We’ve all been there. When a puzzle is so obtuse you can’t even begin to work out how to solve it. When you’ve been searching for the next bonfire in a Dark Souls game for hours on end. When you’ve committed to finding a game’s scattered collectibles and one proves a bit too well hidden. Wikis and guides can replace hours of frustration with a few seconds of Googling, making up for an oversight on the part of a game dev or the occasional brain fart on the part of the player.
They can also leach the fun out of games. Looking up solutions can quickly devolve into a paint-by-numbers experience, with almost as much time spent alt-tabbed as playing a game. The moment that door is opened, there’s a danger that any sense of challenge or discovery will be lost. So, how do you decide when turning to external sources such as guides, FAQs, Wikis and search engines is worth the risk?