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The Gaming Intelligence Agency, located at http://www.thegia.com , is one of the web's best console gaming sites, which is more impressive because they're non-profit. They specialize in RPGs, adventure games, puzzle games, and rhythm games, because those are the genres their staff prefers to play, and widening their coverage would decrease its quality.

One must note that they do not rigidly enforce the limits of their coverage - the coverage is of games they like, not games that fit into specific categories. The biggest current example of this is their extensive coverage of Metal Gear Solid 2, a plot-intensive action game that only might be called an adventure game by a vague stretch of the term.

Neither do they have a consistent, universal bias towards or against any console, genre, developer or anything else - many of the staff members have their own biases, for sure, but on the whole they do a good job of being impartial. There are staff members who advocate Square and the Final Fantasy series, and those who prefer Enix and Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior. There are those who prefer serious storylines and a gritty tone in games, and those who prefer a more Nintendo-like attitude of lighthearted games focusing on the sheer fun of the gameplay. In general, though, they all believe in accurate, unbiased journalism, and deliver it - the site usually posts news articles daily, with a greater volume of articles around the time of important console game events, such as E3 and the TGS. At times, one can't believe that it's produced by a scattered group of amateurs.

The site's other features include:
  • A news archive and an archive of game previews, reviews and "Vault" retrospectives
  • "Special Ops" articles and special features (often interviews with industry luminaries like Howard Lincoln and Hironobu Sakaguchi).
  • The "Sketch Artist" fan-art gallery, updated more or less weekly.
  • The "Parallel Universe" fanfic section, ditto.
  • And my favorite section..."Double Agent", the letters column. From inane flaming to intelligent discussion, read it for a week and you'll get it all. And all the columnists they've had have been more or less levelheaded and mature, good at stimulating discussion and insulting those who don't know what they're talking about :)

In any case, the heart of the site is its spectacular news coverage. For one who shares the tastes in gaming of those who maintain the site, it is an indispensable news resource, or even the only gaming news site one needs. I love the site; you may, or may not. If you're interested in video games, give it a chance.

Update: The GIA is over. They've shut down, mainly for reasons involving money for server space and bandwidth, and presumably also emotional strain on the people who gave all their free time to the site. The site will remain as an archive, and there is something new coming at Gameforms.com - it claims to be a new kind of game coverage. Well, at least it'll be good game coverage no matter what.

They cruelly decided to post the message that it was over on April 1, 2002. Yep, April Fools' Day. And the joke wasn't the news item - it was the fact that it was true. They only had me going for about five minutes thinking the site was done, then they had me for about 18 hours thinking it was a joke, until I read the site today and got to be sad over the site closing all over again. Bastards.

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