The Internet: Changing the Gaming Experience for the Better

Link Eyes

Growing up, there was always the choice to sled down my driveway or at the local golf course. The local golf course had advantages; people had trail-blazed paths, it was larger and steeper, I could interact with people I didn’t know, perhaps try someone else’s sled.

While I lean slightly more heavily on the negative sides of the impact of globalization on gaming (perhaps in a minority), the many benefits it has brought are unquestionable. Let’s just jump right in and consider some of these positive elements.

Guides online have helped me get past parts that I was stuck at for stupid reasons. For example, I remember getting stuck in Metroid Other M at a wall that I was supposed to missile. This was actually the first thing I tried, but for whatever reason it didn’t work; it was probably a little off target. Anyways, I was stumped for about an hour just looking around, stuck in my functional fixedness assuming I had tried hitting that wall with a missile. So I eventually looked it up and it was a quick fix.

I face palmed and moved on with my life. I’m always glad for an easy access guide at moments like these. Without one, I probably would have put the game down and stepped away for a while, killing my momentum. There are other games where this exact thing has happened, most notably in older RPGs like Breath of Fire and Phantasy Star.

The expansion of cooperative game playing around the world is pretty awesome and a great way for both far friends and random unknowns to get together and enjoy interacting in exciting ways. Of what little RTSing I did, I have some fond memories of playing some 2v2 with my brother. The Warcraft 3 tower defense set up was another really interesting way to ally strangers and friends across the land.

The expansion of cooperative game playing around the world is pretty awesome and a great way for both far friends and random unknowns to get together and enjoy interacting in exciting ways.

Back in the NES days, playing a console game with people around the world was pretty unfathomable, but it’s hard to imagine not having that power these days. Overall, there has been an increase in general multiplayability with technological advances.

Though not completely on the topic, this just popped into my mind; I never had the chance but I’m pretty sure you could locally set up 2 Gamecubes for 8 player Double Dash awesomeness… I always wanted to make that happen.

Back on track, a strong offshoot of this interconnectedness is the vast expansion of competitive games. Fighting games, FPS’s and RTS’s have all boomed and very high caliber play has evolved. These advances allow furthered opportunities to easily connect with a vast array of opponents, as well as communicate about and analyze strategies more effortlessly.

These advances allow furthered opportunities to easily connect with a vast array of opponents, as well as communicate about and analyze strategies more effortlessly.

Seeing gameplay reach new heights is pretty awesome. Even more neat to think about, is that tournaments are generally localized in an area. That is, although these games are gaining popularity through more seamless internet experiences, it is also bringing people physically together over the love of a common interest.

That is, although these games are gaining popularity through more seamless internet experiences, it is also bringing people physically together over the love of a common interest.

I feel like I need to mention reviews again because I ragged on them a little in the counterpart article. Raters often have different intentions and desires with what they are looking for, and thus could give a negative review focusing on elements that are entirely irrelevant to me. That being said, a good review explicates clearly the components that go into each score, and this can be used to better understand possible expectations and biases that are going into that review. Reviews are vastly helpful in picking up hidden gems and not wasting time or money on flops. I generally follow IGN for inside scoops.

Reviews are vastly helpful in picking up hidden gems and not wasting time or money on flops.

Without getting into the mechanics of a game, it can be hard to get a good sense of whether I will like it or not, and to this extent reviews are extremely helpful. I highly suggest taking them with a grain of salt though. If anything, I think the fault lies less in the actual review and more in the fast pace of our society, which often leads to skimmed read-throughs of thorough reviews, or the use of aggregation sites that just compile a bunch of numbers, not considering the qualitative aspects behind those numbers.

In another post I had talked about how each person is looking for their own experience. I’m sure an easily accessible solution to stumpers in games is exactly what many are looking for. If priorities are aligned in such a way that the time spent overcoming certain challenges isn’t worth it, having access to a guide makes games far more manageable.

