Confessions of an Instruction Manual Junkie
I’m a fallen instruction booklet junkie who wants to relapse.
When I was younger, the product of GI Joe/Transformers upbringing that merged passive with immersive play and viewing, I dove into the instruction booklet of video games like Super Mario 2, hoping for further immersion into the world of that game. Bob-ombs, Shyguys, and Wart – all of the characters came to life in a booklet that was carefully tucked into the black plastic sleeve emblazoned with the red Nintendo logo (if it was from Nintendo, otherwise, it was just the black sleeve).
But now? You don’t read the instruction booklet. In fact, they’re a dying breed – and not without good reason. They’re tree-killing, snore-inducing tossables, plagued by redundancy thanks to the proliferation of “training levels” and a (personal) learning preference of “learn by doing.” In my game-playing, even reading the instruction booklet is a cardinal sin.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if game designers used the instruction booklet less as an instruction manual, but as a medium to tell a story that deepened the world of the game? It’s a pamphlet, stapled together. With images. You could even add words. And what would you have? A mini-comic book. Or an engrossing short story that is as well-written as the game is exciting to play — or better yet, an entirely new storytelling medium that offers players something extra for their sixty-plus dollars.
Additional, QUALITY content adds value. Why not make a tree-kiling relic of cartridge-sleeve storage past an integral and exciting part of the video game experience?