I know what you’re thinking, that’s a pretty big statement to make. I don’t do so without A LOT of thought and also a fair heap of trepidation. So, before you jump on the hate wagon and starting sending me abusive tweets, just listen to a little, and very personal, anecdote of mine:
When I was a young budding Gamer, no older than 4, my parents got divorced. This meant a lot of uncertainly and instability in my life, but there is one thing I can clearly remember from this time in my life, my relationship with Games. I remember the time I got so engrossed in Super Mario World on the SNES that my Dad went out and didn’t even realise I wasn’t with him and the other children…or the time my Uncle Kevyn let me play Resident Evil on the Playstation…
However, all these things aside, there is one incident that sticks out poignantly in my mind. I grew up living with my Mum, Step-Dad and Siblings, but had regular contact with my Dad, mostly through telephone conversations. It was during one of these telephone calls that my Dad said something to me that made my eyes light up with absolute glee:
“X, Triangle, Circle, X, X, Square, Circle”
It was a cheat code for a game whose name, for the better part of 20 years, has been completely lost to memory. It may have been Spyro the Dragon, or it may have been something less exotic. Anyhow, this was the first time I had held the golden key of a Cheat Code in my hand. I knew they existed, from the hastily shown gaming magazines that my friends had pilfered from their Dads and had braved to bring to school, but this was the first time one had been handed to me, truly and wholly. As alien as it may seem to some of our younger readers, this is how we swapped cheats and tips.
Cheat Codes and Easter Eggs were sacred years ago. I know at least two of my great friends, Jago2K and xxGRIMWARxx who can still recite from memory the button combination that turns on the blood effects in Mortal Kombat. And if you ever need the cheat code for any iteration of The Sims my own little sister, Kat, is like a walking compendium of cheats (Motherlode…mofo!)
And my personal favourite, is from the Alien Triology on PlayStation. “1gotp1nk8cidbootson” The code that when entered in to the password screen granted Infinite everything and made you pretty much invulnerable. Again, this code came to me from a friend, who had seen his Dad using it, after he was told about it by a colleague at work. Imagine my small mind being blown when this code actually worked!! Even better, there is still a few sites out there referencing this cheat code…
So to move away from my Childhood before you get too comfortable, I want to talk about the actual problem at hand here. Has the Internet Ruined Video Games? The availability of information online has changed the way we game forever. I saw an article this morning written on another prominent Game Site, talking about a hidden boss that can be found in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. It was strange article to read, because I found myself wondering whether the person who had created this Boss, and put them in the game, had intended for me to find this because someone else made a YouTube video showing me how to.
The rise and rise of YouTube has really changed the way we see everything in modern gaming society. YouTube videos can be anything, from Game Guides; to Game Reviews; to Game Play Highlights; to Game Satire and Critique. It has connected our worlds together in a way that was previously unimaginable. Are you stuck on that Boss fight? No worries, just bash it into YouTube and you almost guarantee that someone, somewhere has compiled a “How to Defeat **INSERT BOSS NAME HERE** Easily!!”. I am not afraid to admit that I am guilty of using such guides in some pretty hairy boss fights in Dark Souls. But has this helped define us as Gamers or has it destroyed a little bit of the achievement that it was to defeat that Boss or find that rare item, or unlock that hidden character…
I suppose the question I am asking is, has the Internet made gaming too easy? Please don’t misunderstand me here. There are several games out there, such as FIFA or Street Fighter, that take a A LOT of time, dedication and practice to master, especially in competitive arenas. These games stand as a last bastion where no amount of watching YouTube videos will allow you to beat that guy who keeps slamming you down every week at Fight Night…it will improve your game, as you watch and learn, but this still needs to be translated into practice. I speak from experience here. I was a complete Novice at Street Fighter a few weeks ago, and now I am watching videos on how people are playing the characters they like and trying to emulate what they are doing. It is hard work.
Another brilliant example is Destiny and more specifically, the Marmite flavored Loot Cave. The rise (and eventual crush) of the Loot Cave is incredible. If you were to trace this back, someone, somewhere, found this exploit and then shared this with his friends. He then shared it with his friends and then she uploaded a video on YouTube. Pretty soon, millions of people are frequenting the Loot Cave. Articles are written, arguments made, statements put forth and then Bungie steps in and patches it. Total up time? 2 weeks. Tops. That is incredible. The speed that the information was able to travel and then be sorted out is incredible when you really sit down and think how fast the information has transferred.
This is concurrent with another great example from, Destiny, The Vault of Glass. This was pitched as the hardest thing to come to casual gaming for a while. You need 6 friends. You have 1 week to complete the run or your progress gets wiped. We’re talking a mission that takes a fucking week. And then it was done. A team of 6 became the first people to defeat the Raid and before long, others joined them. And then it began. I have never attempted The Vault of Glass, yet I can tell you how to open the doors to the Vault and the basic structure of the vault. Double Edged sword, but thank you, Internet?
The new Smash Bros. is a perfect example of how to divide opinion with the Internet. Many voices online has vocied the opinion that the game does not weigh the same as, finding the hdden characters, is no longer fun because they are hidden. This comes in the sense that if I want to unlock say, Zero Suit Samus, the internet provides the wealthy repository of videos, guides, wikis to satisfy that need. So when you turn to Bob, and say, “Hey Bob! Guess who I unlocked last night…” the answer is more than likely to be a resounding, “Meh…”.
I’m not choosing any side on this debate, I’m more lighting the touch paper, closing my eyes and jamming my fingers as far in my ears as far as they will go. But my question, I pitch to you, is this, would you prefer to live in a world where special achievements in games are diluted and your Nan could do it, follwing the right guide. Or would you prefer to live in a world where the sacred status of Easter Eggs is restored where you would be lauded as a Hero for finding that building that **kind of** looks like Master Chief in Destiny…