Stir: Gaming Guides


Welcome to Stir.  The rules for this series are simple.  I pick a topic and send it to all the writers, editors and staff at Platform Nation.  They have roughly a week to send me their opinion on the topic.  It can be a single sentence or several paragraphs.  even though all of us here at the Nation are avid gamers, we tend to have a wide variance in our opinions on any given topic.  If you agree, disagree, or have a completely different viewpoint – I hope you will share it will all of us in the comments below.  Time to Stir!


Alan Emrich, a game strategy guide author since the 1970s, has an interesting take on gaming guides.  In his article What I Observed As The Barbarians Stormed The Gates or also more simply titled Decline Of Guides, Emrich points out that there are two types of guides; official and unofficial.  Official guides are written as the game is made.  This usually involves some sort of deal between the author and the publisher and is based on what the game will be when finished, or what it is on paper.  Official guides are written this way because they are made available on the same day (or before) the game is released.  Unlike these official guides, unofficial guides come out some time after the game has been released and is based on actual play of the released game.  He attributes the downfall of official guides to the publisher’s haste in bringing the guides to market along side of the game, leaving them with errors and incomplete information.


Cooper Bibaud | Thirsty Robot | Profile | Twitter |
To be honest I’ve never fully understood these things. I don’t know where they come from, who conjures them up, or what happens to them. To me they’ve always just been a decoration for videogame stores to keep at the counter where you buy your games, and as far as I knew that was there only purpose. That was back when I was a kid, before online gaming guides. Nowadays they’re even more of a mystery to me. Who buys these things? They’re usually incredibly overpriced, come with little to no goodies, and only tell you what you can find somewhere else for free. Sure you’re missing out on some nice glossy pages, but really, what are you going to do with it? Not only are you ruining the point of spending 60 bucks on a game by having someone else direct you through it, spoiling every puzzle or obstacle in your path that the game designers work years on building, but it’s just a waste of literally everything. Time, paper, money, etc.

I could see getting something like it (if you absolutely have to) to help extend the life of a game after you’ve completed it and you want to go back through and master it or collect some things. But to buy one off the bat or to pick one up to help you along the main quest in a game really annoys me. I’ve always been one to force myself to figure out everything on my own. Games are supposed to be challenging, it’s not just a story or something that you watch unfold before your eyes. That would be like a kid buying a Kinder Egg that’s already been eaten and the toy inside already built. Stupid.

Verdict? The game guide wizard out there should be slayed and these foul things should be put to rest. They’re a waste of everyone’s time, and at the end of the day they are just killing our planet, and the brains of the people who buy them.

Sarah Brannan | FFXPrincess | Profile | Twitter |
I’m a big fan of game guides! I don’t use them with every game, just the bigger ones like the Final Fantasy series, Kingdom Hearts, Folklore and White Knight Chronicles. The game guide for Final Fantasy X was a lifesaver, and I’ve been using them since.   (Also see Sarah’s article, Are You A Cheater?!?)

Steven Buccini | PickaNumber123 | Profile | Twitter |
Gaming guides are worthless pieces of trash.  I have had the pleasure of never owning one, but I have had the misfortune of guiding someone through a game with one.
Pretty much, they take all the fun out of games.  Game makers put puzzles in games to challenge you and make you think, not to frustrate you and make you  rage quit.  Trust me, game makers pour untold amounts of work into the tiniest puzzles making sure they fit the play appropriately, and that people figure out how to solve them within the biggest amount of time.
I know some people use them to find all the hidden power-ups and collectibles.  I have less of a problem with this, because I sometimes use guides to find collectibles so I can earn that last achievement.  But, why can’t just look up the walkthroughs online for free?   Obviously, some people are still stupid enough to pay for these pieces of crap.  If you are one of these people, please TELL  ME WHY!

Nathan Hardisty | Bananahs | Profile | Twitter |
I was playing through the God of War trilogy for all of this month and for the first two games; it was absolutely impossible without a game guides. Games back then were designed to be played with a special social aspect to them; asking your friends how they got past the giant Minotaur for instance. Using a guide nowadays is pretty much redundant seeing how the difficulty scale means that yesterdays ‘Normal’ is todays ‘Hard’. I only see using a guide for those monotonous collectables like the feathers in Assassins Creed II. I think there’s more of a sense of accomplishment when you do it on your own though.

