So I'm looking at gaming resources this time and trying to find out the objective of these gaming websites and how they may help us promote transnational play. I have used a lot of these resources before (Escapist, Gamasutra, Kotaku, Gamespot) but there are others which I have heard about have not visited (Penny Arcade), so I went to these sites to see what topics they covered and who visited these sites.
Many of the sites focused on the gaming consumer. Kotaku in particular posed a question
to gaming consumers on whether or not games today should be region locked
. The great majority of visitors said no, with a couple even saying that since the question was obviously posed on a website for consumers, the answer would obviously be a resounding no. It was quite easy actually to search through all the sites for certain games and information. Whether I visited the Escapist, Kotaku, Gamusutra, all of them had a convenient search tool at the top of a page which allowed me to enter in any search word and look up any and all articles relating to the search term I entered. It took me only a few seconds to find that discussion topic in Kotaku about region locking.
As far as topics that are covered or addressed in each website, there are actually a lot of different areas each website covers. Kotaku and Gamasutra focus more on user's take on gameplay mechanics, game design
and gaming news
. Kotaku and Gamusutra focus more on gaming culture than on informing game consumers whether or not they should buy a certain game. Gamespot and IGN.com actually cover this area. Any and all games that come out are reviewed on this site and many users visit these sites to figure out whether or not they want to purchase a newly released game. While the four sites above specifically cover either game reviews or game or gaming culture, The Escapist actually does a little of both. It has game reviews
, but it also covers gaming culture as well. One writer actually discusses the issue of transnational play and region locking
. There are certainly plenty of gaming resources for people to visit, but not all of them focus on the same gaming areas as I initially imagined.
As far as covering the two games we will be playing in class, Free Realms and Dungeons and Dragons Online, there are a couple entries on sites regarding these two games. Most note the great growth
of Free Realms since it was first released. Many of the resources on Dungeons and Dragons online discuss the recent delay to Septembe
r and the Free-to-play system
that Dungeons and Dragons will run under. I found a couple sources that covered the growth of Free Realms in greater detail. IGN.com actually reviewed
the game and noted that while gameplay does get repetitive if a player tries to level up in just one job (which I also realized after desperately trying to level up to a level 10 ninja), the gameplay of Free Realms actually has a lot of variety. Penny Arcade
actually describes the Free Realms quite accurately.
As noted above, there is a lot of discussion over gaming becoming increasingly popular globally, while I got very few hits on the term transnational play, I did find note that many people were arguing over this issue of region locking. However, much of the discussion was pretty one-sided due to the fact that the main visitors to these websites were gaming consumers. Obviously, gaming consumers have no reason to support the idea of region locking especially if they import a game from another country and realize they cannot play the game due to region locking. This website outlines the arguments
regarding region lockout. I tend to side with the gaming consumers on this one, especially considering some solutions consumers have come up with to this region lockout issue. As wikipedia outlines, there are firmwares and hacks that consumers can use to mod their system to play these games. While abroad in China, I actually spoke with a local gamer. He said since games were so expensive in China, many just modified their systems so that they could play illegal bootlegs which were far cheaper than actually buying a region-based game. I feel the industry stands to lose a lot more if they continue to region lock their games. Obviously the business side of video games makes this issue much more complex, but it is an issue game developers should consider as games become much more popular globally.
Here is another resource on the issues of region lockout
Finally, one other issue to look out for is advertising. While the Escapist, Kotaku, and Gamasutra, do not really have prominent ads on their websites, the much more "corporate" sites such as Gamespot and IGN.com do. Gamespot in particular ran into trouble with very prominent ads for a game called Kane and Lynch
. The problem wasn't with the ad's themselves, but the game review
that followed this advertising. Basically, the reviewer and chief editor at the time, Jeff Gerstmann, heavily criticized the game and was fired shortly afterwar
d. There is no proof that he was fired for this negative review but many still wonder why he was terminated soon after reviewing the game. This incident poses an interesting question about the fine line between making a popular game and making a game that pushes our minds as far as conceptualizing gameplay: Are game developers free to be creative or are we going to end up with games that all use similar gameplay mechanics? Interesting question to ponder especially since video games are becoming more and more popular worldwide. Just check out the recent gaming convention in Seattle
One thing I would keep in mind about the resources is that while all of these sites have discussion forums, I would focus on the forums that initiate discussion among its many visitors such as Kotaku or the Escapist. From what I've seen, there are plenty of gamers out there, and many of them have an opinion. I believe there are a couple global gamers on these sites as well. I feel promoting transnational play first goes through the consumers. They play the games, they buy the games. The best thing to do is to utilize the discussion boards on these sites.