After recently buying a new game for my X Box 360, I noticed that no manual was included. This is something I have noticed rather consistently in many newer games. Now, perhaps this is just my inner nostalgia talking, but I miss the days when every game you bought had a detailed and well cared for manual. When I was younger and went to buy a new game, I would generally rip open the plastic on the car ride home and read through the manual, building anticipation for actually playing the game. These days, I drive myself, so that particular enjoyment has been lost. However, I often still look first for the manual in order to get an idea of what to expect when I play.
Yet I find a lot of games these days don’t have them and I find this highly disappointing. One particular instance in which I believed it would be truly useful was with Assassin’s Creed III. I was having difficulty adjusting to the change in combat style from the previous games to the new one, and wanted to brush up on how to properly fight, so went looking for the manual. Of course, there was none, and I cried myself to sleep that night.
I’m still terrible at AC3, by the way.
But that’s not the point. The point is, manuals show a significant amount of care from the makers and helpfulness to the player. Many games had a brief history, introduction to the game/world, or character references. I always enjoyed going through the Kingdom Hearts manuals just to see what they said about the characters, and look through it when not playing the game, even though you can find all of those things in Jiminy’s Journal.
The lack of game manuals can probably be attributed to the change in gaming and technology culture over time. Reading has been left to the wayside while in-game tutorials have become the norm. It’s like the difference between picking up my dictionary or thesaurus, or searching for it online. Maybe this just speaks to me becoming part of an older generation of gamers that I notice the difference at all. In the end though, I’ll always remember the days where I would gleefully look through the manual to immerse myself in the game before even having the chance to play it.