Gamers VS The Internet:
The Battle of Intellect, Skill, Data Transfers, and Broadband Connections
Over the past 20 years, the Internet has streamlined itself into being a very core part of our everyday lives. It was something that was based on ideas branching off from "The Difference Engine" in 1822, delivering the very first "Email" in 1965, being coined "The Internet" in 1974, then dubbed the "World Wide Web" in 1989. This world changing development in technology has brought forth such iconic and heavily used websites such as Ebay and Amazon in 1995-96, our beloved Google in 1998, the infamous Wikipedia in 2001, to now being accessible from the device in your pocket on a regular day to day basis.
So what does this have to do with Gamers today? Well, a lot. As technology advances, so does the Entertainment Industries. The Video Game Industry is heavily dependent on these advancements to make the Next Gen console and experience that is sitting in your living room, bedroom, or even at the tips of your fingers that also allows you to read this article right now. Nowadays, if you're not connected to the Internet, you're missing half of the experience (or so they say).
The Internet has changed so much about how the typical Gamer sees their gaming experience. It has changed the way they seek out information about a game, how they use or view the information, and even how they perform when using their new found knowledge.
For now, let's take a look back to the 80's. A time before Microsoft jumped into the video game console war in 2001, before Sony won over the industry with their first mainstream gaming console in 1994. Let's look at a time when information about video games was very few and far between. When you had to buy a monthly magazine at your local retailer that carried the particular gaming magazine that you sought after for what was going on in the mysterious realm known as the Video Game Industry.
In the 80's (and through the majority of the 90's), there were only a few options to get the scoop on the industry before possibly seeing a commercial for the particular game that was being pushed to the forefront. Magazines such as Computer and Video Games and Electronic Games were the first to hit the US Market. Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, and Nintendo Power were among the most popular magazines sold toward the end of the 80's. These were the three publications most sought after by young gamers looking for anything from tips, secrets, how to's, and coming soon's of the entire Gaming Industry. You would have to literally look at the cover of each issue to see if the game you wanted more in-depth info on was showcased in that issue,. If you hadn't found what you were looking for then, you'd have to wait for the next month's issue and hope something was in there. The need for more info sparked the later use of mini-guides that could be taken out of the middle of the magazine and were held together on their own as a small booklet for that game(s).
Being that these were of the most popular magazines available, you were getting your information from particular people that were dedicated to giving you the best that they could possibly offer. You had words quoted from one on one interviews with actual industry Big Shots and it came through the people that did nothing but immerse themselves into the industry (from an outside looking in perspective, but closer to the industry than we could get). For example, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or better known as E3, was something that I dreamed about going to, but all I could see were pictures that the Magazine Editor's brought back and were allowed to publish. So, what you learned about the industry came from only a few sources. As a gamer, your opinion was only a factor when it came to sales, or through a "Letter to the Editor" that they selected to publish. Other than that, your effect on everyone else that enjoyed games was very minimal.
So, let's fast-fowrard to the 90's. Video Game magazines are still a big deal and still the best source for info game related. However, there are now more options. Electronic Gaming Monthly has now expanded and created EGM2. An alternate magazine showcasing less of the wide spectrum of the industry, but intstead, focusing on fewer games but with more info on specific ones selected. Computer Gaming World and US Playstation Magazine are now including a demo disc with their magazines (making their magazines a little more expensive). Full blown strategy guides are now extremely popular. Nintendo is making their own full strategy guide books, Brady Games is taking their stance on the podium of top rated guides, and everyone seems to have a guide of some sort in their magazines.
