Need For Read

In: Articles by Dave "Holy Goalie" Gardner

28 Jul 2010

reading_rainbowIt has begun.

It started off slowly, almost silenty. One page at a time, one URL link at a time. But eventually our video game manuals started to get thinner and thinner, with the end goal for many companies to not have a manual at all and instead to have it all online.

For many of us it is a sad, sad day. As much as I use the internet for research, there is still nothing like a newspaper or magazine in your hand while you have your morning coffee or kick back on the deck with a Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Digital Age has arrived, and it’s not without its casualties.

Since I was a kid buying games for the Atari 2600 and the Mattel Intellivision, I used to love to read the game manuals. They brought the game to life with pages of the game background and story. It showed you how to play the game, had great artwork, and even offered a page for notes. (Has anyone ever written anything in the notes section?)

Slowly and methodically with everything going online, page by page of the game manuals started to vanish, with only URL links left in the ashes. First it was the game story going from two pages to two paragraphs, then to barely a few sentences. Next the instructions on how to play turned into a tutorial section at the beginning of each game. Character artwork got the pink slip, too.

Then they came for the notes page. After that there wasn’t much left to take away.

I will miss reading the short stories and backdrops that enhanced the game and looking at the character or weapon illustrations. I will still instinctively reach for the game manual to freshen up on the controls if I haven’t played that game in a while, only to find it not there.

The game booklet to me was the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, now it’s all just a click away.

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5 Responses to Need For Read



July 28th, 2010 at 8:00 am

Booklet, hell, I fondly remember playing wargame or military sim sorts of games that came with honest to God *books* – spiral bound tomes and the like.




July 28th, 2010 at 9:18 am

I hope Bungie includes a good manual with Reach, I love reading about the guns and vehicles in their previous booklets.

Or how about Forza motorsport 1, Turn 10 did a good manual for that game, including a section with a bunch of pictures showing you how to hit the apex of the turns for people new to sim racers. Forza 3 has a worthless 13 page manual.

I just don’t like losing my manuals. :(



July 28th, 2010 at 9:29 am

I make it a standard practice to buy a guide book day and date with the game. Gives me a good reference for parts of the game that I’m having trouble with.



July 28th, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I remember enjoying the heck out of the books and maps that came with the games I had years ago. That nostalgia aside, I’m kinda glad for the digital and in-game manuals now. Shelf space is at a premium for me now, and the cases take enough room by themselves.

Still miss my Civ 2 tech tree poster, though.


Nick Dinicola

July 29th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I don’t think manuals are needed nowadays. Story and tutorials should be in the game, not the manual, that’s a better place for them. The way I see it, if I have to go to a manual to find out how to do something or what’s going on, then the game has failed in a significant way.

A good game should be able to stand by itself.

However, I think maps or visual tech trees are good additions, but those seem more like extras. You don’t need them, but they’re nice to have.

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