It seems like the Skyrim/MW3 campaign really launched the site into orbit, so to speak. Looking at the results of that campaign, and at what games are popular on the site, I noted a pattern. I'm sure others have noticed this as well, but I thought it might be nice to think on it and discuss it.
I think that this site fills a particular niche in the category of gaming help sites, and perhaps understanding that niche might help it to grow and stay big.
When I look for help about a game on the internet, I go to one of a few places:
- a FAQ site, which has a detailed (usually text) guide to the entire game from start to finish, usually including some sort of strategy for the game as a whole.
- A Wiki site, which has similar information, but perhaps differently organized, and features more multimedia options, a wider array of information, and is sometimes better maintained, although usually only for larger games and game series.
- Youtube, which frequently has video walkthroughs of varying quality.
- a "tool" site that might have an interactive map or some detailed analysis of game mechanics that I can probe interactively (many such things exist for games like TF2 and WoW)
Where Gaming.SE seems to fit is with games like Minecraft, Starcraft 2, Skyrim - these games have several elements in common. They're usually open ended experiences where a wide array of choices can be made, and there are multiple "right answers." A walkthrough for Starcraft 2 multiplayer or for Minecraft or even Fallout: New Vegas makes little sense. It's possible to do a wide variety of things and run into many unique situations.
I see us trying to expand into other games, with various levels of success. Most of the other games on the site you'll see a low number of questions, primarily asked by regulars to the site. Part of the problem is that it's hard to have experts who are knowledgeable about a wide variety of games, especially since many of the questions asked are relatively obscure. Plus, people don't come here looking for answers to these "other game" questions. I've also seen several people lament that there's no questions for a game they're an expert on, and that they feel posting their own questions/answers for that game would not be beneficial to the site.
As the "Skyrim high" wears down, it might be good to think about where the site is going and what's next. Is it good to fill the niche that other sites don't serve? Is there a way to get more of the "long tail" of game advice that we're currently kind of missing out on? What's the next big game to fit in this niche that we've shown we can serve well, and how can we ride that wave to further popularity?