Video game instruction manuals

baldurs gate 2 manual
Our copy of the Baldur’s Gate 2′ Instruction Manual — So thick it was spiral bound!

I miss those really big instruction manuals that used to come with games.  When I was younger, in 5th-8th grade, I would bring my instruction manuals to school with me and study them during recess.  I loved the information, pictures, and ability to bring my game with me wherever I go.  Maybe that’s what was so great about having those wonderful smelling, cheaply bound pages.

Back in 1996 I met one of my best childhood friends because I overheard him and a few other kids talking about a video game with a Sorcerer, Rogue, and Warrior. At the time I had no idea what the game was about, but I did my  best to pretend I had a clue so that I’d be included.  I remember begging my Dad to take me out to the store later that day to pick up a copy of Diablo.  When I got it home I ripped open (actually I carefully pealed back the tape) the box and pulled out the holy grail — my ‘in’ with this group of kids — the instruction manual.

Remember how big manuals used to be back then? Loaded with facts about potions, armor, spells, and everything we needed to know, or simply wanted to read about in the bathroom or on a lunch break.

Reducing costs, the internet, mechanical familiarity… I”m sure there’s a dozen reasons why instruction manuals disappeared.  I just know that I love them and what they represent.

  • I threw all of my boxes, disks and manuals out with the last house clean.

    I keep a photo album of memorable events in my life…otherwise I like to travel light. My steam library is full of games and they never get scratched or broken.

    You’re too young to wax so nostalgic Keen…my Atari, Coleco and Odyssey 3 were all lost in a flood that took several people as well. Since then I’ve chosen to only place value on irreplaceable things.

    Games are TV or comic books or Hot Pockets. Tasty, disposable diversions.

  • I remember being a kid, having my parents take me to Toys R Us and picking out a game for Sega Master System. As soon as we left the store with it, I’d rip it open the plastic clamshell box and delve into the book for the car ride home. Often by the time we got home, I’d be halfway into the book – and instead of running the cart to the tv and firing it up, I’d finish the book first. I’m not sure if that speaks to how great the books were, or what kind of person I was even at 7 years old.

    I still have all my game systems since Colecovision. I can spare a few boxes in a closet for the hobby that has given me a lifetime of enjoyment.

  • I still have all my Baldur’s Gate/Icewind Dale instruction manuals. I think the biggest manuals I remember were from that Jane’s military series(flight sims).

  • @Jim Comic books make for an odd benchmark of disposability. If I’d kept all the comic books I bought in the 60s, 70s and 80s in the condition they were when I bought them they’d be worth more than my house. A lot more. There’s traveling light and then there’s burning money.

    As for manuals, I work in a bookstore and every day I sell a manual or two for some software package that came with just a pdf file or a link to a web page. People like to have a book. And I still get my old Everquest manuals out and flick through them now and again.

  • Last big useful manual I can remember was for Xcom apocapypse.
    Loved it.

    Yes useful manuals where part of the experience.
    Often with pretty artwork and pictures in them.
    Some vivid in color. (super mario world for instance)

  • I’ve bought several MicroProse games off ebay that I used to own, just to have their instruction books. They are 5.25 disks so I couldn’t play them if I wanted to.