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I recently asked for some feedback on gaming.stackexchange and got this:

Who are these people who can't find the existing hand-edited, 1000x better FAQs for popular games they're playing? The Nethack spoilers contain literally everything about that game. The only ones I see that have an explanation other than "can't type into google search box" are the ones about obscure or meta topics - A Boy and His Blob on NES, the most popular starcraft 2 maps, etc.

This is different from the original stack overflow vision - there's a ton of strange stuff in programming where the only documentation is "ask someone who's done it."

It's an interesting criticism, and I hadn't actually thought of it that way before. Since we explicitly discourage subjective/unanswerable discussion, the objective stuff could be viewed as a reduction to per-game FAQs in every case.

So, then, what keeps gaming.stackexchange.com from being a glorified list of "go see the FAQ for {game title}"?

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    It would be interesting to know who gave you that feedback (or at least, what kind of person he/she is (gamer? programmer? Joel?)) – juan Sep 11 '10 at 21:50
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    @Juan I don't even think he has ever visited the site to begin with. – badp Sep 12 '10 at 16:35
  • @badp false, Joel has been here and even asked questions ! – tzenes Sep 12 '10 at 17:47
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    @tzenes, I wasn't talking about Joel, I was talking about the person who gave the feedback and "saw" a glorified list of "go see the FAQ" links :) – badp Sep 12 '10 at 18:06
  • Uh the fact that most games come with a 3 pages of controls and 20 pages of legal crap? – Ivo Flipse Sep 12 '10 at 19:08
  • @Ivo I Think he means online FAQs, not the manuals. – Macha Sep 12 '10 at 19:24
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    He makes it sound like those FAQs are all a bunch of manuals, that every gamer keeps at hand. He must also think people read manuals before starting to use products – Ivo Flipse Sep 12 '10 at 19:39
  • @badp my mistake I misunderstood you, sorry. – tzenes Sep 12 '10 at 20:02
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    @Ivo the #1 rule of user interface development: "Users can't read, and if they could they wouldn't." – tzenes Sep 12 '10 at 20:03
  • @tzenes, no worries. – badp Sep 12 '10 at 20:37
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I think that while googling for a game FAQ is sometimes a better "immediate gratification" resource ("I need to know where that gem is located RIGHT NOW!"), the SE engine allows for a clearer distillation of quality answers that will be easily visible in the future. While looking for the location of Gem X, I can either pore through half a dozen FAQs on a site, ctrl+F my way through each one of them, and then try to put the information together for myself in a coherent manner, or I can check for/ask the question on GSE and have the information presented to me in a coherent manner.

This is especially useful for questions that aren't as cut-and-dry as "Where is X located," such as the many questions about StarCraft II's metagame or Dwarf Fortress strategy. Answers to those types of questions are often found scattered throughout forum posts across the internet, interlaced with irrelevant discussion. Seeing as there are higher standards for quality answers here and the SE engine is not fit for discussion and discourages it, you have a resource that (hopefully) has a lot less of the useless noise and more information that will actually help you.

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    Super plus for our site being less useless noise and more information! On top of that, one thing we offer better than simple text walkthroughs is that we are responsive! Not only can we cater to what the person directly asks, but if our answers are confusing or insufficient then we can fix them. I think our ability to cater to the question author is probably our biggest asset and distinguishing factor. – Grace Note Sep 11 '10 at 21:02
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    Excellent way of explaining how the SE system is better than forums or FAQs -- IMO this is also true on stackoverflow, almost all answers there can be found googling, but you go there for the service. – juan Sep 11 '10 at 21:52
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    Gamefaq have a large database of already collected data. Once you get past the fact that gamefaqs has been around longer you find that gaming.se has much higher quality information – tzenes Sep 12 '10 at 1:37
  • A game FAQ contains all the answers, if someone wants a small piece of information, such as how do I get this achievement, the SE system is a better place. Multiple opinions/perspectives are easily accessible and the answers are directed, two things a game FAQ can not do. – Elpezmuerto Sep 12 '10 at 16:26
  • As noted... blah blah blah... GameFAQs has a Q&A section. P.S. This is in response to just the first half of your answer. – user2974 Sep 13 '10 at 19:42
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Some examples where we differ from GameFAQs (as an example):

  • Problem Specific: Where GameFAQs is perfect if you want all details, like where are all the unique items in a certain game, it is not that great if you want the solution to a specific problem
  • Googleability: If we take the well known Metroid Prime Trilogy freeze problems simply searching for metroid prime trilogy freeze will have us as the first usful resource, along a bunch of non-related results. Due to the sheer amount of information contained in a GameFAQ, specific problems don't do well on Google searches.
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: A great thing about GameFAQs is is it's completeness, yet this is also it's downside; usually everything mention in the paper manual and/or tutorial of the game making searching for a specific item much harder.
  • Spoilers: 9 out of 10 gamefaqs are spoiler FAQs and non-spoiler FAQs are marked as such, where here, you can ask a question containing spoilers on the part already gone through and get an answer that contain no spoilers for the area you still haven't beaten.