Let us consider the fantasy novel parallel I mentioned in the previous article. In this mind set, a stumbling block in a game would be like not being able to turn the page of a book, which could be quite frustrating.

I mentioned how my mom used a guide to hunt down the Golden Skulltulas. I know she had a lot of fun tracking them down, crossing to hidden corners of the land, guide by her side. I’m sure she would not have bothered without the guide as she is a busy woman these days, but that quick solution enabled her to open up those locked components of the game.

Even though I generally don’t like looking things up, there have been times where a challenge in a game was nicely balanced by some aid from online. I remember getting stuck for hours on a level in Advance Wars on hard. I pushed myself near the point of giving up on the game entirely but decided to look it up, and was very glad I did. There were insanely specific instructions on what to do for the first 6 turns including an “if the enemy kills this unit now, restart” instruction. I was happy to just get past the level and get on with the game.

I also used a guide to help me in Blast Corps from time to time. Going for platinums was an intense task and required great manual dexterity (and even utilizing a glitch in the game on one level if I remember correctly). Sometimes, like in this case, I use guides as a balancing component to help insure that my methods and tactics are on the right track, because I am more interested in addressing my adroitness in that game.

The internet is also handy for finding elements of games that I would have never discovered otherwise. First there are Easter Eggs, which are often obscure little hard-to-find references. I am fine reading about where these little tokens have been added to games. For example, I enjoyed checking out the places where Totaka’s song has worked its way into games, and know I would have never found these oddities myself.

When it comes to things that are more relevant storyline wise, for example secret dungeons or quests, I’m sort of on the fence. I appreciate the fact that guides are there and that I have a means to find secrets that I would have otherwise missed; however, as I mentioned in the last post, many of them I would not have missed had the internet not changed my gaming attitude. So in this way, it’s a little like a drug that I have become addicted to.

Though in this light, I see a positive element in that the internet can help bridge the threshold gap between players. Game designers do all they can to please a wide array of players, but doing so in its entirety is pretty much impossible. If an external gaming network can help games capture a wider audience through this bridging, it is definitely a plus.

Game designers do all they can to please a wide array of players, but doing so in its entirety is pretty much impossible. If an external gaming network can help games capture a wider audience through this bridging, it is definitely a plus.

So what’s the verdict? To me, it’s kind of like sledding. Growing up, there was always the choice to sled down my driveway or at the local golf course. The local golf course had advantages; people had trail-blazed paths, it was larger and steeper, I could interact with people I didn’t know, perhaps try someone else’s sled.

But at the end of the day I often wanted to sled down my driveway. I could create my own paths getting a little bit further every run, sometimes veering off course onto exciting different routes, each with it’s own bumps. After an hour or two I would be able to shoot over the snowdrift at the end of my driveway from the plow and zoom into the backyard wilderness behind our house. So I am left with a soft spot for my gaming days of old.

After an hour or two I would be able to shoot over the snowdrift at the end of my driveway from the plow and zoom into the backyard wilderness behind our house. So I am left with a soft spot for my gaming days of old.

Anyways, those are some of my opinions on the subject. Let me know how you feel the direction of gaming has positively impacted your gaming experience. With all the factors weighed in, do you prefer the gaming experience today or do you long for the gaming of 10+ years ago? Or maybe it hasn’t changed your play experience nearly as much as me. If you are a new gamer, do any of these points particularly resonate with you, and do you feel like you may have missed out on anything coming into the community that is already super integrated?

Thanks for your time. Until next time, game on and learn on!

~Dylan

8 thoughts on “The Internet: Changing the Gaming Experience for the Better

  1. angrygaijin

    I think it’s pretty amazing that back in the day game secretes and knowledge DID spread without the internet! (Mario warp zones and secret whistles, as an example.) Nevertheless! The interenet helps enormously with the little trick bits og modern games that are sooo much more complicated than the ones we used to play. 🙂

    Reply
    1. connorbros Post author

      Thanks for commenting. That is true! Between tenacious gamers, guide books and knowing someone that knew someone, I always felt like there was at least a moderate flow of knowledge to the point that I never felt like I was missing large segments of games… though I may just have not known what I didn’t know!

