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Multimedia Review:
Gamma Game Reviews (GGR)

http://www.ggr.com

by Auren Hoffman

for Howard Besser

October 16, 1996

Gamma Game Reviews (GGR) is a very COOL web gaming zine. Its objective reviews are refreshing for many gamers who are used to biased reviews that shed a positive light on advertisers. Since Gamma has no paid advertising, it is not currently inhibited by a self-serving motive. GGR's rogue status as an alternative zine attracts eyeballs to its site.

Gamma's Technical Advances

Gamma is known in gaming circles as being dynamic, high-bandwidth, and graphic intensive. Gamma is one of the few sites that currently utilizes the server enhancements of Netscape's LiveWire - a server-side code that allows for complex database functions and client-side applications while conserving bandwidth and processing power. Much of the processing of Gamma's pages is done through javascripts - so that the browser gets most of the processing load. Gamma's disbursement of the processing load is vital to its functionality - otherwise Gamma's server would not be able to handle the load.

Gamma is certainly a very attractive, intense site. Moreover, GGR utilizes its technology to really benefit the reader. While other Internet zines add high-tech bells and whistles, Gamma forces the technology to enhance a reader's overall experience, learning, understanding, and enjoyment.

Interaction with the Visitor

Gamma defines "interaction" for the World Wide Web. Check out this older review of a game called Shannara. Each review has three main sections:

  1. REVIEW: text based (qualitative) review with imbedded screen shots. This section is usually three or four paragraphs -- giving the reviewer's thoughts on the game.

  2. RATINGS: quantitative review rates each quality of a game like addictiveness, interface, and playability. This section displays the reviewer's choice and also the average of those who vote (see below).

  3. SPECS: informational overview of the game like what systems it is compatible with, where to get the game, how much it costs, etc.

In addition to the reviewer's input, Gamma Game Reviews also solicits input from its readers. This is where it differs from most gaming magazines. Every game has five additional sections to the ones listed above that engage registered users of Gamma:

  1. VOTE: Gamma asks it's readers to "vote" by also rating the game quantitatively. These votes are averaged and displayed.

  2. FAQ: registered users can submit their own frequently asked questions about the game.

  3. HINTS: If you have some hints about the game like some monster's vulnerability or a good strategy, you can post it here.

  4. WALKS: Sometimes, especially for complicated games, it is nice to have a detailed walk-thru of the game before you play it. This might also be beneficial if you were deciding whether or not to buy the game.

  5. UTILITIES: for even more additional information about this game, a user can post and view links to other sites talking about this game or download software that might help make playing the game easier. The user can even do a search through Alta Vista for more information on the game.

Gamma's Strengths

Gamma Game Reviews nurtures an on-line community that is committed to interdependent contributors, problem-solvers, viewers, players, vendors, and gamers. Gamma gives the different members of this community a sense of ownership of the site - a reason to become engaged in GGR.

As a viewer, I love the ease with which Gamma makes reading and surfing. Everything about a particular game is neatly designed so all the information is very easily accessible.

Gamma's real strength is its content. With little marketing or money, Gamma has managed to establish itself as one a few premier gaming magazines solely through what it says and how it says it.

Gamma takes advantage of the medium better than other gaming sites. Unlike most of their competition, Gamma is not an off-shoot of a paper magazine. Most of the other sites are just soft copies of their paper zines with interesting links thrown in. Gamma's use of video, changing screen shots, customizable javascripts, and instant feel attract users.

Gamma's Problems

The main problem with Gamma is that it is an unreliable web site. It goes down all time. Even when it is up and seemingly functional, sometimes reviews don't work or other aspects of the site malfunction. If GGR was more stable, it would attract a much higher volume of traffic and could become one of the most popular stops on the web. Of course, then they might start selling advertising.

Conclusion

I'm not a big gamer - but I love Gamma. I love it for the technology - but also because it is fun and I become part of the community. GGR is a great hang-out multimedia spot on the super I-way. Check it out.

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