The Dangers Of Using Wikipedia For Video Game History

When I put Total Recall stories together, I use a ton of sources. My memory/brain, for one, but also specialised history and collector sites, weird blogs, books, all kinds of places. Wikipedia is, sometimes, one of those places.

It's also not always the most reliable. A great piece this week over on Hardcore Gaming reminds us why that is, focusing on the confusion over the original release date of Atari classic Adventure, which thanks to conflicting reports and iffy use of old interviews has been listed as being anywhere from 1978 to 1980.

Sure, it's an isolated and relatively minor case, but it serves as a great example of the perils of researching and writing about history, regardless of the era or the subject matter. Just because you read something and it has a source doesn't mean it's objectively true.

Don't let that drag you down into a Matrix-like black hole of OH MY GOD IS ANYTHING TRUE, though. Like I said, it's an isolated case, and one far more likely to happen to very old games than more recent titles.

Perhaps even more interesting than the dodgy dates, though, is the political mess behind it, as the post talks about the influence a single man, collector and Wikipedia editor has had on propagating a "fact" that there actually appears to be little evidence to support.

Adventure, a game released in the year of wedontknow; or: Wikipedia continues to be a danger to video game historiography and should never be used as a source [HG101]

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends. You'll find Total Recall stories every Tue-Fri between 1am -2am Eastern.

Comments

    A slightly more modern case: Which was released first; Empire Earth or Age of Empires 2?

    I betcha RetroGamer magazine would be able to find the correct info. One of the main reasons books and magazines are not going anywhere, and the reason some of us have been collecting religiously for decades. Reference, and time stamped at that! Hyper, PC Powerplay, Megazone, Zapp, Crash, to name a few professional sources.

    Talk to Curt Vendel and Marty Goldberg, they know the real facts, they even have a book on Atari coming out over at www.ataribook.com

      No, they don't know. And there's no telling when their opinionated book is ever going to come out. It's already 4 months late and they're trying to blame Amazon? Please. Don't trust these 2 clowns.

    Without Wikipedia I would have never gotten my bachelor of science degree.

      Is that a piece of paper you wrote 'bachlore of sci3nc3' on?

    Wikipedia can't ever be cited for anything, but boy is it a good starting point

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    So you delete posts but not the plaguarist tripe of the 'author'. You should be ashamed Plunkett.

    I saw the first comment. It was a legitimate comment.

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