In the distant past, circa. 1995, before the widespread uptake of the internet, weekly or monthly gaming magazines were the go-to source for video game guides. These were often officially-sanctioned magazines that were getting cheats, tips, and walkthrough advice direct from developers or Q&A testers (remember when that wasn’t you?). It got the job done but it felt sterile.
Though it wasn’t the first time the concept of a “wiki” was created (the Hawaiian word for "quick"), Wikipedia was launched in January 2001, kickstarting an upsurge in web-based repositories of knowledge. Around 2004, there was a massive increase in the number of available wikis, covering hundreds of topics, and – most importantly for gamers – the upcoming 7th generation of consoles would see hundreds of dedicated wikis pop up for both major and niche franchises.
Though each wiki had several assigned moderators and editors, they were largely driven by community engagement. Suddenly, we had a platform that we could turn to for information about a game that had a personal touch. Rather than a bland list of cheat codes and basic “tips and tricks”, we had a platform on which gamers could document their own discoveries as the played, and provide endless speculation on everything from the mathematics behind loot drop rates in an action-RPG, to the deeper meaning of the story in a narrative-driven title.
I spent the entirety of the last generation trawling the wiki pages of my favourite games, not only for hidden secrets, collectible locations, and achievement guides, but for all the user-driven speculation around the game itself. You could spend hours perusing annotated fan-made maps for the sprawling Elders Scrolls and Fallout games. The Bioshock games were a gold mine of environmental storytelling, with players combing every inch of Rapture and Columbia to speculate how things fell apart. Horror games were favourite of mine, with no shortage of wiki pages documenting Alma sightings in the F.E.A.R. games or the hidden details in Isaacs’ hallucinations in the Dead Space games.
For the all the complaints by publishers last gen that single-player games lacked some sort of component that encouraged player interaction and continued engagement, these wikis were performing that function without their input. Sadly, this trend seems to be dying away – perhaps simply supplanted by YouTube videos and unnavigable comment threads – and only certain modern games have a dedicated fanbase that still update and service their wikis (any of the ‘Souls games are a great example).
With that in mind, my question to the community is do you still use gaming wikis? Are they still your favourite source of information on cheats, secrets, and collectibles? If not, what sources do you turn to these days?
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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