Video games have advanced very quickly in the past few decades and as a result, the people who played Mario on the NES are the same ones playing Super Mario Galaxy . With the older games came a certain mentality, because of the game mechanics and what technology allowed at the time. For example, the inability to save the game at all, or the lack of access to walkthroughs or guides. With such games came the ideal that in order to play a game “properly” or more “authentically,” you should never use a walkthrough or a guide. I think this is nonsense and that even game developers have been expecting their audience to looks things up for years.
Dark Souls is a great example of this, where players are expected to communicate and work together to solve puzzles. The location of the DLC in the first game, for example, is quite difficult to find unless you at least have a vague sense of where it is. It’s easy to pick on Dark Souls , as there are entire communities online dedicated to giving you answers about nearly every detail of the series. This is clearly a result of the audience and game developers working with current technology to make an enjoyable game for everyone.
There are times, however, where this happy union of technology and video games is not so easy to understand. Recently, I bought my wife a 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D to go with it at her request. She began playing and almost immediately was extremely confused and needed to consult a walkthrough. In all honesty, I had to remember not to tell her off for it. I had to struggle through that game on the N64 without a guide at all and sometimes spent hours wandering around until I figured out what to do next. Surely it was more authentic to play the game without guides! But no, what happened with my wife was much more complicated. Though only a few years younger than I, she is used to games like Mass Effect that have ready guides on the internet for her use. She’s never had to wait for the modem to connect and hunt around forum after forum to find the right guide. Or, for that matter, go down to the store and simply buy the guide.
No, she’s used to having Google and millions of people who have already worked together to build a walkthrough. I think we all have to keep in mind that this isn’t cheating. It doesn’t dilute your game experience as anything less “authentic” than if you had pretended the internet didn’t exist. What this is, is using the tools you have at hand, just like Zelda and Minecraft taught you. Just because that tool, the internet, happens to be outside of the game, doesn’t mean you can’t use it.
Furthermore, game developers are not your parents. They need to know what the latest technology is and how to use it. And frankly, I think it’s rather clear that they keep walkthroughs and guides in mind when they make games. Dark Souls is the most obvious, but a game like Uncharted 4 is less so. Naughty Dog did not make any secret about the development of the game, giving glimpses of gameplay like BioWare gives leaks. People are able to glean all sorts of cool details from those and readily share them. If you don’t mind spoilers, you probably know your way through at least a quarter of the game by the time it comes out. This is certainly a great deal more than NES days, where the only way you knew a game was even coming out was when you saw a commercial on TV or perhaps a magazine article.
So don’t be afraid to go through an entire game with a walkthrough open beside you on your phone or computer. It’s not cheating and it’s not any less “authentic”. Your experience will not be diluted in any way, and if it’s a good game, it will hold up suitably. Whether a game is easy or hard to play, it shouldn’t matter. The developers know what choice in walkthroughs you have and will continue to work within that paradigm to support the amazing experience of their game.
Image Credit: cad-comic.com