How I learned to love video game guides – Reader’s Feature

A reader explains how he went from regarding guides as cheating to a vital part of the video game experience.

I will go with thee,
and be thy guide,
In thy most need
to go by thy side.

Surely it is a great comfort to have a guide by your side in your moment of need.

Back in the original PlayStation and N64 era, I visited my sister and saw my nephew, Edward, playing Zelda: Ocarina Of Time while following a lavishly illustrated book. I was shocked. What was the point in merely following instructions? I had played all the Tomb Raiders on PS1 without guides and felt the sense of discovery and finding out for yourself was an essential part of the adventure of gaming.

So, I do understand!

But time and experience taught me something more complex and interesting; I came to realise all the beauty of a guide and how it can actually add to the adventure of a game.

Good guides are substantial and collectable objects, full of illustrations of your favourite heroes and villains, beasts and locations.

In the ‘old days’ games came with nice, fat instruction booklets and I am one of those people who dearly miss not only their contents but their smell and weight in the game case.

In the absence of these a game guide is a generous act of defiance; a super booklet stuffed with information and perhaps even competing with the game in its physical presence and the joy it can bring!

The secret is knowing how to get the most out of the game and the guide; dipping in when you are stuck and getting fed up or are completing a level and wondering if there is more.

Hidden secrets perhaps? It is very exciting knowing there is a secret something and finding your way to it; it can often be very challenging and something you may never have experienced without a guide.

Obvious examples are the FromSoftware games; there is so much more to discover and explore in every encounter and level, and with their beautifully produced guides I have adventured many a perilous side path and completed countless obscure and difficult quests.

A guide is neither your master nor your servant, but occupies a subtle position that can be tempting, reassuring or challenging and it is up to you, the guided, to manage this relationship, to challenge temptation and openly accept the empowerment of reassurance.

Potentially, a beautiful relationship.

So, I have come to see a guide as a compliment to a game and in some ways the physical counterpart of the digital artefact. They make the experience more solid in every sense!

Sitting securely on my bookshelf, offering their selfless support when I most need them…

Who could refuse their company? You really are cheating yourself not to…

By reader John Weston

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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