Brian Heitzenrater | FrehleyzComet | ProfileTwitter |
Gaming Guides, how I used to love thee. That was back in the day before I knew of places like and I used to buy a lot of gaming guides, but then again, I used to play a lot of rpg’s. That was what I mainly used them for. I loved using them for the lists of weapons, armor, items, spells, and other fun things associated with role playing games. I would stay away from the walkthrough unless I was really, really stuck. I still apply that same principle today when using guides online. I never followed them religiously as I’m sure some people did. I just always felt that I would be spoiling the game if I did.

One other factor that keeps me from buying them nowadays is the price. I used to buy them for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era games. The games were a good $10 cheaper and the guides were almost $10 cheaper too. I shudder to think what people will be paying for stuff like this in another 10 years from now. That is if gaming guides are even still around.

Andrew Hunt | Boss Kamikaze | Profile | Twitter |
Gaming guides; The things that expose all the dirty little secrets of a game. The only problem with them now is the ever popular online walkthroughs. Do they make the hardback gaming guide irrelevant? Don’t get me wrong, these online walkthroughs are great and very, very detailed but the only thing they lack is the feeling of owning your own hardback gaming guide for them few games you love. To me these gaming guides aren’t just “bits of paper” with “tips, tricks, maps & secrets” about a game, instead (in my eyes at least) I think they can be classed as a collectors item. You can print all the online guide pages you want but it won’t have the same feeling as owning one of these babies. At the end of the day it’s all down to personal prefrence but if you are willing to shell out the money. Buy the hardback one!

Adam Jagger | Krazy XP | Profile | Twitter |
Game Guides. I don’t buy game guides very often purely because of the existence of the internet. I know if I was to buy a guide, the information, crudely drawn maps, or pointless mission walkthroughs would be up on the internet within days, in a FAQ in the corner of some website. I end up having to force myself to buy game guides in some cases. At the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. I bought the game guide, and used it every single playthrough, so I could get all the collectables and achieve 100%, but I would only use the “story” walkthroughs if I was given a game-changing decision and had to know which choice would benefit me better. Which meant that 80% of the book I wouldn’t use.

I laugh these days when I see a game guide for Forza Motorsport 3. The game is pretty darn straightforward and I don’t need a book to tell me to turn left or right. I will buy a game guide for every Rockstar Games game purely because of the content, but I will not waste my money in 300 pages of BS about a game like Crackdown 2. Unfortunately Game Guides < Internet

William Johnson | StylelessKnave | Profile | Twitter |
I used to buy strategy guides like crazy eight teen years ago. For every Pokemon game I bought, I would beg my mom to get me a strategy guide the next week, or as soon as I hit what ever cave, or mountain area that I couldn’t personally venture through. Damn you HM Flash. Now fast forward from my youth to my teens, discovering sites like and I discovered that all the information I needed could be found from my own house!

I think that published guide books are something like dinosaurs, or the next Golden Girl. Close to extinction, or already a thing of the past. Though they are still being sold, and being bundled with games. But the thing is, why do I need to purchase a strategy guide for an extra $15.00 to $20.00 when I can easily jump on my laptop, conveniently adjacent to my gaming center, head to and find whatever game I’m stuck on and navigate through the guide for free? Especially now where every other game promises downloadable content, and with DLC comes an extra strategy guide to be published. So I can buy a game, the strategy guide, and then a few months down the line when DLC comes out, so will another strategy guide. So if I’m really hardcore about looting gear and achievement hunting, instead of chucking out the cash for guides that’ll become either irrelevant, or unneeded after their first use, I’ll go ahead and jump online and check out the communities tips and tricks for free.

Tym Kaywork | vttym | Profile | Twitter |
The following was taken from Tym’s article Game Guides: Too Much Of A Good Thing.  “Not everyone needs help in the same way, and its time that game guides and help websites understood that. I don’t want to be handfed everything. I want to be nudged in the right direction sometimes, but I still want the sense of accomplishment from (mostly) figuring it out. Don’t rob me of that by plastering the entire solution in front of me.  Have it available, just not jumping off the page and shouting at me to read it (and the 10 other solutions below it).”

Stewart Loosemore | Stigweird85 |  ProfileTwitter |
Gameguides can be a good thing for certain games like Mass Effect, Fallout etc. Games where it is impossible to see and do everything in one playthrough. I use them on occasion get missions or items I’ve missed as this help expand the games life. I’m not a fan of guides for multiplayer or games where you are in direct competition with another player, to me that can give you an unfair advantage, just because you can spend an extra 20bucks. I also don’t understand people who buy a game and a guise the same day and play the game by the book, what’s the point of there is no challenge or adventure?

