June 18, 2007 by Tim

I thought I would clarify my personal stance on “strategy” guides.

I am of the opinion that if you have attempted a game, and at some point find yourself truly stuck and unable to figure out how to progress, be it a key or puzzle you’re missing, then consulting a strategy guide or forum is a passable action. Games are intended to be fun, and there is no reason you should be unable to complete a game just because you’ve been stumped on a particular area.

In an example from personal experience, one of the emblems in the original Resident Evil stuck me. I searched the entire game, I spent hours retracing my steps, examining and reexamining all of the items in my inventory, searching for clues I may have missed. And I could not, for the life of me, find this second emblem I needed to unlock a door to continue. Finally I went online for some help. It turns out that a book I had picked up a while back had to be examined from a very particular angle (the pages side) in order to trigger it’s opening, and the discovery of the emblem tucked inside. There was no precedent set in the previous portions of the game for examining objects from different angles. Despite being able to rotate the object in many directions, examining it from any of them usually produced the same one or two line description.

I don’t doubt that some people happened to examine the book from the correct angle and it never posed a problem. I’m fairly certain that, having already looked over my inventory half a dozen times and not finding the solution, I never would have stumbled across the appropriate action, and would never have beaten the game. Sometimes, you just get stuck.

However, I have talked to and seen a great many “gamers” who purchase the walk-through strategy guides simultaneously with a new game, for the purpose of just following it step by step to the game’s completion. And to that I have to ask “What is the point? Why even bother? Just go watch a movie or something. What possible satisfaction can be garnered from beating the game that way?”

Perhaps it’s still as enjoyable for these people, I wouldn’t know. I don’t personally see it. I have to liken these gamers to the ones who purchase gold in MMOs. Where they find enjoyment in having things handed to them, I will never know. Wouldn’t the bragging of their accomplishments, be it their finding all the secrets in a game, or their shiny new Sword of +50 Dragon Slaying, ring hollow?

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