Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Do we really need tutorials?

For me my first few moments in Minecraft were that of wonder and awe - but what comes next you ask? As the land finishes forming in your immediate vicinity and you look out over your forest, desert, beach or tundra - you begin to wonder what your first task should be - and this, in most games is where the tutorial aspect kicks in.

I've played a large amount of games over the past few years of my life, and have found that with nearly all of them, the player is given a set amount of tasks that they must achieve before they can enter the 'real game' - where they play without being shown exactly what to do. Even MMOs, which give the impression of being very open, place the same quests for every player to complete upon character creation and often show a small in-game demonstration of what needs to be done. Examples of such games would be Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft. They are both 'on the rails' for the first few minutes of game-play, something I quickly became accustomed to.

But are tutorials needed?

A few months ago, before Minecraft I would probably have said yes - but now, now I don't know. Game tutorials led me to become the gamer I am today. It has ingrained into me which buttons will probably be in control of movement, which creatures will be helpful and which ones will try to kill me upon sight. They taught me to attack strategically and without that, I wouldn't know half of what I now class as 'common knowledge'.

Here is where Minecraft comes in. I bought the game, I loaded it up and started my very own world, nothing too hard so far. I walked around and found my first problem, I didn't know how to destroy blocks. In other games to perform an action I had only needed to click using my mouse. This soon became a serious problem as night fell and monsters appeared, green upright blodges exploded as they got near to me, skeletons shot me as I ran away. In desperation I ran to the nearest wall and just held down on my mouse and pressed buttons on my keyboard. To my surprise the block before me broke and a few seconds later I had made a small hole I could hide in - perfect I thought, but what do I do now?

Time advanced, I read the wiki, looked info up on the forums and after about a week I had pretty much learned everything I could that wasn't too complicated. This was very different to any game I had previously played and I found I had really enjoyed the experience. Every time I learnt something new I felt that I had been the one who had accomplished this task, without any help.

 In these last few months I have watched many videos of other people's journey in Minecraft and every now and then, I see these same results. People recording themselves during their first time playing the game, each and everyone happier to be doing so. One great example of this is MinecraftChick. She started playing without ANY previous video game knowledge, and now - although she doesn't know everything, she has learnt a lot - she is evidently happier in her videos.

If I had to make a conclusion though I would say I believe video game tutorials will always be needed, simply not forced in everygame. Someone needs to be there who knows how to play to help others - to take notes on the correct way to execute a fight and so on. While I think this is needed I also believe that these games need a time when they can adventure on their own accord, as long as they know basic knowledge of the game, the rest will follow - and these can pass down their knowledge to others, which is fun for gamers new and old. I think I will leave it there for now, I don't believe I could ever come to a full decision on this topic myself.

Happy Gaming!
Michael :)

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I'm back!

    Nice post and it raises some good points.

    I have discussed similar in the past with WoW, how 'noobs' are hated on for learning and experiencing the magic on their own, without guides and helpers, the way I did way back in Vanilla.

    Guides and tutorials are great, right up until the point the steal the magic and become more important than the game itself.