This may seem like a strange title, given that video games are generally paperless, but read on, dear friend and find out more…
Games have always involved paper in the form of the instruction manual. Back in the mists of time, I remember buying Knight Lore from Boots in Chester. It cost me a massive £9.99, but it did come in a huge box to justify the exorbitant price tag. I opened it while I waited for a lift home. Inside was a glossy game manual, detailing the games’s incredible (for the time) Filmation(TM) technology, as well as the cassette tape for the game itself.
Years later, PC games continued the fashion for large boxes. Quake and SiN wouldn’t even fit on my shelf, such was the hugeness of their casing. This trend continued for some time, until the industry came to its senses and PC game shrank into the same plastic cases as console titles. Shops displayed more stock, my bookshelves didn’t creak. Everyone was happy.
Recently though, things took a different turn. I bought a copy of FIFA 13 for the PS3. I should state at this point that I don’t like football. I never watch it, I don’t follow it, and World Cup fortnight is possibly my least favourite time ever. The only advantage is that the roads and shops are eerily quiet when England are playing, so it can be a chance to get things done.
Anyway, back to FIFA. Although I’m not in any way a football fan, I enjoy a kick about with my kids, both physical and virtual. Physically, I can hold my own, but virtually I always lose badly. No amount of button mashing can make the onscreen players do my bidding. I spend most of the game controlling the wrong player, hoofing the ball out of play, and sliding straight past the player I’m trying to tackle.
So I bought my own copy, with a plan of learning how to play properly so that I could beat my son. I cracked open the box at work, ready to read the manual and bone up on the controls prior to playing. However, the manual wasn’t there. That’s right folks. A fifty quid game had no manual. My first reaction was to hotfoot it back to the shop and complain. I did break the habit of a lifetime and buy it from a supermarket, where you take the empty box to the counter and a clueless member of staff goes to fetch the contents from a locked cabinet, while the ever-growing queue of people behind you fumes, less and less quietly.
A quick Google search though, informed me that this was as it should be. A paper manual was not available. Instead, it was available to download from the EA website as a PDF.
I was briefly annoyed until I remembered that I’m trying to go paperless. I had downloaded and Evernoted the PDF before you could say “Where’s the f***ing manual?”. Worries of losing the manual and never being able to play the game properly abated, as I daydreamed of it floating somewhere in the magical Evernote cloud, available to me at any time and place.
Paperless or not though, I’m still rubbish at FIFA, and my son roundly thrashed me (4-0) a few days later. I blame old age, or maybe the sheer amount of different moves that I need to learn!