Today I’m talking about a kind of Information Design that has affected me in my life. I love to play Video games, and it’s always been that when you buy a new game, it comes with instructions to tell you how to play the game. Instruction Manuals sure have changed over the years. Allow me to elaborate.
When I was a kid I had a Super Nintendo, I remember the instruction manuals for these games having a lot of pages, which were colourful and many of which had illustrations of the characters in the game. The illustrations helped show you how the controls worked and told you important information about things in the game, but they were also just fun to look at.
Then something started to happen with later game consoles. The instruction manuals were starting to change. Perhaps it was a cost cutting measure for some companies, but many of the manuals starting in the PS2 era were much shorter, only around ten pages, and in black and white with maybe a few screen shots and no illustrations. The only exception seemed to be Nintendo. Up until games on the Wii the instruction manuals were still quite thick and plenty colourful, but for many games instead of using illustrations they just used screen shots and character models from the game.
Now with the current games things have changed even more.When I buy a new game and open the box instead of finding an instruction manual, instead I find a fold out telling me how to access the electronic manual. I really don’t care for these electronic manuals for a number of reasons. If I want to access the manual I have to suspend or close my game. Gone are the colourful illustrations. The designs now are very uniform and rigid looking with almost no colour and few screen shots, it’s mostly just text. I also feel like with some games these manuals just don’t give enough information. For the last Animal Crossing game there was so much information I wanted to know, so I bought the official game guide, which is over 500 pages.
Unfortunately I feel like instruction manuals aren’t really fun to look at anymore. I feel like it’s more of a chore just to read them with the way their layed out and the fact that their on a screen. I wish they could bring back the kind of instruction manuals I had when I was a kid.