How To Play Video Games

Video games are the violins of popular entertainment. To play them requires knowledge and skill. To play them well requires practice and maybe a bit of advice.

We want you to enjoy video games, so we have some advice.

Our helpful tips are for anyone who is about to press a button, kill a mini-boss or match three gems. Our advice is for people who have never played video games before and for people who just finished re-making Mother 3 in Minecraft. Our advice is for the world's best Call of Duty players and the world's worst as well.

Here you go...

Before you start…

  1. If the game you're about to play has a numbered sequel, play the sequel. Unlike movies, the first one usually isn't the best.
  2. Keep a dulled fish filet knife near your gaming area. It makes opening shrinkwrapped game cases and the obnoxious DVD box seal on modern video game boxes so much easier.
  3. Don't read the instruction manual. The best games explain themselves.
  4. ALWAYS invert the Y axis. (No, don't!) (Yes, do!) Maybe consider inverting the Y axis.
  5. Turn the lights off for horror games.
  6. In sports, unless you have played this game — in video game form — for two or three years already, just set the difficulty to rookie. You'll learn faster and have more fun.
  7. Don't be afraid to play on "Easy"; games are for fun, not self-flagellation.
  8. If a game is condescending towards you for playing it on easy, turn it off and return it.
  9. Don't be a masochist; crank the in-game brightness setting so you can actually see that the logo/icon without straining.
  10. If you can, play the game on PC.

While you are playing…

  1. Be attentive to what the game designers are trying to tell you and look for in-game clues and cues.
  2. Always explore, because you're almost never really on the kind of hurry the game says you are.
  3. Defy the game's creators and break the game if you can. Finding shortcuts or smashing through ceilings to find the proverbial warp pipe is the essence of playing a video game
  4. Double-jump.
  5. In a role-playing game, talk to all non-player characters, just for the 1/100 chance they'll say something interesting.
  6. In a 2D sidecroller, first go left and see if they've hidden anything over there.
  7. Experiment with turning off or minimising the mini-map and the heads-up display; the game may be more fun if you have less information available to you.
  8. Give the soundtrack 60 minutes to impress you. If it doesn't, mute it for a podcast or TV show.
  9. Mute all menu music (if it's an option) after a day. This is especially important in sports video games as you spend a lot of time in menus during the season modes.
  10. Check out the control-layout screen a couple of times once you've been playing a new game for a few hours. It will probably remind you of one or two moves that you haven't been using and could experiment with.
  11. Until you have a good sense of how generous the game is with auto-saves, manually save often. Do an autosave stress-test early on where you find out when the game actually saves.
  12. Don't overwrite the same save file throughout the game — make a new save every so often, since you never know when you'll want to undo a few hours' worth of decisions. But limit your overall save file count, maybe to four, to give yourself options but not too many options.
  13. Turn subtitles on when you really care what's being said; off when you really care how it's being said.
  14. Don't skip the cutscenes but do set any text dialogue to maximum scrolling speed
  15. If you get the option, play the game in its original language.
  16. It's good to give games out of your comfort zone an honest try; genres cross-pollinate in weird ways. But its OK genuinely not to like something and just walk away.
  17. Save the princess.

If you're struggling...

  1. If you find yourself frustrated with a particular boss or action section, mute the sound and focus on the action on-screen.
  2. Don't let a game beat you; if you're getting angry, put it down and come back later.
  3. Ask a friend for help with a tricky puzzle, then ask Twitter, then check, and only then consider consulting a strategy guide for help.

If the game has multiplayer…

  1. Before deciding to skip multplayer, play one mode on one map for one hour and see if you like it better after that.
  2. When playing games online, don't say anything you wouldn't say in front of your mum.
  3. Mute anyone who didn't take the preceding advice.

If the game is on Facebook…

  1. Wait instead of paying. If the game stops you mid-session and give you those two choices, deciding to wait will both save you money and will help ensure that game is really worth playing again.
  2. Don't let the game brag about you.

If the game has motion controls …

  1. Don't bother with motion control unless that is the only way to play the game.
  2. Steer with buttons or wheels, not by tilting the controller or the phone because the latter is just too unreliable.

If the game is on the Wii or for the PlayStation Move…

  1. Don't waste your time with the wrist-strap.

If the game is on an iPhone or other handheld...