"But GameFAQs has an Q&A page too"

Yes, it does, but it has all the problems associated with all the other per-item Q&A sites, which is exactly what we're here trying to fix.

I personally don't want to watch 150 different Q&A pages to see if I can answer a question for one of the games I own, so I'm not using GameFAQs Q&A


I see us not as a competitor of GameFAQs or as a replacement of GameFAQs; No, I see us as an additional resource in addition to GameFAQs

  • Per-Item Q&A works really well if you're looking for the answer to a specific game's questions, just not if you're trying to answer as many questions as possible. The latter situation is also the unfortunate downside of having a rating system on a site; you're encouraged to answer as many questions as you possibly can rather than just the ones you know for sure. – user2974 Sep 17 '10 at 16:56
  • @Powerlord, 1) that's where per-game tagging comes into play. 2) and it's the same rating system that allows the better answers to surface. – alexanderpas Oct 15 '10 at 11:46
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Honestly, that's no different from StackOverflow.

Many SO questions can be solved by pointing at the right page of the language reference. That doesn't mean you even knew there was a reference to begin with, or that you knew that page existed in the first place; even then, you still you have to find it, which can quite be the task. cough MSDN cough

In Gaming, this is even harder. There is no one official documentation for Starcraft 2, e.g. -- merely many dozen incomplete resources with bits and pieces of often incomplete, contradictory or even plain wrong information. Just like MSDN.

Some games do not even have this luxury. I am yet to find a truly comprehensive guide to Aquaria, for example. There is a wiki, but it's fully dedicated to mod development. For the rest, it's forum crawling. Blech. Pretty much like what you had to wrestle with when MSDN lets you down.

StackOverflow isn't a collection of RTFM links and Gaming isn't a collection of GameFAQ links. Actually I don't think I've seen any at all...

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    Did I mention MSDN is quite unusable? – badp Sep 12 '10 at 19:33
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    I actually believe that most answers here are answered based on experience rather than Google searches – Ivo Flipse Sep 12 '10 at 20:51
  • IMHO MSDN has gotten a lot better as of their most recent refresh – ahsteele Sep 16 '10 at 23:20
  • +1. I would give +10 if I could. – Wikwocket Sep 30 '10 at 14:04
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In my (admittedly limited) experience of game FAQs you almost need to know the answer before you look so you can search through the several screens of walkthroughs/secret location lists etc. to find what you want.

It's much more natural to ask someone "you know that bit in X, how you do get Y?". Normally it would be your sibling (well OK brother)/your mate down the pub/in college/at work, but it would be at some point later. With Gaming you can ask the question and (hopefully) get an answer fairly quickly.

Yes, a lot of answers may be "see the FAQ", but they will (hopefully) point you to the bit of the FAQ you need.

Actually, I've just realised that all FAQ's have the same problem. Unless you search for the problem as it's described in the FAQ the chances of getting the right answer are small. Look at how many questions there are on Meta Stack Overflow about how to use Stack Overflow.

  • +1 for the MSO reference, even a FAQ generates questions – Ivo Flipse Sep 12 '10 at 22:05
  • As alexanderpas addressed in his answer, GameFAQs has a Q&A section these days, and it's considerably more comprehensive than this site is. – user2974 Sep 13 '10 at 19:40
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His point isn't fair, since we didn't exist at the moment most of those FAQ were written and they've had a very long time to write their very thorough FAQ's.

In the future when a new game has just launched and users are stuck in some level, do you think they're going to wait for someone writing a whole FAQ? Plus I don't want spoilers, I just need a solution to my problem, pronto!

Another thing is that FAQ is probably being confused with walkthroughs, since I've yet to see one person come up with every possible QUESTION someone could have about a game. Walkthroughs also tend to focus on comprehensively explaining how to get from A-B as fast as possible. It won't explain you how to work around poor game controls or random quirks in the game.

Does our site replace game FAQs? No, but it enhances them for every question they fail to address. These also tend to be the things that are buried on some deep dark forum or hidden in the minds of fellow gamers, you know, people who visit this site.

You pick where to look for answers...

  • As noted... blah blah blah... GameFAQs has a Q&A section. – user2974 Sep 13 '10 at 19:42
  • @Powerlord commenting on every answer in this thread seems very trollish. Especially the tone of this particular comment. – ahsteele Sep 16 '10 at 23:23
  • @ahsteele: Assuming that GameFAQs is a site that only has static FAQs is a case of Did Not Do The Research (as TVTropes calls it), and invalidates most of the answers to this question. I could have just downvoted and not explained why, but that would just be asking for more answers along the same lines. Alternately, I could have copied and pasted the same answer to every question (except the TWO that didn't make said false claim... one of which actually acknowledged that and responded to it. Speaking of which, I haven't upvoted that answer yet... click) – user2974 Sep 17 '10 at 16:52
  • @Powerlord commenting as a means of explaining a down vote is of course good site practice. I should have assumed that's what you were doing. My bad thanks for explaining. :) – ahsteele Sep 23 '10 at 2:46

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