The internet is starting to creep up into the industry ever so slightly. Id Software successfully created the famous FPS called Doom for the PC in 1993 which also features "Network" Co-op and Deathmatch modes for two to four players and was also able to later achieve "Online Multiplayer" through DWANGO's service. For a lot of gamers, Doom was the Call of Duty of the 90's but not so overly saturated. I personally finally played Doom on the SNES and was thrilled to finally feel like I was really inside the game, not just watching and controlling from afar. If I needed to find a way through the game, I would frantically search through my Uncle's massive Video Game Magazine collection for just a few pages of maps with items highlighted to that I knew where they were. Yes, in '93, the internet was still not in most people's homes. usually businesses would have the internet aside from having a Fax Machine as another way of communicating and staying up on the times. So massive multiplayer experiences made for great "What If" conversations among friends.
So at this point, people learned how to get better at games by playing their friends, reading their favorite gaming magazine / strategy guide books, and going to arcades. How has this changed? Well, in the 80's and 90's, people had to physically seek out knowledge about a game or just figure things out themselves via trial and error. So people are still doing a lot of footwork for themselves Well how is that if they have books to look it up?. You have words in guide or magazine, but no video. Not having video to physically see things played out made it hard to understand timing. Also, Understanding a 3D world on a 2d paper display still left something to be desired (being that the average gamer was use to 2D environments and 3D was still figuring itself out; like bizarre camera angles and such).
Now, fast-forward to the early 2000's. We have Sony teasing us about the future possibilities of the Playstation 2, Nintendo pushing The-Little-Purple-Box-That-Could, ie. the Gamecube, and Microsoft willing to take a direct stab and the Video Game Industry. At this point, Video Game Magazines are still around, but not as prevalent as they once were. Some of the gamers of yesterday are now growing out of gaming, some starting families and no longer have time to get better at gaming, and some are no longer in love with what the industry can offer. This happens in any Industry over a long period of time, hence why technology is a key factor in new advancements in the Video Game Industry.
So what did the Internet have to offer gamers in the early 2000's as apposed to the late 2000's? Well, the Internet wasn't the monster of overwhelming information for gaming then as it is now. To find a combo vid of a fighting game to get knowledge of new possibilities, there were very few sites dedicated to this. One was a site known as ComboVideos.com. They hosted a few videos at a time for games from Street Fighter Alpha 3 to the japanese Tobal 2. Also, the videos didn't instantly stream to your computer, you had to download the whole file. It could be an MP4. WMA, or AVI. You really didn't know until you downloaded it. It also took it's lovely time downloading before you could even watch it. If you needed info on anything Tekken, you went to TekkenZaibatsu.com (which is still fully functioning to this very day and I believe that Combovideos.com is now under the URL ComboVid.com). Now, these sites were hosted by some real hard core gamers. People that dedicated a lot of time to figuring out the games themselves and showing people that it was possible to achieve new things. The earliest person I ever knew of, going by their gamertag, was Cat Lord. Toward the end of highschool, my buddy and I would download videos that he'd host of him performing moves in Tekken Tag and Soul Calibur on his physical Arcade Machine. All we could hear were the clicks of the buttons, but that was Understanding Move Timing 101 for us. His objective was just to get people more into the fighting games that he enjoyed and to be able to understand them better.
Moving into the late 2000's, we've got Sony's Playstation 2 (with the $50 online adaptor that was originally included in the Japanese release of the console), Xbox introducing Xbox Live boasting about a cleaner gaming experience due to the sole use of broadband and scrapping the idea of dial-up, then into the development and launch of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii consoles. This is where I start to question the use of the internet when it comes to gamers. Even a subject like "Online Racism" wasn't a big issue at all until the Internet was more mainstream in the Industry. I remember playing Socom US Navy Seals on my ps2 for hours upon hours a day. One thing that was a trend was that If we found out that you were a racist, we all took turns team killing you until you left. It was an unspoken "You Understood" moral code that we played by. We didn't want someone's ignorance destroying the game and community we so dearly cherished. The respect level for what we enjoyed was very high and seeking out knowledge about what we loved to some effort on our part. Then the ground breaking website that still causes drama and controversy to this day joined the family. That site.... is known as YouTube.
