The loop, that is to say the 'inner circle' of knowledge pertaining to any particular subject at present time, is a state in which you can find yourself feeling irrelevant on a near hourly basis. Attaining this continuous state of relevance involves a certain level of dedication towards a given subject, as further broadening your subject range can leave you susceptible to looplessness.
We as a community of 'Core Gamers' stay knowledgeable on the subject of specific games, systems or the broader spectrum of the games industry as a whole. We take into consideration current news and forecasts for platforms and software and form opinions based on the information we have to hand, gathered from sites like Destructoid, physical media or general community interaction. In doing so we are facilitating our own form of 'loop' that we connect with at regular intervals and recently to a greater degree, due to the proliferation of our digital lives on a mobile level.
The problem we face is that our loop at times will not align with that of the greater community, particularly with the release of new games or new platforms. In doing so this creates a form of community segregation, splitting the community between those in the know and those not. This divide brings with it a number of obstacles that those out of the loop must navigate in order to preserve what is fundamentally the heart of gaming, the experience. Our ability to experience a games narrative, it’s characters and world is hampered by the loop we perpetuate in the digital era.
The most recent example of this would be with the release of Bioshock Infinite, the latest in the highly rated Bioshock series by the guys and girls over at Irrational Games. The game is receiving extreme critical reception throughout the industry both at an editorial and community level. This in turn is backed by a marketing push with advertisements in all forms of media as well as word of mouth support from community members via blogs, podcasts and ‘Water cooler chat’.
Before a game is even released studios are putting out ‘behind the scenes’ coverage of their games so that they can get you on board the project from an early stage. We have trailers, teaser trailers and teaser trailers for teaser trailers slowly drip feeding us information as well as publicity events directed at the media who in turn will feed us that new information. So before the game is even released we are able to describe what this game is about and pitch it to our friends, family and loved ones without having even played it ourselves
Here in lies the problem. In participating in the community at large, aren’t you actively putting yourself at risk of loosing the core experience of the games you intend to play?
Take Easter eggs for example. They are a fun little addition by a developer for dedicated players who happen to discover them in game. This week, Games Radar put out a video that is doing the rounds in the community about secret messages in the ambient noise during sections of Bioshock Infinite. There are numerous game references and Easter eggs littered throughout Borderlands 2, which with a few days were being discussed on podcasts, vlogs and articles. While these discoveries are great little things for the community to discuss, does it not distill the magic of discovering them yourself in the context of the game?
The kind of information described in these articles of course goes in to spoiler territory, particularly when discussions converge on the nature of choices and outcomes presented to the player during games, a more recent example of this being the topic of TellTale’s The Walking Dead. I only recently got around to picking up the whole season last month and I haven’t started episode 4 yet. Immediately I knew I wanted to experience this game based on the reviews from both Destructoid and the community at large but due to a lack of time and money I was unable to jump on-board with everyone else. While the community was converging on what would be Game of the Year for most outlets, I was ducking and diving around discussion, articles and podcasts to make sure I am still able to enjoy the core experience.
Of course, there will always be someone who has completed a game before you as is the case with most things in life. While you may not know how the Mass Effect trilogy concludes it is important that you enjoy your time in that world, experiencing how the story comes to a close, for better or worse some may say. Just look at the retro community. Those games have been completed over and over, yet there is still a huge market for re-releases in some circles, as they bring the experience to a new audience while giving others the opportunity to relieve past memories.
The community side of the games industry can help extend the experiences you have with a game due to the interactive nature of the medium. How you interact with the community should not be to the detriment of the overall enjoyment of a gaming experience. With new technologies such as Sony’s PS4 and the implications of its social networking philosophy we will be seeing new ways to interact with both games and the community. How these new experiences will effect the way we play games is unknown but it will be important to keep the magic of discovery that permeates our pastime. read