The Internet has impacted gaming in many different ways. Online gameplay has considerably boosted the value of many multiplayer titles, and created new exciting genres; digital distribution has given wings to the dreams of humble developers; and the wide web’s sharing nature has both allowed gamers to show their achievements to the world, and supported the virtual gathering of people with mutual gaming interests to engage in discussions that are occasionally productive.
It is awfully easy to take those advances for granted; after all, many of us have enjoyed the benefits of Internet through more than half of our lives, and – as the years go by – those shifts start feeling more like a long-standing norm than a fresh mind-blowing novelty brought to us by technology. The present is so colorful and bright that remembering the past gets harder everyday.
The fact of the matter is the Internet has altered the way we play games. At the same time, it has also changed the way we relate to them. Whether it was for the best or for the worse is another discussion altogether. A silly press of a button is all that currently stands between gamers and a huge horde of information on existing and upcoming titles.
Teaser trailers, gameplay videos, art, in-game images, interviews with developers, features, rumors, reviews, walkthroughs and much more; everything is readily available to anyone that is willing to take a peek. It is one of the wonders of the information era, and it is an exciting ability that a huge portion of the population uses on a very regular basis (every five minutes or so, to be more specific). It has become so normal, and it is so vastly superior to the slow and old printed press, that we never stop and think about how it has affected us.
About fifteen years ago, getting information on Nintendo’s new games was something that happened once a month, when the local Nintendo magazine made its way into my mail box. Reviews displayed a dozen pictures of the game, walkthroughs came split across three monthly editions, rumors came neatly grouped in a few pages, upcoming titles were mentioned in previews with a couple of images, and if you wanted to watch the game in motion, you had to either go to a store to watch it on a demo screen, rent it, or actually purchase the title. If the game in question was a few months away from release, then seeing how it actually looked like in action was nearly impossible.
Remembering those humbler days inevitably brings about an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, and it cannot be denied that things have gotten easier and more practical, not to mention how helpful all that information is when it comes to helping players get into new series, or decide whether to buy a game or not. However, to what point is this overflow of information good? Is there a clear line delimiting the point up on which gathering more information on a title stops being positive and starts being negative?
News, images, and rumors were rarer more than a decade ago, and finding information on a specific game was sometimes a true ordeal. At the same time, that apparently terrible lack of information made purchasing or renting a new title a very special experience, because it marked the moment on which the game would transform – for the first time – from a few images and words on a magazine to an actual running software.
Nowadays, chances are, many of us have recently went into newly bought games with all of the title’s features memorized, and with almost one hour of gameplay footage fully watched. Even worse, some gamers know, before they even turn on the game for the first time, details of the plot, stages, and even some of the bosses. It all might sound normal to the ears of a modern gamer, and pointing out how the abundance of information detracts a certain part of the gaming experience may come off as the ramblings of a puritan gamer; but it’s precisely the normality of it all that diminishes or completely nullifies the impact of little nuggets of a game that were built with the goal to amaze.
Watching a game come to life on our TV screen used to be like opening the door to a brand new world. Nowadays, if you are unable to control yourself in this all-you-can-eat era of information, that great moment might be downgraded to the mere transportation of that world from Youtube to our TV screens. It is a considerable step down, and anyone who is not careful can severely harm the value of a fantastic gaming experience. Information is undoubtedly valuable, but consume a little bit too much of it and games can lose their magic.