*working title

A proposal for a new Everything-powered collaborative database to catalogue the pastime of videogames.

The story so far

Since E2 was spawned out of the ashes of Everything 1 (about four and a half years ago now), a subset of the user base have been eerily compelled to harness the functionality of this site to record factual and critical information about computer and video games. In the early days a number of users worked in isolation on cataloguing their own favourite corners of the hobby/industry, employing wildly varying policies to the type and quality of content they chose to include in their writeups. As activity on E2 in general gradually became more structured (see raising the bar, et al), the videogames usergroup was founded and a loose set of conventions set out for anyone wanting to comprehensively node an individual game. (Indexes were also set up for cataloguing several other game-related items of interest, see the node video games for more information.)

Everything2's functionality offers several advantages to the participants of this group. Hardlinks and softlinks (and to a lesser extent firmlinks) offer a powerful and extremely intuitive method for cross referencing information. One can immediately pull up information on a game's creators, what other games they've made, what titles the game has influenced or been influenced by, and so on. Messaging, indexes and the videogames group page offer scope for informal peer review and constructive criticism from users with a similar deep interest in games. The ability to have multiple discrete writeups within a node allows wildly differing perspectives and elaboration on themes without the need for duplication of basic information. The upshot of all this is that the video games index now leads off to a rich seam of information about all kinds of games. However there are some problems.

Limitations of game-noding on E2

Everything2 obviously has to store information in a very generalised way. The lack of (preconfigured or user-implementable) specialisation means that, for example, a user can't search by platform, year of publication, etc. An indirect result of this is that while there are plenty of noders willing to write up games, no one wants to write up companies (developers and publishers) in depth (actually, this happens for a combination of reasons: companies cannot easily be linked to all their products in an easily maintainable way; there are very few existing examples to guide how to write up a company; list-heavy, prose-light 'metanodes' are poorly received by the experience system; too few users know enough about a given company to be able to nail the writeup, and there's not enough incentive to do the research required).

(There was talk at one time of implementing a nodetype called a nodesphere which would allow more powerful grouping of nodes, but this has gone quiet of late.)

This brings us to the next problem: lack of eyeballs. There are only relatively few people contributing game related content and it's not being seen by the gaming community at large. We have been blessed by the occasional genre expert, but the frequency of this is greatly limited by the low influx of new users. Contrary to the popular saying, E2 isn't unfriendly to new noders - but it is confusing and inaccessible (not to mention hideously ugly) to outsiders. As a result there are big gaps in our content.

Everything2 is also lacking some of the bells and whistles present on other Everything implementations - AnimeFu is more geared towards this kind of work, community2's registries, fora and comment trees (or at least the raw materials they're made from) would offer greater functionality. (e.g. ability to comment writeups, add small pieces of information without having to submit a fully-fledged writeup). There are even more radical features available to the Everything developer (such as Dann's picture gallery extension).

To labour the 'specialisation' point again, there are a lack of ways to use the data once we have it. (Take a look at IGN or Gamespot's 'my collection' and 'wishlist' features, Amazon's list creation feature, voting, genre classification, rich media editorial content.)

A final problem is that the videogames group has consciously chosen not to enforce the rules (or rather, guidelines) that have been developed very strictly. This is not something that would be possible or indeed desirable to change within the wider context of Everything2, but it does mean that for some games, baseline, non-subjective information is omitted.


As most of the problems described above can't be addressed within the scope of Everything2, the obvious solution would be to set up a new site that replicates as much of E2's goodness as possible while having a data model, community rules and interface more closely tied to the needs of specialisation. A site that can clearly and unambiguously catalogue every game. The idea has been tabled before, but I've only recently decided to examine it with much depth (as a result of appraisal of the existing sites attempting to fill this role, and an objective look at the rate of progress of the videogames group on E2).

You may be thinking at this point that surely many sites already exist to fill this role. Unfortunately this isn't the case. There is no gaming equivalent to the All Music Guide or the IMDB, at least nothing even remotely near that level of sophistication and comprehensiveness. You may have seen MobyGames (drastically incomplete and inconsistent), KLOV (only covers coinops, is poorly thought out and generally useless), Gamespot (extremely patchy legacy - i.e. pre-1996 - content, almost exclusively focussed on US market), and GameFAQs (high level of noise, more based around {beating/tallying content of/reproducing manuals of} games than cataloguing them).

It makes sense (at least, to my mind) to use the Everything engine because it's free, familiar to some users here and does what we want.

Next I'll try to give a clearer picture of what will actually be on this database.


Here is a list of possible (content-holding) node types that could be incorporated. (Ouroboros says: When you speak of 'node-types', it would be more accurate to call them 'content-types', as we even discuss 'node-types' as being ambiguous in eCore.)

* = These are secondary concerns, and would work pretty much like plain-jane E2 nodes. (i.e. no 'formal' information fields, space for multiple writeups)

X = These are probably un-necessary.

'Editorial' is a single-writeup plain node that maybe can have a comment tree or something.

'Journal' = thing you can add blog / LJ style entries to.


The closest equivalent to an Everything2 node. Contains some additional fields (which I envisage working in a similar way to C2's registries) for information that should always be included. These can be commented. They will include: Publisher, Developer, copyright year (first version), release date, platform, alternate titles. (Apart from copyright year, there can be more than one of any of these, with clarification added as comments.)

Writeups would work in roughly the same way as they do on Everything2. However there is one small refinement that might be useful (cribbed from Halliwell's Film Guide): the seperation of description and review. 'Description' (a non-subjective short synopsis of the game) might work in the same way as the fields mentioned above, and be more strictly length-limited than a normal writeup. A game can only have one description and it can be 'endorsed' by staff (similar to Animefu's system).

