Home > Uncategorized > The Wikiddiction of Online Games

The Wikiddiction of Online Games

It seems nowadays that any online game—or really any production of popular culture—worth its salt has at least one Wiki: Eve Online, World of Warcraft (you knew I was going to mention it), Final Fantasy, the Matrix, Game of Thrones.

This isn’t surprising. The most captivating games, like the most compelling books, movies, even paintings or pieces of music, are ones that draw you into their worlds in such a way that you can’t completely pull yourself out, even when you’re not playing. A guitar riff on the radio might call up a snatch of the opening theme; an interesting building facade, a glimpse of your favorite dungeon; a certain laugh, memories of the villain’s last cut scene—the game wraps itself around your mind, seeping into the deep reaches of your reward centers like a dopaminergic drug. And this addictive condition, this beautiful enslavement to something otherworldly, makes you want more. You stretch your mind and memory to the edges of the game world’s contours and hunger for knowledge about its unseen histories, backstories, possibilities. And at the same time, you brim with yearning to actualize the lovely excitement that the game inspires, to heighten its presence by making it explicit and recognized by others. You need a massive data reservoir to provide the answers you seek, and, at the same time, some concrete project into which to bleed off all this wild creative energy.

And what better place to feed both curiosity and creativity than the game Wiki?

Read the life histories of secondary, tertiary, hardly mentioned or nonexistent characters. Hypothesize about the drop rates of your favored items in every possible scenario. Publish your fan fiction to a steady stream of hungry visitors. Feast on a cornucopia of screenshots, concept art, fan art, and myriad perspectives on every corner of the universe you just can’t get out of your head. And express your effusive excitement about these discoveries by writing about them. Unlike physical guides, Wikis are cheap to store and can be filled to bursting: The Guild Wars Wiki alone has more than 17,000 pages, despite being an unofficial fan-based supplement to the official version—try fitting that onto a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble without taking out the Amazon (rainforest, that is). And unlike official online novice guides, Wikis can turn over new data from tergiversating game worlds just as fast as the data are produced by frequent updates and expansion packs: A quick glance at the World of Warcraft Wiki activity page shows a steady stream of new content added about every ten minutes. And, the best part is, the data come from you, the players hungering to mesh the world of your beloved games ever more tightly with the other aspects of your lives.

For a game to be successful, it has to be become an identity-defining lifestyle for at least some of its players. And by offering not only a massive amount of satisfying input but also ample opportunities for creative output, Wikis are a powerful tool for actualizing this scenario.

So why don’t y’all just step over and give the Imperial Warfare Wiki a nice big hug?


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