Net Effect — Has The Internet Made It Better or Worse to be a Gamer?

So, as we established recently, I’m an old man who’s been playing video games for a long time, and nothing’s had as big an impact on gaming during the 25-years I’ve been at it as the Internet. The Internet’s changed nearly every aspect of being a gamer, but have the changes been for the better?

Being an old crank, my knee-jerk reaction is to scream “NO!” while shaking my fist at nothing in particular, but that wouldn’t make for much of an article. So instead, I’m going to look at various facets of being a gamer and decide in each case whether they were better before or after the Internet irrevocably changed them. Hit the jump for my findings…

Getting Hyped

Before Internet

If there’s one thing gamers like more than actually playing video games, it’s obsessing over games that haven’t come out yet. Before the Internet was widespread there was basically three sources for news about upcoming games…

a) Gaming magazines and their tantalizingly vague descriptions and stamp-sized grainy screenshots.

b) The back pages of the Sears Wishbook.

c) That kid in your class you didn’t really like, but who had a dad who worked at Nintendo who told him that Super Mario 4, 5 and 6 already exited in Japan and were totally coming out here really soon.

This was the only book I cared about as a kid.

All three sources were generally considered equally reliable. Every schoolyard rumor, Sears misprint or bit of shoddy game mag journalism was treated as if could be, and probably was, true. Your mind was constantly a stew of half-truths, misinformation and excitement.

After Internet

Every game big and small is exhaustively covered from the moment development begins until it hits shelves. By the time you finally get your hands on a game you’ve seen dozens of videos, hundreds of screenshots and know exactly how it plays. Kids who try to pull the “my dad works at Nintendo” routine get laughed off the playground because, come on, wouldn’t Kotaku have reported on a Super Mario 5 where Mario teams up with Sonic to fight the Decepticons? I mean, really.

The Verdict

I’m tempted to say things were more mysterious and exciting back in the day, but that’s just me doing that old person “dating was better when it took a year to get to first base!” thing, where you claim the crap you had to go through was more challenging and fun because f–k the kids today and their gaming blogs and their sexting.

In reality knowing when a game’s coming out, and something about how it plays before you buy it is quite helpful. I definitely wouldn’t have DecapAttack and Castlevania 2 sitting around in a box somewhere if I’d had the Internet back in the 80s and early 90s.

Winner – A.I.

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