There can be multiple reviews for a game (possibly the term 'review' is a bit misleading, as these would not necessarily have to follow the conventions of press reviews). Presumably, these could be voted on in a similar manner to E2, although possibly with a modified weighting and power structure (anticipating the site having - hopefully! - a larger, yet unfortunately more undisciplined, active user base than E2). Possibly, there could also be a staff-sanctioned review (created afresh or 'blessed' from the user submissions) which (in another shameless lift from Halliwell's) could give the game a rating out of four stars. (In this way we can generate an 'official' hall of fame by year/platform - although giving users the ability to give 'unofficial' scores to games with or without submitting a review would give us nice 'populist' leaderboards too.)

Publishers and Developers

These work in a slightly different way to game nodes. There is some overlap that needs to be addressed: a publisher can also be a developer (e.g. Sega, Konami, Capcom). A developer can be a company (studio) or an individual. An individual developer can work for (or can have worked for in the past) a development studio, but this does not automatically mean that (s)he worked on every game developed by that studio. A publisher can own a developer (does this need to be formally indicated in the data?), and a development company (team, studio) can be part of another development company (group, house). A publisher have multiple regional branches or divisions. There is another type of company, a platform vendor, who can own/manufacture one or more platforms, and may also be a software publisher. As you can see, this needs to be tested quite extensively to check there are no (or at least, mercifully few) weird combinations that wouldn't work. It might make more sense to just have 'company' and 'individual' node types, which attributes and relationships can be added to as required. (There is also a potentially sensitive issue of an industry figure having an 'individual' node while being a user of the site.)


A platform does not necessarily denote a discrete piece of hardware. Again there are probably a number of equally valid ways to organise this data. My thinking would be to have a broad category (PC, console, arcade, handheld), then platforms within those categories (ZX Spectrum, Windows PC, Super Nintendo, System 16), with information about the pieces of hardware that make up that platform within the platform nodes, and exceptional information for a given game (e.g. 'this game only runs on 128k Spectrums') included in a comment in the game's 'platform' field. Again, examples are required to test this structure.


Input devices, etc. Games can link to them if they support them. They can link to systems that they are compatible with. There might need to be some way of indicating if a device is 'generic' (vs. 'special') - there is no point in every single PS2 game linking back to the Dual Shock 2 controller, or every Amiga game listing the dozens (if not hundreds) of Amiga joysticks on the market. Again, there is scope for categorisation (joystick, mouse, light gun, input device, output device, simulation controller, cheat device, etc...).

Application / Tool / Emulator

A game-related piece of software that isn't a game. (No, not The Sims.) Arguably too broad and vague a category to warrant inclusion. Could be linked to relevant games and platforms.

Book / Magazine / TV Programme / Film

Fairly straightforward: other media items that are significantly linked to games.

For books, it might be redundant to include the massive amount of by-the-numbers (Prima) strategy guides, but there are many academic books, novels, technical guides, collections of essays, artbooks, etc. that might be worthy of inclusion.

Magazines shouldn't pose any problem, they can be linked to the relevant platforms, and give indication of the territory of origin, alternate names, and whether they're still running.

TV programmes mainly refers to 'magazine' series (Gamesmaster, Gamepad, Bits, Bad Influence, etc.) but could also cover television documentaries (Trigger Happy) and shows-based-on-games (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show).

Film covers films based on games, films with notable game content (Tron, WarGames, The Wizard) that is important to the movie, and documentaries (Modern Day Gamer).


Organisations that are relevant to gaming but aren't directly involved in developing and publishing games. This could include unions, industry lobby groups, committees and ratings boards.

Other stuff

The site's users need to be able to communicate with each other, leave comments and have discussions. They may also want to create editorial content that does not pertain to a specific game title. To this end the site could incorporate journal (daylogs) and article node types.


Discussing video games tends to require the reader to be familiar with a lot of jargon. Glossary terms such as 'survival horror', 'shmup', 'slowdown', and 'power-up' can be explained here.

Data that explicitly isn't included

Some information included on other games database sites would not be necessary here. Information that can go out of date quickly or be misleading should be avoided. Specifically, I am refering to information about pricing (changes rapidly), rarity (almost universally made up by eBay sellers), packaging (arguably this might be helpful for people wishing to identify games they don't know the title of) and genre (too complex to formally quantify). In terms of review content, myths (Space War was first game, Donkey Kong was going to be Monkey Kong) and commonly held fallacies should be sought out and eradicated. One possible goal for the site would be to act as a definitive reference on these kind of issues, in the same vein as snopes.com or the Guinness Book of Records.


A lot of E2 concepts will be transfered, but it might be sensible to rename and tweak the roles of some of them. This should not be done for its own sake however. It might be nice to rename votes/XP and C!s as points and 1UPs though.

Outstanding questions

Hopefully this initial proposal gives you some idea of the kind of site I'd like to see, not replacing or replicating videogames content on Everything2, but acting as a complementary resource designed to meet the requirements of a different (but overlapping) audience. There are still many questions that need to be answered: Who would host the site? How will it be paid for? Who will write the site? Who will do the layout? Who will maintain the site? Who gets to contribute?

So to help answer these questions I'd like to ask for feedback from the videogames group and the wider E2 community. Please let me know (by /msg as your first option) if you think this is a feasible plan, whether I've made some glaring omission, if you want to help, or if I've missed some obvious website that does all of the above and more. Or if you can think of a better title.

Crap. Yes, I am aware of the All Game Guide. It's only returned a positive on one of the first ten (moderately obscure) searches I've entered into it so far, and that only contained bare bones information.

Thanks to everyone who has sent feedback about this idea, sorry I haven't gotten around to answering everyone individually. It would probably be a good next step to set up some means of discussing this in more detail. Watch this space.

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