RIP, Gaming Instructions! Digital Games Are Sweeping the Gaming Industry

RIP, Gaming Instructions! Digital Games Are Sweeping the Gaming Industry

By Niyanna Jeffcoat

Memo to Members Staff Writer

Figure 1. How times change! The familiar instructional brochures that came in the package with physical games are going the way of the Dodo bird. In their place is a tiny chip containing all the software for a ready-to-play digital game.

The video game industry strives to drive us closer to the future, but in so doing it is making detailed instructions and documents for video games a thing of the past.

Just a few years ago, the creation of Virtual Reality, realistic character customization, and detailed open worlds seemed impossible. Now they are a reality that has revolutionized the gaming industry by “broadcasting” digital games into the homes of gamers worldwide–games you can download onto your console without having to check availability in the store. By freeing gamers from standing in line for a popular game’s release, digital games have jumped into the spotlight.

This rise in digital games accelerated during the pandemic when quarantined students, families, and young adults found themselves penned up inside their homes with too much time on their hands. Downloading games onto their PCs, laptops, or consoles took away the effort needed to go purchase games and made wasting time easy. Digital games were convenient, but they also took away the familiar instructions that came in the package.

Now, copies of physical games purchased in the store are practically empty cases, filled only with a single object—the game itself. Nintendo’s console, the Nintendo Switch, is the most notable example of this change. A tiny game cartridge is the only thing in a case three times its size.

In the past, the literature that came with physical games included game manuals, posters, and discounts and offered sneak peeks into upcoming releases from the developers. These documents were cherished keepsakes for their buyers, and now they’re gone. Technical writers created and designed game manuals that offered tutorials, guides, and system requirements. These manuals were read over and over again by excited children, teens, and adults as they embarked on their video journeys.

With the rise of digital games comes the decline of physical games and the technical and marketing documents that stuffed game cases and fueled excitement by informing gamers of what was to come.

Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, and PC gaming platforms have all shifted into a digital gaming experience, neglecting the experience and opportunities physical games with manuals offered.

Now, the technical and marketing documents that spark gaming nostalgia are disappearing from the stores. With every new game comes another forgotten experience.

Ah, for the “good old days.”

But there’s still hope for technical communicators in the form of new tech comm opportunities in the robust gaming industry. The transition of video games into the digital age created new jobs with many titles like UX writer, copywriter, and content writer. There are a multitude of digitized paths for video-game lovers in tech comm, from how-to guides to videos and articles. While physical manuals fade away from the cases bearing digital disks, they are now reimagined to match the times we’ve entered.

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