      Something felt a little more special about that word of mouth cascade of intel though. Like that awesome feeling when I entirely accidentally found Drumstick in Diddy Kong Racing, and could tell my friends about it.

      ~Dylan

      Reply
  2. cary

    I can only imagine what my gaming experience might have been like if I’d had the Internet during the “olden” days! I agree that with word-of-mouth, magazines, and guides, there was no shortage of information back then. I also never felt like I missed out on huge portions of games just because I may not have known about this secret or that easter egg. But I’ve also never been much of a completionist. As angrygaijin points out, there’s so much more to games these days — side quests, secret levels, special items, etc. — that the Internet can be a really useful tool in helping a player get through an in-depth RPG/shooter/action adventure game. I tend to use it to look for help when I get *really* stuck or just don’t have time to navigate a difficult level. Other than that, the way I game hasn’t really changed much.

    Reply
    1. connorbros Post author

      Thanks for the comment! Glad to hear your views. It’s definitely true that games have gotten more complex. To somebody who is fairly non-completiony, easy access to secrets in a game can almost be seen like DLC I think. Without it, the secrets stay unearthed, with a quick access guide there are new levels and bosses unlocked etc. At it’s best, the information cascade works efficiently to balance different people’s tolerances and thresholds with different elements of a game.

      Reply
  3. diceinabox

    I’m in agreement with angrygaijin up above, if I was stuck on a game in the early nineties I had either had the school playground (rife with secrets, misinformation and rumours), or an expensive (I had no pocket money) monthly games magazine. But today, as games get larger, harder and more complicated the Internet can be a massive help on occasion. I just try to avoid having a step-by-step walkthrough open at all times while I’m playing. Once you consult a guide it’s a slippery slope, games are designed to be played after all!

    Reply
    1. connorbros Post author

      Thanks for commenting! I don’t think I had enough gaming friends 😛 … but between my brother and me and a couple other friends I think we generally managed to unravel games’ secrets. I think the slippery slope presents a big balancing act… It’s so hard to know before doing something if it is something you would enjoy more digging your teeth into or would rather glean from an external source, especially not yet understanding the benefits and consequences. Like getting 100% in FF10-2 without a guide is just ridiculous (from what I have heard) and I would be glad to have guide to help unlock the hidden elements of that game. Where getting the fully comprehensive ending in Devil Survivor 2 may be reasonable on a third or so run through the game and I wish I had tried a little harder to read into certain conversations and try to maximize relationships before cracking a guide open. It’s one of those hindsight is 20/20 things, but I am generally pretty good (I think) at gauging how best to temper my gaming experience.

      Reply
  4. feelingblind

    There was a lot of charm in not knowing, only hearing secrets and tips by word-of-mouth. Movies like “The Wizard” gave us glimpses of secrets for Super Mario Bros. 3, things like that don’t often happen anymore. There are some secrets not found through game-play, but by hacking the code and finding secrets that way.

    The nice things about guides, especially for RPGs is you don’t have to wander around for hours fighting random battles if you know where you’re supposed to go, and how soon the next boss encounter or save point will be located.

    Reply
    1. connorbros Post author

      Thanks for posting! Yeah, I definitely agree that there was something quaint or charming about the grapevine reveals for secrets of years past.

      It’s nice not having to waste time in the gaming experience. It’s valuable to try to understand what things we feel are value added to our gaming experience and what are not. Ideally, guides could be utilized to cut out non value added activities and make the experience more enjoyable. But it can be near impossible to know what things we would have rather looked up or discovered ourselves in different instances.

      For example, I like looking up points of no return, because I enjoy scavenging areas and feel cheated when I miss that opportunity. But I know people that knowing where a PonR is would really hurt the experience.

      ~Dylan

      Reply

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