Where Have all the Booklets Gone?

Last week I ordered Breath of the Wild. A couple days ago I started it. The dialog I’ve been having with myself about the game is a story for another post but it really brought my attention to something.

Where have all the booklets gone?

Remember those? A little book that would come with the game you bought that gives you a short background of the game/story and overview of the controls? We’d stuff them inside the dust jackets of the NES cartridges or in the holders on the opposite side in the game disc case. Rarely, but sometimes, looking to these little things when in a frustrated moment you’re asking yourself “How the heck do I do this?!”

Hell, even World of Warcraft had one of those little books. Okay it was a bit bigger than what was in our console games, but it had one!

And my Switch Game Cases? Those holder tabs are still there as if there should be a book or insert for it to hold and not just my receipt for the game.

BOTW finally made me wonder out loud what happened to these things when I was stumbling around going “Okay, but HOW do I kill the boar? I hit it with my arrow.” (That one was answered on Google. Thanks for that.) And “So I need a fish. Do I need a fishing pole? Do I have one? How do I use it once I find it?” (That one took a bit more digging to figure out what I’m supposed to it. Spoilers, there is no fishing rod…)

I’ve probably answered my own question here. Google. We’ve got walk throughs online and even in physical book form we can access. We have reddit threads, wikis, and fan sites. The answer is but a well typed question away.

While convenient, that breaks the magic for me. If it’s a computer game, I’m now tabbing out the game to open a browser and go look for it. On the couch with my Switch I’m now pulling out my phone to try and find the answer.

Granted, grabbing a book to look at would be similar, but usually you flip through those before starting the game. At least, I used to. The last few games I’ve started I’ve felt like I’ve been just tossed into the world with the expectation that I’m already supposed to know how everything works when it comes to how to play and the controls. (Stardew Valley, Smash, BOTW…)

While I don’t care for the stop and start, grab my phone and figure it out, I’m grateful for it. I’m super grateful for the friends I have that play the same game that take a moment to explain where in the menu something is, or which button does what (and how to remap that stuff.) In a weird way, it makes us more social. Gives us something to bond about and share with each other.

While I technically don’t have an official answer to why we no longer have game book inserts, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in my curiosity. During the latest “OMG YOU HAVE TO PLAY A ZELDA GAME” conversation with my friend CJ, that ridiculous bassist in all those music snippets I posted on Twitter a couple weeks ago, he found it curious too. There’s just nothing there anymore.

Anyway, happy Video Games day. Game on friends and we’ll talk about BOTW soon.

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