Living in the information age has its advantages. But sometimes there can be a downside to it, as well.

In the early days, we went through each game with a fair amount of thoroughness. Strategy guides (a.k.a hint books) were few and far between; the market wasn’t big enough to make them really feasible.

The lucky few who were online then were able to help each other out, exchange details, and discover every little secret a game had to offer. Today, we have a very different situation.

PR for a game begins early, and over time a vast amount of information is released about the product, before it ever hits the stands. Once the game is out, the forums boil over with a posting fury.

Before long, all that piecemeal info is collected and appears on various fan sites. Easy links to this or that page with all the details about the armor, weapons, critters, plot, and just about everything else.

Simply by reading that stuff, you know so much about the game, you hardly need to play it. What I think is worse, though, is that it impels players onward, not so much for the story or gameplay, as for the goodies.

Hey, we all like to get our hands on Neat Items. But I suspect we don’t appreciate them as much as we used to, mainly because we know that, just a little ways up ahead, there’s a secret cache with a really great sword/axe/bow/whatever.

Now, every experienced gamer “way back when” knew that treasure got better the farther along you went. However, we didn’t know where or when that would be. So when we found that “sword +2” or “Helm of Fire Resistance”, it was wonderful. It really meant something to have that item.

Now, though, you can read a forum, a fan site, a walkthru, and know where all the really good things are. “Wow, you found a +50 Sword Of Instant Death? Where? How? That’s a lot better than this crumby +10 Sword Of Freezing”.

Yeah, there’s nothing like catering to greed, and games have trained us well to be greedy. And when you know where the best equipment can be found, it’s almost impossible to be patient. Or appreciative of what you have already.

So when I think about that, and about how much general information can be obtained so easily, I have to wonder: is this deluge of details part of what makes most games seem so much “same-old, same-old”?

Of course, a good number are that way to begin with. Even so, it seems to me that what causes that feeling of familiarity (or over-familiarity), or intensifies it, is the amount of knowledge we have before even installing the product.

And is that one of the main reasons games don’t seem to be as much fun anymore? Because everything has been discovered about it, so we no longer have the joy of exploration, or of finding “Neat Items” on our own?

There are instances when knowing about the game and its mechanics can be helpful. But I think that some of the edge, the fun, is lost because we just have too much information.