Today’s Response: Can too much information be a curse!

15 December, 2009

Lets just get down to it…information is a blessing and a curse. Without information about games, we would eventually be stuck indefinitely in one spot on a game. You have tried everything and nothing seems to work, so the only way to continue is to ask for advice. Even Nintendo acknowledges the fact that people will need outside help on games. Check out the Nintendo Automated Game Play Help number that they have set up for players. There are multiple walkthrough guides of games on Gamefaqs, or similar sights. Even College Humor has a walkthrough, of sorts, for Super Mario 2. These are usually written by players who take the time to give back to the community that they love. For those who think video game players are selfish beasts, think again! We actually help each other out when times are tough. If a player is stuck on a game they will either give up playing, or they will keep trying until they make some progress. The latter usually results in hour long gaming sessions where nothing is really accomplished. I consider it a waste of time! Well there is a third solution, and it is to find help. This is where information is a blessing, where information actually helps you enjoy the game even more than you did before.

Where information is a curse:

  • Incomplete or vague answers. When you need help the worst thing that can happen is that you search for a while only to find one possible solution. The problem is that the solution either doesn’t work, or is even more impossible than any alternatives that you intended to try. This will cause even more frustration. Incomplete answers are vanishing quickly though, which means less frustration for all. I remember when I was young if my brother and me needed help, all we could do was read a magazine that came once a month. If the tip wasn’t in that magazine we would just play away to find solutions. There wasn’t any way to meet up with people outside of our house. We had friends, but they were probably stuck at the same spots we were. Kids these days will almost never know that feeling, that emptiness which fills your heart when information is impossible to find.
  • Using resources as a crutch, no wait, using resources as that kid who found a wheelchair at a retirement home. Or this guy using a wheelchair. That fits perfectly with my metaphor. It may seem fun at first, heck, the first few hours might be a blast. You get all pumped up and boast to friends or people online, then you decide to let go of the help. You coast along for a while as people, or other players, watch your stupidity, and then BAM! You crash! Using too much help when it is not needed defeats the whole purpose of discovering yourself within the game. If you don’t create your own fun, how can you expect it to be fun a second time around, when you know how everything happens in the game. Its like reading the script of a movie before seeing the movie. You know everything, but you don’t know anything about the music or actors. because movies are more vivid than the script. You don’t obtain the full experience. It also takes away from people who actually need help, and might not seek it out because they think its not a respectable thing to do. I doubt that many people actually use walkthroughs all the way through their first run of a game, but if I saw someone do it I wouldn’t think highly of them. Not highly at all.

When I wrote the question for today I was also thinking about the amount of information that is in a game. For extremely complex games I’m sure more people would need to seek help more frequently. There wouldn’t be any harm in this because its impossible to remember or find all of the information that is useful in a complex game. In fact, that might be an important element in the game itself, like in MMORPGs. Social connections could be formed around sharing information, or skill builds that people have come up with.

In the future it will be interesting to see where information about video games takes us. I think we are already at the point where finding information isn’t hard. What will be interesting is how game developers will adapt with the way they seek out information. I think it could be a very fun element. Perhaps a webpage in which a user must uncover clues on how to continue in a game. The players won’t have to use the website, but its there if someone needs it for help. Then again, that might be impossible with all the information already being provided by someone else.


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