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Riding the FAQ train

posted on July 17th, 2008 by derek

While they’re called “walkthroughs,” I’ve always been under the impression that very few gamers actually “walk through,” point by point, every single bit of advice and strategy that exists in these documents. Since I have a profound belief in the desire of humans to be lazy and cheat their way through life, I of course realize that there are some people who do just that; getting every magical item and NPC not through the joyous act of discovery, but the ponderous reading of, and then reacting to, an online how-to guide.

However, I never thought I’d see what I noticed today. A man, adorned in a marginally ridiculous dark suit & bright orange tee-shirt, reading (actually, more like studying) his printed-out f.a.q / walkthrough on the train. His brow furrowed, he apparently doesn’t waste enough time playing “Metal Gear Solid: 4” at home, and doesn’t derive enough pleasure from it while crammed into his under-lit and lonely apartment, but must try to induce further happiness by obsessing about it – grad-student-style – while on the train.

This seemed (to me, at least) strange and pathetic enough. However, he had decided to up the ante by binding it into a laminated resume-style glossy dust-jacket thing, as if he were trying to impress… who? Certainly no female would want to spent time with such an obsessive loser: “you’re preg-what? sorry, hon, I think I’m finally working out how I’m gonna defeat the Medusa-robot [or whatever the fuck that thing is called].”

Then it occurred to me that the walkthrough was in a resume-style holder because he very easily could have been applying to some sort of strategy guide publisher, which would explain why he was obsessing about it and everything. Which made me feel like a jerk, and made me realize that I was the real loser, heading out to my decidedly less fun and lower paying job than the one he was maybe applying for. Next stop: frown town.


  1. TrueTallus said on July 17, 2008:

    Perhaps he was even more noble than you eventually imagined: a pro-bono tipster going over the newest version of his latest offering to Gamefaqs. I’d like to shake the hands of more than a few people who’ve taken the time to exhaustively detail games enough so that I can find the answers I’m looking for painlessly and free of charge. It’s their socially damning obsession that lets me find out how to unlock all the ships in R-type Final without weeping in frustration.

  2. Wesley said on July 18, 2008:

    Hear, hear, Tallus. I would never have beaten & enjoyed Shadow of the Colossus without the help of some benevolent stranger on Gamefaqs, and it has become one of my favorite games as a result.

  3. Horatio said on July 18, 2008:

    Maybe you just missed the pornography that was undoubtedly inserted inside.

  4. TrueTallus said on July 20, 2008:

    SotC is a great example of the kind of game that benefits from Gamefaqs, Wesley. You COULD buy a strategy guide for $20 to tell you the solution to a particular Colossus, but being able to zip over to a faq makes so much more sense from both time and “I spent the money so I’d might as well read the whole thing – oops I ruined the game” standpoints.

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