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Getting Your Videogame and ISP to Play Nice

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Often when I finish reviewing a game it marks one of the last times I’ll ever pick the title up again – not always, but often.  If I do play the game again, rarely does it find its way into some sort of regular rotation, and even more rarely do I end up liking a game even more than when I initially reviewed it, especially when all I’m doing is attempting to get ever closer to that elusive 100 percent completion.

Activision’s kart racing with real cars game, Blur, is one of those exceptionally few and far between titles that I have found myself playing for nearly two months beyond when my review went live.  It is true that I was driving across the country for a week and a half in the middle of those two months, but the absence certainly did make my heart grow fonder.  I may have finished all the leveling up possible in the single player mode, but I hadn’t gotten all the lights, nor I had finished my progress in the game’s excellent online multiplayer mode. 

And that, my friends, is where the problem lies.  Over the course of the past three weeks every time, save one, that I’ve attempted to sign on to the Blur game servers the connection has failed.  Being signed into the PlayStation Network, Blur claiming that it was successfully able to go online to check for updates (or at least not complaining that it couldn’t when it tried to look for updates), and the fact that there has been no change to my personal network setup since my last successful sign on to the servers makes me believe that the issue does not lie on my end.  However, with internet connections and firewalls and ports and routers and any number of things potentially causing the problem, who can really say.  A quick Google search also indicates that I’m not the only one to repeatedly have issues connecting but again that doesn’t mean that it lies on their end.

As I anxiously await an update from the PR people for Activision, it struck me that perhaps this is something of a larger problem with internet connected games.  Every time you finish a race in Blur, the game wants to connect to the servers and when it can’t spits back an error and that is exceptionally annoying. 

It is my personal hope that the Blur server is simply overtaxed, that too many people are trying to login and play the game (and it is worth playing) and that one day I will turn the game on and it will work in all its glory once more.  But, no matter where the fault lies, it certainly makes me think twice about internet connected, and internet required, titles.  

Whether or not the fault is on my end – and again my internet settings haven’t changed since the last time the game worked – it will require (and I’ve already spent) hours trying to figure it out. 

Isn’t this a place we’ve all been?  Will my internet service provider help?  Yes, provided you can give them all the right information.  Will the game publisher help provide the necessary information?  Yes to the extent that they can if they know what the issue might be (and in Activision’s case they have definitely posted which ports need to be opened if that is an issue anyone out there is having).  But, what happens when you run into the inevitable situation where one company won’t do what’s require to help the other or where each blames the other?  Will they get on a conference call with you and try to work it out?  Wouldn’t that be swell?  No, in the end, you’re going to spend hours on end on hold with each company waiting to talk to a tech and explain the problem from the beginning each time you are sent ping-ponging back and forth between the ISP and publisher.

There has to be a better way.

Don’t ask, I have no idea what that better way might be, but there has to be one.  Doesn’t there?  All I know is that I want to play more Blur online. 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.