  1. When playing on the bus, take an inside seat so that you can hide your super-groovy handheld wonder machine from potential muggers.
  2. Check Google to see if you're playing a clone. If you are, play the original instead.
  3. Use headphones, not the system's speakers.
  4. Dim brightness to save battery life. Go into aeroplane mode for the same reason.
  5. Be sure to check if the game has more than one control option. Sometimes the default touch-screen controls aren't the most comfortable or responsive.
  6. Turn off Twitter notifications. No one cares.

If the game is on a Nintendo 3DS…

  1. Bravely set the 3D slider to max — and nudge it down from there.

We've got plenty more advice, but that should help you out for now.


How can we forget? One last one, in visual form...


    I should have listened to that inner voice and not read this. It was a good idea but the execution came off a bit..elitist and even condescending in places.

    I could be wrong, but I also think they forgot the most important thing. How to play video games? Have fun with them!

    "ALWAYS invert the Y axis. (No, don’t!) (Yes, do!) Maybe consider inverting the Y axis."
    This made me chuckle.

    "ALWAYS invert the Y axis. (No, don’t!) (Yes, do!) Maybe consider inverting the Y axis."
    This made me chuckle.

    Don't read instruction manuals? Well it's hard to do that these days when they're just a folded handout, but back in the day instruction manuals were awesome to read, and sometimes they still are today, damnit! :p

      I was impressed Max Payne had a proper one AND in full colour. Truely an anomoly in this day and age.

        R* is good like that.

      Some of the old PC manuals were art. Anyone remember the manual for Diablo, with characters & spells which didn't end up in the game itself? And American McGee's Alice had the diary of a nurse from an insane asylum, from memory...

    If you can, play the game on PC. Why?
    "yes I know you just want to just chill on the couch in front of the big screen and play the game right away, but we ARENT DOING THAT - you're going to go sit in the other room at a desk and learn the nuances of installing compatible Nvidia drivers first" :P

      I keep my PC in my lounge. 40 inch tv, wireless keyboard and mouse, big comfy recliner. There is no rule saying your pc has to be on a desk.

        I second this, PC gaming from the couch is awesome!

          Hehe yeah I do the same using a wireless wacom for playing civ5!

    I dont know...even if the first one isnt the best it just feels better to play them all....

    Play on PC? Get lost. Play on the system you are most comfortable with . For me it would go the following if I had a PC.
    PC for RTS, controllers are just a no go for traditional RTS games
    PS3 for brawlers, the button layout seems more comfortable
    360 for pretty much everything else just because that's my personal choice.
    Kotaku always seemed a console friendly zone but this idea of play on PC or it's worse is not helped by articles like this.
    I also wouldn't say TRY to break the game since that's not PLAYING the game, it is BREAKING the game. The developers designed the game to have a certain flow, by TRYING to break that flow you are not playing the game.
    The game may be more fun with less information. Yes it may be, but you may also turn off certain notifications that are vital to certain aspects, like hidden items that might appear as blips, but are now turned off.

    There are some good suggestions in this, but many are ridiculous. If you are the kind of person who HAS to play most games on easy, you should not be turning off mini-maps and HUDs

    "Dont read instruction manuals" Unless said game is a high fidelity combat simulator and you need to constantly refer to checklists to release weapons on targets.

    Never ever go anywhere near high realism sims without checklists handy. I've got every checklist for DCS A-10 printed and handy during my time in game.

    I, for one, found this article amusing. Boy, people take things too seriously...

    "If the game you’re about to play has a numbered sequel, play the sequel. Unlike movies, the first one usually isn’t the best."

    Could be worded better. It makes it sound like you should go straight to the sequel, instead of playing the first game, which if you want to really enjoy some series, and want to know what's going on story wise, is a bad idea.

      Agreed , It's always worth trying to follow the scheme of things and the evolution of controls or themes will help.

    Before you start…
    10. If you can, play the game on PC.

    Does anything else really need to be said? =)

    Another junk article. Turning down the sound will never, ever help. Games have tonnes of audio cues. Turning the gamma/brightness all the way up makes games look terrible! Your set up seems like a nightmare to me

    "If a game is condescending towards you for playing it on easy, turn it off and return it."

    Pft. Sif return Doom/Wolfenstein. Or turn them off!

    But yeah, like others said. So much of this was a load of wank.

    "12. ..But limit your overall save file count, maybe to four, to give yourself options but not too many options." my 1000+ save games of Skyrim were a bit over the top?

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