Hello, GIO!  This is Azure Moon and welcome to my fourth blog!  If you wish to know more about me, feel free to visit my home page!  Thank you for reading, and enjoy!



Strategy Guides

They have been a subject of debate for many years, and in this blog, I want to discuss them and reveal the truth about strategy guides and the people who use them.  I'm going to do this by discussing and dispelling many myths about Strategy Guides, starting with one of the most common ones I hear.


Myth #1:  People who use strategy guides use them because they are inept gamers.

You know, I can't help but chuckle at this ludicrously IGNORANT comment.  There are many reasons people buy strategy guides, but "they are inept gamers" is NOT one of them.  Honestly, using strategy guides is not a matter of skill level.  I'm now going to tell you the REAL reasons people use strategy guides.  They may buy a strategy guide because of only one of these reasons, or they may buy them for a combination of these reasons.

#1: People use strategy guides because they are not too proud to admit that they sometimes need help on a game.  Now, you may be thinking, "But if you need help in playing a game, doesn't that make you inept?"  No, it doesn't.  Sometimes even the best players need help in understanding certain parts of a game.  Sometimes there are points in a game where you are bashing your head against a wall because you can't figure out what's going on, or what you are doing wrong, and a strategy guide can help clear that up real quick.  That leads me to my next reason.

#2: People use strategy guides to save time.  This is very true.  A strategy guide can mean the difference between a long, excruciatingly frustrating time on a game and a pleasantly fun time on a game.  Strategy guides have a way of streamlining your gaming experience, and that's not a bad thing, especially when you have many games in your backlog.  Another reason people buy strategy guides for this reason is because some people don't have the luxury of investing a ton of time into one game.  I'm speaking of adults in particular.  Some gamers have careers that demand a great deal of their time and some even have families.  Those gamers sometimes can't play games as often or as much as others because they not only have their job to factor in, but they also want to spend time with their spouse and/or children.  So, for these people, a strategy guide can be a real life saver.

#3: Collecting.  Now this can mean a few different things.  Some people want to be able to collect everything in a game, such as collecting items, weapons, armor, etc.  Strategy guides can help you with that and more!  Some people want to collect anything that has to do with a certain game.  Some people get REALLY into certain games or game series and they show that by not only buying the game, but buying the merchandise that goes with it, such as keychains, plushies, statues, and other collectable items.  So why not strategy guides?  It is not only a treasure trove of information on weapons, armor, items, spells, abilities, battle classes, character profiles, and the game itself, but it also has GREAT artwork.  The image below is an example of that.



Myth #2:  Using a strategy guide is the same thing as cheating!

No, it's not.  This has to be THE most common myth I hear, and it's just as I said, it's a myth.  Yes, there may be detailed information on puzzles and solutions to problems in the game, but YOU decide on whether you want to be privy to that information or not.  The only thing in gaming that I would consider "cheating" would be cheat codes and cheat codes and strategy guides are NOT the same thing.  Cheat codes directly alter your gaming experience, for example, they can allow you to have infinite life, or to have ultimate offense or defense, or they can unlock levels or artwork.  Strategy guides are there to do just as the name suggests, it guides you through the game, and you can decide to take that guidance or leave it.  That leads to the next myth.


Myth #3:  People who use strategy guides read it like a book.

Not necessarily.  Some might, and that's perfectly ok, but some don't.  Personally, I don't read through THE ENTIRE THING.  The way that I use strategy guides is that as I play the game, I have the guide within reaching distance so that when I hit a snag, I can look it up and see what's going on.  After I figure out what I'm doing wrong, I fix it in the game, and then I put the guide aside.  I don't use it for EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING THAT HAPPENS IN THE GAME.  I only use the strategy guide when I need it, and to be honest, I don't always do what it says.  I sometimes use a different tactic to fix the problem.  Strategy guides are tools, they are there to help you when you need help, or to offer advice when you are developing a strategy for your next move.


Myth #4: People who buy strategy guides buy them for every game they play.

No, they don't.  There are two main reasons why this particular myth is not true.

