Stop Telling Me What To Do!

There’s a certain pet peeve I have when it comes to games, one that has been coming up more and more as the years go on: over-tutorializing. I don’t know what exactly developers think of us, but they must not think very much considering their absolute refusal to just let us play their games. The handholding has gotten to such a ridiculous level that I actually find myself thinking fondly of the days when Navi (from Ocarina of Time) was the most infamous example. Seriously guys, let go of my hand already!

I really don’t get it the need for this, not at all; not even for new players. I could go all the way back to the SNES days and such, where we got exactly zero explanations outside of the manual or the PS/N64 days where we got a short explanation of each mechanic exactly one time, but I don’t need to. Even as recently as the PS3/Xbox 360 era, tutorial portions were kept short and to the point. Heck, some games still stuck to explanations that were almost entirely contextual. No anymore though.

From the PS4/Xbox One days onward, it seems like AAA developers have been getting more and more convinced that players are stupid, utterly incompetent people who couldn’t think their way out of an open room. A recent prime example of this is God of War Ragnarok, which absolutely refuses to let the player solve its puzzles. Seriously, if you take so much as 20 seconds to look around and take in the situation, Mimir some other character will immediately chime in and tell you exactly where to look and what to do. Thanks for ruining the fun guys. More than that, thanks for ruining the entire point of having puzzles in the first place.

Then there’s something like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s an otherwise fun game that is, unfortunately, utterly convinced that its players have the memory of a goldfish. I lost count of the number of times the same tooltips popped up telling me how to do things that I could have learned simply by pressing buttons. Even something as simple as firing Ratchet’s weapon apparently required several obnoxious reminders. Mind you, I was also playing on a higher difficulty, one that the game said was for people who knew what they were doing. Holy cow!

Whatever happened to letting us discover things for ourselves? Why are we no longer allowed to apply some critical thinking? Why are we no longer trusted to remember how even mechanically simple games work? It wasn’t like this before when all of these now standard gaming conventions were being established, so why is it like this now, when we should all be even more familiar with how everything works? It doesn’t just make for less complex, less interesting games, but it’s also downright insulting to me as a player.

I want to be allowed to fail. I want to be allowed to figure things out and possibly even get frustrated while I do. I want to be treated as a normal human with a functioning brain and not a child who’s never so much as even looked at a controller before. Even if one is a young player who’s entirely brand new to gaming, surely there’s a better way to bring them up to speed than refusing to let go of their hand for the entire game. Seriously, trust people to figure things out, and they will. Heck, they’ll even be grateful to you for allowing them to obtain the knowledge on their own!

So yeah, I want games to stop holding my hand. Not everyone is as utterly incompetent as the so-called game journalists over at the likes of Polygon and Kotaku. No, most gamers are actually capable of learning and figuring things out for themselves. Even very, very young kids are able to do to it, so shut up and let them (and us) play the game already!

How do you feel about hand-holding in games? Do you feel like it’s getting worse too?

Image sourced from PlayStation Blog


  1. WCRobinson says:

    I have noticed this – for example, game characters are often very vocal even when they’re alone, making sure the player knows exactly what they’re feeling or thinking. A lot of the time we can figure that out for ourselves.

    Sadly I think in terms of puzzles, it’s because we’re in a generation that is increasingly conditioned to keep things moving. If your game might get players stuck, it becomes less mass-streamable on Twitch etc., and I would imagine developers get data back showing where players fall off.

    I agree that this isn’t good though, because we need to be left to figure games out for ourselves, and the more hand-holding we get used to, the more it will happen. Maybe we need better customisation options for how long the game waits to give hints? I know some games already do this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      Some options would be good at least. Nice thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frostilyte says:

    Came by to say exactly what Mr Robinson already has. All of the over explained stuff is simply to keep the game going. I’m not actually sure if this helps with the abysmal completion rate that games have historically had though.

    I similarly wish there was more customization for this. One of my favorite things about the last Tomb Raider game was the ability to independently customize the game’s difficulty. This let players entirely turn off Lara’s hints while in puzzles or combat. The game was sooooooo much more enjoyable without her constantly spoiling everything like she had in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      That really was obnoxious wasn’t it? Spoiled the fun AND took you out of the experience all at the same time! 😐

      Liked by 1 person

  3. WCRobinson says:

    Great minds and all that… 😉

    I’m so conditioned now to expect characters to monologue out loud, that I have gotten used to it. It’s only when a housemate was watching me play A Plague Tale: Requiem and they remarked how much Amicia was talking to herself that I realised just how much it happens as standard.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      When did it happen, I wonder? I don’t remember it being very present until 2013 or so. Pretty sure Lara talks to herself a lot in Tomb Raider 2013…

      Liked by 1 person

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