Ah yes, YouTube. The one application that is now apart of every Current Gen Video Game Console. The true haven for the voice of people that need to be heard, as well as people that need not to be heard. Videos are so easily accessible through YouTube (via streaming video), what does that do? Well, it's made today's youth, aka the Gamers of Now, in a sense....lazy. Why would I say such a thing? What I've been explaining throughout this article is simply based on one theme. That theme, is "Ground Work". As we just learned, the gamers themselves had to do the majority of the ground work in the 80's and 90's. However, now YouTube is relied on for any and everything game related. Advertisements are all throughout it, guides are posted by anonymous people whom no one really knows, and reviews come from any and everybody through YouTube. Now, does this make YouTube the blame? No. If YouTube didn't start instantly streaming videos and making things more accessible, someone else would have incorporated the same Idea under a different name at a different time.
So, back to the gamers. I've gone and participated in quite a bit of fighting game tournaments (NJ and Philly), but I've noticed one thing that I can't shake the thought of when I look at the tournaments of today. Why does everybody play the exact same way? 0_o I mean, you have your Daigo, Justin Wong, Sanford Kelly, etc. They are considered Elite players , yes, but why are people trying so hard to play exactly like them? I understand that people want to win, that's not my issue, my issue is individuality. No one has there own style anymore!!! For example, In the SF4 series, just about everybody that plays Balrog (or Boxer), plays exactly the same, they've dubbed Ken the Flow Chart, and the differences between player's styles is very minimal between the characters. What I'm getting at is that todays gamers rely on YouTube / The Internet for too much now.
One other fine example of this is through playing the game Monster Hunter. Some of us at GVN are apart of a MH group called N00b Adventures in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Our CEO Robert Hubbs is the original creator of the group and we try to play as much as we can, given our busy lives. Why choose N00b to be apart of our title, because we all lack in overall MH experience. I believe that Anthony aka Protector is the only member that has played the entire American released series. I myself have 526 hours on just MH3U. I originally played MH3tri for about 56 hours but didn't know how to play very well. How did I learn to play better, I did the old school thing. I put more time into it! Yet, I'll waltz into an open lobby and people will tell me things like "You have the wrong armor on". Meanwhile, I have my def at 665, none of my element defs are lower than -9 and I have a couple good Great Swords to use when I please. They, on the other hand, will have only 554 def, +20 fire def (which is cool), but -33 dragon def, and -20 thunder def. My response is usually something like "Oh really?" Most of the American MH Community (from what I can tell) seems to be deathly afraid of having a mixed armor set and choose to only have armor from the same set. I guess they feel safer having what the full set offers, but I'm an artist. I draw, write stories, make music, etc. So adding a little bit of ME is very important to me. So when I go and strut my personal armor set, It's a ME thing. Aside from that, it's hilarious when people tell me that I have the wrong armor set, but then I'm the only one not dying during a quest. MH is not a game that completely explains itself on every little aspect in full detail, so the internet can be a great source of information. However, my problem stems from people relying on it for everything and never thinking for themselves.
This goes all throughout the gaming world it seems. Everybody does the same thing because somebody on the internet said that they should. Now, I know these people aren't complete idiots and there are a lot of genuine geniuses among them, so why is everybody letting other people choose their paths? Is it the Internet that should be to blame? Believe it or not, No! The Internet is going to be the Internet no matter what we do about it. It will exist until people stop relying on it for everything. I mean, seriously, even I have a Youtube channel. There's barely anything on it, but it still exists. But I don't have to be a mindless drone just because of it's existence. Be an individual! Stop being a statistic! Do You! For the love of gaming! Please! My goodness!
You'd be surprised at what changes to the Gaming Industry could happen if the relying of the internet became very minimal. So I ask you, the reader, how has the Internet affected your gaming experience? I'm talking about the good and the bad, the pros and the cons, the Highest and lowest points of your gaming experience. Also, what makes you an individual in your own right? Or are you a cyber-generated clone without realizing it?