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Wikipedia Games

Wikipedia and the History of Gaming 240

Wired is running a story about Wikipedia's tremendous contribution to documenting the history of video games, and why it shouldn't necessarily be relied upon. Quoting: "Wikipedia requires reliable, third-party sources for content to stick, and most of the sites that covered MUDs throughout the ’80s were user-generated, heavily specialized or buried deep within forums, user groups and newsletters. Despite their mammoth influence on the current gaming landscape, their insular communities were rarely explored by a nascent games journalist crowd. ... while cataloging gaming history is a vitally important move for this culture or art form, and Wikipedia makes a very valiant contribution, the site can’t be held accountable as the singular destination for gaming archeology. But as it’s often treated as one, due care must be paid to the site to ensure that its recollection doesn’t become clouded or irresponsible, and to ensure its coalition of editors and administrators are not using its stringent rule set to sweep anything as vitally relevant as MUDS under the rug of history."
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Wikipedia and the History of Gaming

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  • Re:then? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <pgunn01@gmail.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:07AM (#34938046) Homepage Journal

    I would hope it would be deleted immediately. Forums are not reputable sources, and old/obscure games are not notable.

  • by Grokmoo ( 1180039 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:13AM (#34938066)

    There is no requirement that something be written about in an academic source to be included in wikipedia. Any reputable source will generally do, including newspapers and magazines in most cases.

    Any game that had a substantial influence shaping the development of gaming is worthy of inclusion. That doesn't mean that it won't be difficult to find good sources to back up the argument that it was in fact influential.

  • Sources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kellyb9 ( 954229 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:21AM (#34938114)
    If it were more culturally or socially relevant, there probably would have been more sources out there. Sounds like a small community of people are upset that nobody took the time to write about their favorite game.
  • Wikia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oiron ( 697563 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:27AM (#34938144) Homepage


    Eventually, the community decided to move on, and founded MUD Wiki, a Wikia dedicated to the genre.

    Exactly! I'd expect to find specific information about obscure Star Trek characters (even those I consider important for some obscure reason) on Memory Alpha, and not in Wikipedia. A link from main Wikipedia to the MUD wiki, explaining that more information is available there seems appropriate. IIRC, such things have been done in other Wiki articles...

    What's the fuss about?

  • by sourcerror ( 1718066 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:31AM (#34938166)

    What about Franko the crazy revenge [youtube.com]? (NSFW) I would doubt gaming newspapers would be keen to write about it. It also doesn't help that it's in Polish.
    I could argue that with its brutal realism/cynism it was a forerunner for GTA.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mvar ( 1386987 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:35AM (#34938204)
    and old/obscure games are not notable.

    a pottery bowl wasn't notable 2000 years ago but now we show them off in museums
  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:36AM (#34938212) Homepage Journal

    old/obscure games are not notable

    Why not? Do they have to be both old and obscure to not be notable, or simply one or the other? There are many obscure games that have notable qualities for things like being the first in some genre, or first to implement some now well known concept.

    What about this article on "Computer Space" [wikipedia.org]. I'd never even heard of this game until right now, but it was the world's first coin operated video game. I think that's pretty notable. What about Karate Champ [wikipedia.org]? I found it on Wikipedia last week after someone mentioned the developer here on Slashdot. I'd never heard of this game, but it was the first ever side view beat'em up. Again, I think that's pretty notable.

    You might not be interested in gaming history, but a lot of people are, and will be.

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by j0nb0y ( 107699 ) <jonboy300@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:50AM (#34938294) Homepage

    Many obscure games have been highly influential. The entire rogue-like genre is obscure, but has been extremely influential in games like Diablo.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@nOspAm.world3.net> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:56AM (#34938340) Homepage Journal

    The "not notable" argument is bullshit anyway. When Wikipedia started one of the main principals was that "Wikipedia is not paper", i.e. there is no limit to the amount of information and relevant material should never be removed on the grounds of brevity or it not being notable enough. Somewhere along the lone the deletionists got that changed and started burning articles as fast as they could.

