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Gamer's Guide to Surviving an Online Gaming Outage

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Posted by: David Sanchez

A huge part of modern gaming culture is taking games online and playing them with or against other players. Thanks to technological advances, high-speed internet, and impressive console specs, gamers can now quickly get together and enjoy games more than they would if they were facing mindless bots. Sports games, military shooters, action-adventure games, and even RPGs all support online play, creating a community of gamers that is closer than ever. But what happens when a network experiences technical problems? What if the manufacturers are performing lengthy maintenance on their servers? What if some blasted Neanderthals decide to hack an online system, rendering it unsafe for gamers? What are you supposed to do when you can't game online? Below is a step-by-guide to surviving an online outage.

Step 1: Coming to Terms with Reality

Upon seeing that dreaded message on your screen that says your online network of choice is down, the first thing you need to do is accept that you probably won't be playing games online for a while. This is the hardest step, but it's also the most pivotal for dealing with the development. You're not going to be able to play games online for some time, so get used to it. When the PlayStation Network debacle hit Sony's current home platform, gamers eagerly anticipated the return of the service. Day in and day out, they checked to see if their PlayStation 3 consoles could get connected, sync trophies, or provide a digital shopping experience. It took a while for the situation to improve, and whining didn't solve anything. Acceptance is key, and it leads to the next step in coping with online failure.

Step 2: Don't Freak Out When Achievements and Trophies Don't Sync

When the PSN went down, many gamers had just purchased brand new copies of Mortal Kombat and Portal 2. I quickly put a number of hours into Mortal Kombat and began earning trophies. As expected, my PSN level did not increase with each one. Though I wouldn't consider myself a trophy whore by any means, it stung a little that I couldn't level up, especially after committing so much time and effort. I can only imagine the deep frustration that dedicated completionists felt when they realized their PSN profile wasn't changing. As the first step in this guide tells you, acceptance is a major part of getting over not being able to obtain rewards like achievements and trophies. There's nothing you can do about it, so let it go. Wait for the outage to pass and look forward to seeing your Gamerscore or level improve when the service does return.

After successfully accomplishing the first two steps of acceptance, you have one step left as you wait out your console's online outage. But because life is never easy, you'll have three steps to choose from.

Step 3A: Sell Your Console and Buy the Competitor's Machine

When the PSN went down for weeks, gamers started selling their PlayStation 3 systems and ran to their nearest video game retailer, purchasing an Xbox 360 instead. This act spoke volumes of the importance of online gaming in the modern era. There is no doubt in my mind that something similar would have happened if the situation were reversed and Microsoft was the victim of hacker attacks. Today's gamers expect an online component, and if they're not getting it, they're not going to play. For some, parting ways with their console in favor of the competition was tough. For others, it's all about the online play--the manufacturer, the exclusives, and the system itself aren't important. If you're serious about playing games online and can't wait out the network failure, your best bet is to shell out the cash for the other system.

Step 3B: Wait It Out

Patience is most definitely a virtue, and if you have the tenacity and the fortitude to wait for your favorite console's online component to return, you should. It won't be easy, but when you finally get that notification that your console's online network services are returning, you'll be glad you waited. And if Sony's "Welcome Back" program is any indication, you might even score some free goodies for your patience and brand loyalty.

Step 3C: Shun Modern Gaming and Revert to Old School Consoles

Of course, there is an alternative to all of this online gaming nonsense. You could become a hermit gamer, shunning all of the modern elements of the industry and going back to the basics: blowing on cartridges, using memory cards to save games, and forgetting all about online multiplayer and achievements. You'll likely lead a simpler life and enjoy polygonal graphics more. And glitches--they probably won't be as prevalent since developers had to really test games and make sure they were working flawlessly back in the retro days of gaming.

Online gaming has a myriad of pros and nary a con. But when something goes wrong internally, you can say goodbye to your online gaming component for the foreseeable future. It's a shame that game consoles run this risk, but that's the catch when you want the definitive gaming experience. If you ever fall victim to an online gaming outage (and you probably will), keep this guide handy. It'll save your life. Of course, I can't do anything to help you out in terms of the withdrawal symptoms you'll experience. You'll have to figure that out somewhere in between acceptance and going retro.

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