#1: People don't always buy strategy guides for every game they buy.  There may be some people that try to buy a strategy guide for every game that they buy, but some don't.  I personally don't.  Now that I think about it, I usually only buy guides for three different series.  I buy them for the Elder Scrolls games because the Elder Scrolls games are HUGE and INCREDIBLY COMPLEX.  There is so much going on with those games that I have made a strategy guide a MUST HAVE for them.  The next series is the Suikoden series.  Mainly, I get a guide for these because in every game there are 108 Stars of Destiny (characters), and I have found a strategy guide invaluable to finding them all!  The other series is Final Fantasy.  My first guide was the Final Fantasy VII Strategy Guide, and I found it very helpful in playing that magnificent game.  So, I think it's a bit more of a habit for me to get a strategy guide for them now...I have guides for some other games, but I mainly get guides for those games or games that are similar to them, such as Kingdom Hearts (I just now remembered that I usually get guides for those too!)

#2: Not all games have strategy guides.  I think this is the more logical reason as to why Myth #4 is not true.  Not all games have strategy guides, a lot do, but not all of them.  I have found that the more complex a game is, the more likely it will be that it will have a strategy guide.  Some games are too simple or straight forward to really need a guide, so what's the point in making one?  I have personally seen the vast majority of guides be for games that are RPGs or Tactical-based.  There are other genres as well, but I have personally seen that these usually get guides, because, let's face it, these are the more complex and in-depth games in the industry.


Myth #5: If I buy the strategy guide, too much of the story will be spoiled for me!

You know, this is one of the most valid and understandable myths.  It's frustrating when the game has been spoiled for you, and to be honest, if you're not careful, strategy guides could do that.  My advice to you would be to NOT READ TOO FAR AHEAD.  I cannot stress this enough.  Only read what you need to do now and don't go too far ahead in the guide.  This was especially true for the earlier guides, but I have found that newer ones are getting to be better at warning you when spoilers are coming up.  One in particular was Skyrim's strategy guide.


This is a page from the strategy guide from Skyrim.  Do you see that little piece of red up there at the top?  There is a bar with it being half full and it says "MINOR SPOILERS".  In the guide, the bar usually isn't there, which means that there are no spoilers.  Then there are times when the bar above shows up, which means that there are some spoilers, but not really enough to ruin your entire gaming experience if you accidentally read something you shouldn't have.  Then there's another one that shows up and it's completely full and it says "MAJOR SPOILERS", which means DON'T READ THIS unless you are currently doing this or you've already done it.  Basically, these bars are there to warn you to be careful when reading a page, and it was great system to use.  So, generally speaking, you just need to be careful when reading a strategy guide, and more modern guides are taking steps to help you out with that, so don't stress too much about it!


Myth #6:  Okay, I admit I need help, but I don't need a strategy guide to help me.  I'll just Google it!

Well, this is a bit of a "yes and no" situation.  Yes, going to the internet is very helpful, just as helpful and sometimes more so than using a strategy guide, but if you rely on using the internet for help, you can become a victim of time.  Let me explain:  Searching your problem on Google is great when the game you are playing has been out for a while.  If the game just came out yesterday, yeah, that could be problem.  You see, everyone is basically in the same boat as you.  They're all playing the game and they may have the same problems you are having and some industrious individuals may have posted their solutions online, but a lot haven't.  So, you end up with not a lot of information available to you.  One of the biggest selling points for strategy guides is the fact that you have the solution IMMEDIATELY.  You don't need to wait for someone else to figure out the problem (or you having to find out the hard way), you have the solution right there in the guide.  

Another thing that gets me sometimes is when people go back to Myth #2 and think that using a strategy guide is cheating, but yet they will go online to solve a problem that others would solve with a strategy guide.  That doesn't make sense to me.  You're basically doing the same thing, one's just more "official" than the other.  I sometimes don't get people's reasoning...



Overall, a strategy guide is a tool to enhance your gaming experience.  It is not "cheating", nor is it for people who have poor gaming skills.  I hope that this blog was very informative and I also hope that people will understand that just because you use a strategy guide, it doesn't make you an inferior or even a superior gamer to someone who doesn't.  For those who choose not to use strategy guides, I completely respect your decision, but don't make the mistake of believing that you are a superior gamer because you don't use strategy guides.  That is simply not true, and if you insist on thinking that you are superior to everyone else, use a something that is not as petty or, frankly, as insignificant as "I don't use a strategy guide".


Well, that's it for my fourth blog on Strategy Guides!  I hope you all enjoyed it!  Feel free to sound off in the comments, I look forward to hearing your opinions!  Have a great week!  Thanks!

-Azure Moon



This has been "The Truth About Strategy Guides" by Azure Moon on GameInformer.com.