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Resource Review: GameFAQs

GameFAQs (http://www.gamefaqs.com) is a fully-searchable online archive of video and computer game information.  It is owned by the GameSpot network but independently operated by Allen Tynan, a member of the site since its inception in 1995 and a GameFAQs employee since 2004.  GameFAQs is free but ad-supported.  Strict policies ensure that ads are relevant and appropriate for all audiences.

GameFAQs provides multiple interface options.  For the user who wishes to find information for a specific game quickly, a search box sits immediately below the site’s logo, with a drop-down menu allowing the user to limit the search to a specific platform.   Those who prefer browsing may use the navigation bar labeled “Platforms” which lists all of the video game consoles in the two most recent generations as well as PCs and an “All Systems” option; the site also provides a dropdown menu on the same bar which includes several older platforms.  The user can then further narrow her options by selecting titles beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet or in genres such as “Action,” “Role-Playing,” and “Sports.”

The site’s scope is both broad and deep.  It includes user-submitted FAQs for games as old as the 1972 Magnavox release “Table Tennis” and as new as “Final Fantasy XIII,” with a US release date of March 9, 2010.  The full system list includes over 100 platforms for computer and video games.  The depth of FAQs varies depending on the game.  For the puzzle game “Tetris,” only general FAQs are provided, consisting of information such as game controls, pieces, and general strategies.  For “DragonAge: Origins,” a recent role-playing game, a nearly 40,000 word walkthrough guides the player through each plot element in the game; also available for this game are guides for specific character types, hidden content, the magic system, and item creation.

While GameFAQs is not the only resource of this type, it is unique in its affordability, comprehensiveness and accessibility.  Commercially available guides such as those produced by Prima and Brady Games only address one game at a time and have list prices in the $20 to $30 range.  Gaming magazines like GamePro do not have searchable archives and have cover prices of about $6 per issue.  Other online sources, such as IGN, include only general FAQs.  Unlike these sites, GameFAQs requires that most of its guides be presented in ASCII text format, ensuring accessibility and interoperability.  GameFAQs also includes social aspects such as message boards and a Q&A feature where users can respond to each others’ questions about games.  Both this and the fact that GameFAQs relies entirely on user-contributed content give young adults who join the community the opportunity to write for an authentic audience.

GameFAQs is a valuable resource for all gamers, but may be of particular interest to library youth services departments and middle and high school librarians.  Teachers looking for authentic audiences for student writing can take advantage of the community aspects of the site.  Young adult services librarians will find it useful both for individual patrons and as a support for gaming programming.  With its low cost and wide appeal, this resource is suitable for school, public, and academic libraries.

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