I know that this is a blog about games, but occasionally I will blog about things that are “game adjacent.”  One of the more interesting aspects of games is their effectiveness at conveying a story.  Another good story-telling mechanism is the comic.

Here is a short video of the comic development process that I used in my Introduction to Edutainment course.

I bring this video up because, throughout the EdTech program at Boise State, I tried to focus my attention on edutainment-related electives.  I chose a lot of courses on using games, video, and other media in education.  One type of media that I had initially overlooked was cartoons/comics.  It’s not that I thought they were bad as educational tools; it’s just that my focus was on more “high technology” solutions.

As an educational technologist, it’s often very easy to fall into the trap of focusing only on the latest and greatest technologies.  In an effort to appear innovative, one could easily overlook what we can do with a pencil, pen, paper, and a photo-copier.  COmics allow us to put into printed form the sequences that we often try to convey in a class verbally.  Comics allow us to help learners by putting sequences like that on paper and in a format that people are more willing to read.

As I’ve explored comics as an educational tool, I’ve started seeing them more and more throughout several industries.  Ikea, for example, uses completely visual instruction sets to explain how to put their furniture together; this layout is just like a comic.  Most airlines also use comics to show emergency instructions.

I’ve started notices more instances of comics in games, as well.  The free game “Beneath a Steel Sky,’ for example, comes with a comic to introduce the reader to the story.  The Japanese version of the old Nintendo game “Kickle Cubicle” went a step further: it contained an whole instruction booklet written in comic form.

I would love to see more comics used to explain back-stories and mechanics of the games.  So I guess I’ll make this a call-out: If you are designing a game, consider exploring ways to use comics in your game literature.  Ask yourself, “would this manual be better if it was in comic form?”  Of course, the answer might be “no,” but you’ll never know if you don’t consider it.