to get funding, working with Western publishers, succeeding in mobile, going independent, etc. An attempt to show the industry through the eyes of people living it.

The format is, in part, an homage to EGM and Edge’s Japan theme issues from many years back, where they put together a bunch of different types of coverage of games made in Japan. That was the starting point, thinking about what kinds of features and profiles would make sense if we did something like that now.

Fast forward two or three months and we ended up with 18 stories — mostly developer profiles, but also a reunion, two columns and two cross interviews. I’m especially happy with the stories on Vane, Katsuhiro Harada, Ninja Gaiden and Weekly Famitsu. (The Famitsu story is one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, as a game media nerd who loves buying it even though I can’t read it.)

Probably the most fun part of all this, though, has been putting together the online magazine format with the editorial apps team at Vox. I’m kind of amazed they came up with something that works this well — anyone who knows me knows I can’t stop talking about it.

There’s a few different pieces to it. First is just the general interface, where you can flip between pages with your arrow keys and jump to any page from the table of contents. I read a lot of iPad magazines and wish they all worked like this.

Second is the rotating cover page — which I guess is a confusing term since we’re calling this whole issue Polygon’s third cover story, but the first page when you open the app. Early on, I had an idea to do an art gallery featuring different takes on the state of Japan’s game industry, illustrated by people who work in it, and we somehow pulled that off with a really nice interface that rotates the images on the cover. I’m still surprised that we were able to get Gravity Rush artist Takeshi Oga and Doshin the Giant creator Kazutoshi Iida to contribute, and I love what they did with the idea. (Also, huge thanks to our apps team for the silly little dotted line and pair of scissors they added to second page where you can download these illustrations — a reference to how Famitsu gifts readers download codes in its print issues with a similar look.)

And then third is the music player on the bottom of the browser window — the “jukebox,” as I like to call it. It took a lot of back and forth to figure out how to make it work properly, but I loved the idea of having a soundtrack for the issue from composers who have worked in Japan’s game industry, similar to the artists for the cover. And the team at Brave Wave was super helpful in setting that up and working with us as we changed plans. Can’t thank them enough.

Anyway, this has kind of turned into a thank you note, so I’m not sure how much insight it gives, but I hope that’s a good sign.

Art: Takeshi Oga