    I can see no reason why Wikipedia should not have an article on almost any subject, no matter how obscure, so long as there is reasonable reference material to base it on. First hand accounts by those involved who went on to write web sites should be permissible when they do not appear biased. Editors have to decide on that, not just make up absolute rules and use them to diminish Wikipedia.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:59AM (#34938358) Homepage Journal

    and don't even get started on what get its own page in Wikipedia. Their editors are more than a bit fickle. One growing issue is the apparent changing of how they handle hybrid cars. Apparently someone got their panties into a bunch and has declared what hybrid/alternative fuel vehicles deserve their own page and which ones do not, see the related article at http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/19/electric-car-pages-on-wikipedia-in-danger-of-disappearing/ [autoblog.com]

    Anime characters, episodes of such series, music artists, individual songs, all those things have warranted their own pages. It all comes down to, which editor did you run afoul of and how good of week did they have.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:02AM (#34938376)

    Wikipedia is lousy for a lot of recent history precisely because (as soon as you drift away from relatively mainstream stuff) so little of it has been documented elsewhere on the web - I've seen plenty of articles myself which I'm 100% certain are factually inaccurate, and I can name the inaccuracies - but I can't find an appropriate citation. So any correction I make is likely to have a very limited life expectancy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:53AM (#34938762)

    Something must be notable *and* written about in a reputable academic source in order to be appropriate content for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a place for people who want to publish new material, no matter how important it is that there be such publication. It's good to see that there are specialised wikis for ad-hoc history projects of MUDs - that's appropriate, and it avoids all these issues of notability and original content.

    Just because a task is worthwhile/important doesn't mean Wikipedia is the right place for it.

    This, quite frankly, is sheer rubbish, and it's really sad that it got modded to +5 - and even sadder that a lot of Wikipedia editors and admins today share this view.

    Remember the fuss about Mzoli's [wikipedia.org]? If not, basically, this was an article that Jimbo Wales started; some admin speedy-deleted it pretty much right away for much the same reasons you cite, and the whole thing eventually ballooned into a big discussion of what Wikipedia is about, with various kinds of fallout [wikipedia.org].

    I think the following reply to Jimbo from the admin who speedy-deleted the article is enlightening:

    With all due respect, I was merely pointing out that some users seem to place a higher importance on your edits over any others. Had this article not been authored by you, my speedy deletion never would have been overturned.

    Indeed, he's right: if it hadn't been Jimbo that had written the article, it would have been deleted without even so much as a discussion, and that would've been it. Bang, case closed. Where he errs is in the assumption that this would've been right: fact is, Jimbo's article was (rightly) kept in the end, but if anybody else writes a similar article, chances are it'll be deleted.

    That's not what Wikipedia was about, and it's absolutely sad that people like this guy, people like YOU, have any power to say what is or isn't appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia.

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:56AM (#34938796)
    Only because so few of them remain. If every bowl made in the last 2000 years still existed in tact, nobody would put them in museums. Similarly, preserving every game, regardless of merit or noteworthiness devalues all games.
  • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:01AM (#34938846)

    And 2000 years ago nobody thought anyone in a museum in 2000 years would give a fuck about their shitty beer mug.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:10AM (#34938942) Homepage

    Nobody is accessing Wikipedia by looking at an index of all the pages it contains, but by using search and search doesn't care if there are millions of other unrelated pages around.

    And no, the "rest of the internet" is not the solution, people go to Wikipedia because they want a consistent interface, NPOV, references and all those other qualities that the rest of the internet does generally not provide.

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:17AM (#34939044)

    You clearly aren't involved with wikipedia. Anyone who is remotely involved in anti-vandalism and article clean-up knows how much crap people try to shovel into wikipedia on a daily basis. I mean, besides the obvious trolls and vandals who add all sorts of puerile comments to articles, there is a constant barrage of articles being created on all sorts of absurd subjects, such as spam articles on small irrelevant companies which have just been founded, local wannabe models who managed to pay a semi-professional photographer to take a couple of amateurish photos of them, garage bands which were created last week by a set of teens that don't even own any instruments, etc etc etc...

    And these are only a few examples of the obvious, clear cut trash which popped into wikipedia in the couple of minutes it took me to write this post. Now, extrapolate that to any time frame you wish to imagine. Imagine how much crap that amounts.

    Another thing that you fail to understand is that there isn't a horde of meanies who are single-handedly deleting articles off of wikipedia. Wikipedia established a long time ago a democratic process. A user cannot delete articles. The only thing a user can do is nominate an article for deletion. Then, the fate of that article is decided after a week-long discussion among users, who vote on what to do with the article. There is no "deletionist" policy, only discussion among peers to decide what to do with articles covering all sorts of questionable issues. Have any doubt? Then look for yourself and discover Wikipedia's process to delete articles [wikipedia.org]. You only need a valid account to vote, so put your money where your mouth is.

    On top of that, people like you must understand what would wikipedia's fate be if the community didn't imposed some sort of filter on the changes being committed to their articles. To put it quite bluntly, wikipedia would be the new geocities, where 95% of the pages were filled with complete crap. This sort of criticism targetted at how wikipedia's community manages wikipedia's articles boils down to the belief that no one should ever touch your pet article, no matter the intention and no matter how absurd it may be. And that is no way to manage a knowledge repository which some people try to make it to be useful enough as a reference.

