With the advent of video games and the internet also came the onset of walkthroughs, guides which tell you how to play a game and get through the story. They can vary in complexity, from telling you only the main points of what to do, to literally spelling out how to cover every little corner. This is something which pisses off a lot of gamers and is a source of endless debate and discussion.

In their defence, people who hate walkthroughs are coming from an understandable place. The point of a game is to immerse yourself in another world. You get involved in a story, learn to master the controls and gameplay and in turn, get to experience the joy of working things out and finding interesting discoveries by yourself. Easter eggs can be considered as nice little rewards for the hardcore gamers who go all out and try and get everything they can out of a game. They may feel like it’s something they’ve earned for getting so invested in the game. When other people essentially use a manual and get those trinkets for hardly any work, it can seem like the other people didn’t really “deserve” the prize by comparison.

Complicating the issue is that games, unlike other forms of non-interactive media, require the player to act in certain ways in order to proceed through the experience. When you listen to a song, all you have to do is listen; only the music actually stopping will affect your ability to listen to it. A video game, however, only really progresses in the way you’re able to play it.

In addition to this, people play games for all kinds of reasons and to some, I’m sure, playing a game in any way besides “optimally” feels like a waste of time. There are plenty of games that have “miss-ables”, which are sometimes designed so a new player would only know about them if they had actually read or heard about it beforehand. Some people don’t feel like trekking back through a lengthy game just to hit a few more side quests or recruit certain characters. While there are some notable exceptions, not doing them shouldn’t make it seem like your play-through was an “incomplete” experience.

“Some people get more enjoyment from actually doing something”

The biggest reason as to why people resort to using game guides are because of the time investment games require. Most of us aren’t teenagers with all the time in the world. As we get older and go further through life, we get more commitments; as students, we have reports, problems sheets and assignments to catch up amongst other things. As can be expected, this means there are fewer and fewer opportunities to play games.

Some games are also long, complex and require hours of investment to get through. While this is arguably part of the fun and experience, some people get more enjoyment from actually doing something than wandering around aimlessly and hoping that they stumble on the way forward. That’s just how some games are designed; given that, it’s no wonder people use walkthroughts to speed things along. For other people, using walkthroughs is just another way to get through their Steam library as fast as they can. That’s what I’m personally guilty of doing, I blame all the great value Steam sales that just keep on coming.

Of course, walkthroughs aren’t the only way to get out if you get stuck. A simple set of actions like pausing the game, doubling back a little and working your way through can be more productive than you might think. And sometimes, all you need to do is to turn off the game, sleep on it, and come back to the problem with a fresh mind.

At the end of the day, I’d say that as a player, you should simply engage in some introspection about how you personally experience things, about how your brain digests experiences, and then decide from there how playing certain games would best suit your tastes. Because honestly, while it may seem like there’s only one way to play a game, such as going in blind and learning things for yourselves, you should ultimately do what seems the best for you. We all just want to get the best possible gaming experience from each game. Sure some people may denounce walkthroughs, but at the end of the day, they just help people enjoy and get through the game in their own way. And as long as everyone is having fun, who are we to really complain.