The Long Lost Game Manual

Whatever happened to the game manual? Once the first thing you glare at after ripping the plastic wrapping off a brand new game, the game manual has vanished from the gaming universe the last few years. Game publishers who are mostly responsible for the writing of manuals have taken a new approach. The gaming industry is part of an ever-evolving world and with change comes complaints. I don’t complain all the time, but when I do, I would hope that it is somewhat valid. (Maybe my hope is blind)

I am an old school gamer through and through. I remember the eager feeling of flipping through a game manual before loading up a brand new game. I did not relish jumping into a game and being lost right from the get-go. I wanted to skim through the manual and visualize exactly what I was about to engage in. Some questions that always emerged in my mind were, how do I shoot, how do I move, how to pick up weapons, and what each weapon does.

Over the years, games have mostly followed suit, even across different platforms. When you play a first person shooter today, you can expect the aim to be the LT (left trigger) button, and shoot will be the RT (right trigger) button. It has certainly become commonplace. I don’t mind that at all. I like to feel the fluidity in shooting games so you feel that sense of having done this before. As we all know, not all games are shooters and this is when I yearn for the game manual.

An influx of different games is beginning to arrive for the new generation of consoles. If you think about it, the PlayStation 4 has already seen 3 RPG’s in its short lifespan (Child of Light, Transistor, and FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, respectively). Jumping into games of this array without a manual can be quite perplexed. I understand that most games provide in-game tutorials but not every game is that accommodating. For example, I read a comment on a gaming site this morning about MLB 14: The Show; a gamer was confused on its controls, as he was a first time player.

He never played the series at all and filed a valid complaint that the game just tossed him into the mix without proper instruction. He did not even know how to pitch. How was he supposed to get comfortable? Sure, he could easily go online and look up the commands, but didn’t he pay $60+ for the developer/publisher to do that? After all, ease of gameplay has and always will be a major plus in gaming.

I understand that the gaming companies have their own reasons for getting rid of the manual. I would assume that the main reason is to cut costs. Secondary reasoning could be to “go green”. Have you ever seen any go green ads on the games box case? I sure haven’t. Most of us have probably become accustomed to not receiving a game manual, but has anyone ever asked the question why? Maybe some have, but has anyone ever received an answer? I don’t think so. It sure would be nice just to know why.