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February 12, 2014 - 4:34pm -- Lee B.
The Waypoint

Data-Mining has gotten rather prevalent in our community as of late. Some communities, like the Guild Wars 2 subreddit, have made public announcements about moderating spoilers about the upcoming Living World release. These spoilers came about due to some data-mined information and this happened because of the data-mining culture has been accepted in our communities up until this point.

Asura Mech

The question that needs to be asked is “Why does Data Mining exist in Guild Wars 2?”. Well I can totally see the perspective that because the information is there to be seen we might as well take advantage of it and learn what we can. We all want to know when that new bit of content is incoming. Heck, I remember looking at the data-mined images of the new Edge of the Mists map and being super excited for what that was going to be.  It’s exciting when we see some unpublished information and then speculate to its meaning or purpose.

However the question was “Why does it exist?” and my answer is that the people who actively pursue it and actively talk about it are like children who couldn’t wait for their presents on Christmas Day. We all know when we’re going to get new content and we all know we’ll see plenty of teasers and information on it prior to patch day. Much like the child knows when they will get their presents and know what they asked for. It exists because the community is impatient and wants to show it off before ArenaNet can truly show off these new changes in the medium they intended to do so. In my mind I see a data-miner creeping into ArenaNet’s closet at night to peek inside the wrapping of the next big update, then running to their phone to tell their friends.

Some would argue with me that the data-miner is much more like a private investigator than an impatient child. That the data-miner is providing us information we need to know to use as some accountability for ArenaNet. The benefit here is that ArenaNet could put some planned piece of content into the files and the data-miner shows it to the community to say “Look at this guys! We need to talk about this before they go ahead with it and make sure they do it correctly if at all!”. The primary example here being the VIP Membership that came up from the trial client for Edge of the Mists.

VIP Membership

This image being the one data-mined and laden with a few spelling errors.

I disagree whole-heartedly with this statement and retort that such actions only further create distance between ArenaNet and the community. I think there won’t be such an open beta for a new feature any time soon and that is because those test clients have access to information that I doubt ArenaNet wants to get out. ArenaNet has been burned for trusting the community plenty of times now, and we only further prove to them that they can’t trust us behind the curtain. Heck, I wouldn’t trust us after one active player goes out of the way to tell the community why some WvW changes were nothing good for the game. Now we have players snooping in files for information that was verified to not even be part of our market.

In the end I don’t believe data-mining does anyone any good. It only allows the impatient to be that much more impatient for a game that releases content at a break neck speed. Then those same impatient people trivialize the content before it is even put out. It makes people demand for swim suits nearly every patch because someone data-mined an image of swimsuits in the game at one point, when in reality who cares if such a thing exists? I’d much rather have a proper hood for my Ranger than seeing him in a mankini. Who knows if all this data mining has an adverse effect on the game as well? ArenaNet may have had to change some game implementation practices merely because of this rampant, and accepted data-mining in our community.

Frankly I think data-miners should keep all that information private, or just stop the practice altogether. I think any sites that have data-mining content on their site should take that content down. We’re only saying to ArenaNet “Hey. We don’t trust you to give us information the way we want to. So we’ll do it ourselves.”