  • Re:Wikia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:29AM (#34939180) Homepage

    Lets look up Wikipedia on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    Wikipedia seeks to create a summary of all human knowledge in the form of an online encyclopedia. Since it has virtually unlimited disk space it can have far more topics than can be covered by any conventional print encyclopedias.

    Ok, so how the fuck does the whole "randomly delete stuff that doesn't make it over an arbitrary notability hurdle" fit into that premise? How is deleting stuff from Wikipedia and moving it to a commercially hosted website outside of Wikipedia fixing the issue?

    I am certainly not going to donate any more money when the stuff I am interesting in has to be found in a Wiki that isn't even part of Wikipedia.

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nem75 ( 952737 ) <jens@bremmekamp.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:53AM (#34939494)

    The pottery bowl represents probably about 0.0001% of the items that were available during its given century of origin. Most of the other items from that specific time frame are not known to us anymore. As soon as the obscure game is the only game known from its time, it will be notable. Which probably needs some milleniae to pass and knowledge about our civilization to disappear almost completely, before the game is rediscovered. But not necessarily.

    Its not primarily about age, its about how much is known about a decade/century/era in general. If 2000 years pass and about all computer games from the 80s are still known by then, the obscure game will still be ... well, obscure. And only marginally more notable than it is today.

  • Re:then? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HarrySquatter ( 1698416 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:36PM (#34940772)

    Yes it is, because being in Wikipedia is no longer an indication of noteworthiness.

    So what? Other than to boost some elitist attitude I don't see why this even matters.

    Please try reading my post before you reply so I don't have to repeat myself.

    I have read your post. It's nonsensical and your logic is entirely circular.

    The notable topics are still there, but being there no longer indicates that they are notable, so how do you tell the difference?

    Through my own judgement? I don't need someone else to filter things for me, I have a functioning brain that can do that for me.

    And why act like Wikipedia is the sole repository for all human knowledge?

    Because that's what Jimmy Wales is trying to claim Wikipedia is supposed to be?

    Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing. -- Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation

    One can not be the "sum of all human knowledge" without including the "sum of all human knowledge". I hate to break it to you, but the sum of all human knowledge contains vast amounts of things that you would call "non notable".

    If your pet topic isn't included in Wikipedia, then go start your own Wiki for it (as lots of people already have for any number of specialized topics).

    Ah yes the tired argument that if you are against the deletionist horde it must be because you've had some personal article deleted. Sorry, bro, that's just not true.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gknoy ( 899301 ) <<moc.smetsysizasana> <ta> <yonkg>> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @01:08PM (#34941298)

    Why should "non-notable" articles be removed? What's wrong with being able to look up plot summary information for every movie ever made (even ones that got poor ratings or which sold poorly, such as The 13th Floor)? Is there a problem with extending that level of detail to episodes of Firefly, Sailor Moon, or an exhaustive description of historical steam trains?

    As long as someone is willing to put the time into writing it (and referencing it, and formatting it well, etc), it seems like it only adds value to Wikipedia as an encyclopedia.

  • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @01:24PM (#34941532)

    You're picking and choosing your logical constants in a way that only supports your own position. Open your mind a bit:

    Otherwise it would be a tape, perhaps but probably not with something still written on it, and totally useless. How could they tell it wasn't Enya?

    Do you assume that the LP's in the Smithsonian actually get played? Do the ancient pieces of pottery still ever hold food and drink? Or do people just look at them as examples?

    Secondly, I specified a *shitty* Pacman clone.

    Perhaps future generations would marvel at how shitty it was. You can't rightly say. Again there are a lot of pieces of pottery that are mere fragments of a functional device. You'd be pretty pissed if I tried to pour your soup into such a fragment, because it makes for a really shitty bowl. Yet it is under glass, all the same.

    Thirdly, you do realise that you're arguing about preserving a fictional (shitty) Pacman clone for a (shitty) 80s computer for some fictional museum in the year 3000 on the off-chance that the curator of the museum would give a fuck or even know what this piece of warped plastic he's been handed actually is?

    Actually, I believe he's arguing that those who wish to preserve it not be prohibited from doing so. It isn't as if this is some 'you must preserve it' mandate. Only an appeal against the arbitrary restrictions.

    You're saying it shouldn't be kept, while failing to realize that a lot of our antiquities in museums today were found in burial sites, sewers, and/or toilets. The people of that time didn't necessarily want to keep it either. They didn't judge the value of it in the same way we do today - which is rather the problem with your position, isn't it?

    I'd quote the final stanza and rebut it thusly, but the point's made: You're not in the future, and are incapable of accurately anticipating what will or will not be of value. Gnash teeth if you wish, but lay of the obstructionism until your time machine is completed...

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"