Back in those “good old days”, game information was hard to come by. Few resources existed to help frustrated players. Over at The Escapist this week, Rob Zacny looks at how this has changed.

And it has changed a great deal. As Rob points out, there are “super players” who know a game inside out, upside down, and backwards and forwards. They can spot bugs, design flaws, deficiencies, cheap tricks and any other problem almost in their sleep.

They also know how to work a game to best advantage, all the techniques, the optimum min/max strategies, the “golden path” to success with the least amount of effort.

All that and more is easily available to any gamer, thanks to the Internet. Rob is of two minds about this enormous information base. On the one hand, it certainly helps people get through the games. No matter where you’re stuck, a solution is probably available somewhere.

On the other hand, he worries that game players are turning into “amateur game designers”. Instead of playing for fun, they’re looking at the code, the mechanics, the actual play, with an analytical eye.

At bottom, though, he considers this a good thing, if it means better games. I agree with that, and also think he may be worried a bit too much about those “amateur game designers”.

That’s really a very small group, the hardest of the “hard core”. Consider, for instance, Fallout 3. How many of the millions who bought it went online to the forums, or a fan site? My guess is, not a whole lot. Maybe not even a tenth.

The message boards, the fan sites, these are mainly for the dedicated players, who form a small subset of the audience as a whole. So while some get into the “nitty gritty” of a game, the majority are, I believe, content to play the game as it is, and play it for fun. Even if they need a helping hand now and then.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_193/5850-The-Lonely-Crowd”>The Lonely Crowd on The Escapist