When it comes to learning support in video games, all games differ. What I mean by learning support is how well does the game support the player’s learning. Most games have a tutorial system in one form, or another. Some are part of the narrative of the game and some are not. Those that are not are accessed via an in-game menu, or are structured as a training segment tacked onto the beginning of the game. While these function within the context of the game, they are not woven into the narrative as some games pull off.
I recently tried Star Citizen—a science fiction MMO that is still in development. Once you log in, your character gets out of a bunk and stands up. That’s it. Most pc games have similar player controls, so I was able to move the character about. There was no indication what to do. I opened the menu options and found the key-bindings. The game provides you with a keypad diagram for the game’s various control schemes. This forces the player to refer to the diagram often. Opening the menu every few seconds when you want to figure out how to do something is irritating. Keymaps can be found online that can be printed out and used as reference, or you could take notes, create a cheat sheet. Another option is to be turned off by this lack and quit the game.
I understand that the game is still in alpha and the interface and user experience may change. This lack of guidance forces the player to take charge of their own learning. By using the bare-bones instruction for the control scheme, the player learns by trial and error and engaging with the game’s community.
As mentioned earlier, other games have tutorial systems that are integrated into the game in a variety of ways. On the other end of the spectrum from providing little instruction is to provide plentiful information that guides the player through the game. I remembered a game called Neverwinter—a free-to-play action fantasy MMO—that had an integrated tutorial system. I thought I would revisit it and record the opening segment of the game where I give my thoughts about how learning takes place.