Although I wasn't born yet, I don't ever recall Pong having a tutorial. The arcade classics that birthed this industry were often simple enough that many people figured how to play the game in a matter of seconds. Even the more "complex" features of Galaga were demystified by a few minutes of game play and chance shots. Game manuals and tutorials were simply not necessary for the majority of gamers in the classic days of the arcade. Generally, a few words from a friend that had spent about an hour with a game was all tutelage you ever needed.
As games saturated into the homes and started reaching a larger audience. Manuals started becoming a common trait of a video game purchase. And as the features of the games grew, so did the size of the manuals. The manual became such a huge part of PC gaming that many of them were well over 100 pages. These manual included most of what you would see in a modern day strategy guide and installation instructions. Instruction manuals for console games, though not as big, were common as well.
At the beginning of this decade, there was a major shift from larger manuals to interactive training built into the game. This reduced packaging size for games which saved self space for retailers. Bringing us to the current ten page or less manual, tucked behind the front cover, we now know and loathe. This, of course, started the strategy guides that GameStop reminds you how much you love every time you exhale in their store. Another popular result of this shift is the tutorial level.
How should gamers be guided? Are printed manuals or strategy guides the way to go? Or would you prefer some type of downloadable electronic reference? Is the interactive in-game method the best way to learn a new game? What do you see for the future of gamer guidance?