John McMahon | VastManatee | Profile |
I have used two guides in my gaming career solely because of my completionist personality: one for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and one for Final Fantasy VII. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have found all of the golden skulltulas or found the Knights of the Round materia if it weren’t for those guides. They took a large measure of frustration out of these extensive sidequests and made the hunt more enjoyable for me without making it seem like a wild goose chase. For epic RPGs, there is nothing wrong with a helping hand. For Pokemon, stop being lazy and figure it out.

Mervyn Robinson | Rut3g3r | Profile | Twitter |
I’ve used a few published guides to help me find hidden items – hidden packages in Vice City, COG tags in Gears, even dead birds (eww) in Condemned. I’m a sucker for special editions, though, and if a game comes with a fancy guide, I’m more than likely to pick it up. I’ve got a whole shelf given over to hardback books that I’ve only ever leafed through; I guess they add a bit of class to my games library, though? Special mentions go to the Fallout 3 and Zelda ones, and Killzone 2 , which – despite the averageness of the game – is the most detailed and best-looking guide I’ve ever seen. I swore that the Alan Wake one would be the last…

Jeff Schenning | JeffS49 | Profile |
I think gaming guides are definitely geared towards the younger generation…at least that’s when I enjoyed them.  It wasn’t just because I needed help getting through games though, or that this was before we were hooked up to the interwebs.  My favorite gaming guides added something to the atmosphere and story of their respective games.  Earthbound’s guide had some awesome claymation-style art for its baddie lists, and there were mock-ups of local newspapers and travel guides that carried on the humor of the game itself.

The guide for Zelda: A Link To The Past was almost an encyclopedia of supplementary lore – did you know that Ganondorf’s last name is Dragmire?  How about the backstory of the ocarina kid in the woods or Blind the thief?  I loved that book to tatters.  Now I’m not sure how much people use them, since we have online walkthroughs for every game imaginable, and storytelling within games themselves has progressed more.  But I’ll always remember reading them in the car or in a restaurant after being pried away from the console.

Ross Wigg | LostPoetB24 | ProfileTwitter |
Three years ago if you had asked this same exact question game guides may have been a more relevant topic. Unfortunately just like many things that were once printed game guides are slowly becoming obsolete. Many of the game guides now have found a home online or video tutorials have found their way to YouTube. Go to any game store and you will be sure to still find a slew of different game guides still sitting on the shelves waiting for someone to purchase them. They many times in a retail setting become the dust collectors or box fillers until they get sent to their final home of a dumpster. I personally dont believe that the game guides will every fully fade away in the next few years. I believe we will continue to see guides being published and distributed to game retailers for another few years before the well has finally run dry.

Mark Withers | moko7t8 | Profile | Twitter |
I love game guides and I think my fascination goes back to when they were the only real source of help before you could simply search online or watch a walk through on a streaming website.  These days I tend to buy the collector editions and find that they add to the whole gaming experience as they usually provide more back story to the characters and highlight areas which I may have skipped over during my play through.  Finally where I believe game guides come into their own in during a second play through, if you follow them to the letter then you will experience the game as the developer wants you to.


Chris Forbis | MensaDad| ProfileTwitter |
In all of my years of gaming I have only purchased three guides.  The first was purchased after playing Fallout 3 for over 100 hours and still feeling that I had much to discover.  I was right and the Fallout 3 game guide is a beautiful guide with tons of information for the weary wasteland traveler.  I certainly got my investment back just in additional game-play provided from the information in the guide.  The second was for Red Dead Redemption.  I expected the world to be huge and packed full of hidden side quests, etc. so I purchased the guide with my game (which was pre-ordered) on release day.  The guide was somewhat helpful, but not nearly as impressive as the Fallout 3 guide.  The difference being that it was very easy to miss things in Fallout 3 and not even know you had missed them.  With Red Dead Redemption linking to the Social Club online, I found there was very little additional information in the guide above and beyond what I could discover by myself.  The Third was for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.

If I get stuck in a game and get tired of trying to figure out a puzzle, or quest, or location, or whatever, and I only need a little info to get me back into the game…  Google knows.  Google always knows.

Thanks to all the Platform Nation writers who contributed to Stir this week.  They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them.

Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know what YOU think about GAMING GUIDES.  See you all next Saturday.

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  • Brian Heitzenrater (FrehleyzComet)

    Great read! I love reading through the other writer’s opinions and think to myself, “Oh man, that was a good idea. Why didn’t i think of that?” hehe.

    Awesome Article Chris! You have found a winner for P*N.

  • Chris is a wizard of creativity!