Alternate Reality Gamers are always looking for the best way to keep informed of what’s going on in their favorite game. Not everyone can surf the boards reading each and every post all day long (yes, some people actually have to work at work), so players are always looking for ways to stay as current as possible without having to sacrifice huge amounts of time. Historically, moderated lists or blogs that would email updates to players’ in-boxes were pretty much the standard vehicle for letting players know about game updates in a timely way.
Recently however, ARGs and their corresponding player-authored resources have begun taking advantage of RSS syndication, which is a way of pushing new content out to players, but surprisingly, this great vehicle is often going underutilized. So, we thought we’d offer a little primer for those of you who have always wondered what those little RSS buttons that show up on various websites are for.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication, and is a standard format for publishing and distributing regular updates around the web. Using this standard, website publishers can provide updates like the latest news headlines or blog postings to consumers who use RSS reader applications (or one of a growing number of online services) to collect and monitor their favorite feeds in one place (RSS content viewed in one of these readers, is often called a “feed”).
Major news websites such as Wired and news-oriented community sites such as Slashdot and Fark offer RSS feeds, but it’s not just for news. Almost anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS: the “recent changes” page of a wiki, new items for sale on Amazon.com, even recent postings or new topics in a forum. Once information about each item is in RSS format, a feedreader program can check the feed for changes and notify you when they occur.