Do we gamers know too much about games before they are released? And does all this information we are provided with actually alter our judgements and decisions too much and potentially ruin our enjoyment? Well that's what I am about to discuss with you lucky reader.
In this age of technology and instant news, information on video games is widely available and the methods of which that information is presented has never been so vast and varied. Back before the emergence and wide scale use of the Internet, gamers main and usually only source of information was dedicated magazines. These were usually produced monthly and acted as compendium of all that had happened in the gaming world since the last issue.
The "frequency" of each issue meant games would often receive bits and pieces of coverage but nothing to the extent at which they receive now. So when a game was released naturally players had some indication of what to expect but the element of surprise still existed when picking up a new game.
Now with constant news and information updates, videos, streaming and the use of social networks amongst other things, players have a greater knowledge and understanding of what to expect from a game than ever before. But is this necessarily a good thing?
Naturally gaming websites, journalists, enthusiasts, etc have a duty and an interest in keeping readers/viewers up to date, informed and entertained and if they were not to inform their audience regarding every aspect of game, particularly if it is a hotly anticipated title, then they may find said audience looking elsewhere for such content.
The issue I take with having all this information at hand, is that it can alter our own preconceptions and judgements on games, for better or for worse, and it can also lessen the sense of discovery gamers often feel when playing a game.
No Man's Sky is a game many are looking forward to, myself being one of them. Not too much was known about the game, bar the occasional video and article, up until recently when a hole host of information, media, features and articles seemed to descend upon the Internet, ready to be gobbled up by anyone interested. I resisted the urge to read and watch everything I could because I'm looking forward to the journey of discovery myself, I want to find things out myself, not to be told them and knowing what to aspect
A game like No Man's Sky is based in the on the premise of the certainty of the unknown, the joys and perils of exploration, therefore I want to feel like I am on a new, exciting pioneering adventure, one that no one else has been on before. Sometimes seeing a game in action too much before playing it can make the actual experience feel too familiar; like you have almost been there and done that before.
It can be argued that being a new game that No Man's Sky needs a large amount of coverage so gamers understand the premise of the game and what happens in it. I agree, but some games I feel benefit from knowing a little less and I believe No Mans Sky is one of these, just one look at a screenshot, a sample of the music and a quick video is enough for me to know I will enjoy this experience (although I could be wrong).
The Division is another prime example for me when too much information was bad thing, and it ultimately stopped me from getting the game. Now this information could have actually helped me make a wise decision and it probably may have, but the point I want to make here is I feel what I read and saw severely altered my thoughts towards the game and would have influenced my opinion greatly when playing it.
I was eagerly awaiting The Division but a month or so before and leading up its launch the internet was awash with details on the game. Every day there seemed to be a new article or piece of detail published about the game. This can increase gamers excitement and build up hype, but for me it had the exact opposite effect, I actually became fatigued and somewhat bored with the game before I had even played it such was the extensive coverage.
I know what you are thinking "You do realise you don't have to read or watch anything you don't want to?" I do indeed, and I try use my best judgement and balance the amount of information my brain receives and the depth of discovery I will potentially experience when playing. That being said words can have a strong influence on our thoughts and once an idea, an opinion, etc burrows in your head it can be hard to remove it.
In terms of the Division it was the reviews that put me off; with conflicting opinions on how good the game actually was but what really struck me was in some reviews, the comments of how empty the city often felt, how mundane some of the objectives were and how the dark zone was arguably the only truly interesting area. I had high hopes for The Division, I got caught up in the hype and expected more than what the game turned out to be. However if I had not read as much as I had I may still have bought the game and my experience would not have been "tainted" with thoughts of bullet sponge enemies or lifeless environments.
I'm probably sounding a bit hypocritical here as I fully acknowledge the importance of articles, features, reviews, etc they help us as gamers shape and make decisions. Possibly we depend on such sources too much but when we are not sure what to expect, having some prior knowledge is always useful. I never probably would have bought Ratchet and Clank if it had not been for a glowing review and seeing the game in action, again its a fine balance of knowing enough and knowing too much.
So I will leave this with you reader. I love reading about games but I feel we must moderate what we intake. Naturally this all depends on yourself, maybe you want to know everything there is and thats completely fine. But I challenge you to embrace un-expectancy and discovery, not to be afraid of the relative unknown. I mean everyone likes a surprise now and then don't they?
Over to you fine folks now; whats your opinion on all this information available at our finger tips? Can knowing too much ruin a game? Do you enjoying playing games with little prior knowledge? Please feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading you can see more of my wares here www.thegamingbear.wordpress.com, until next time have and play games.