View Full Version : Using an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.) for classic PC gaming?

08-27-2012, 02:17 PM
When I think about old PC games, I think about all the extra manuals, novellas, and lore books that I would have to dig out to fully experience certain games. When I find online manuals and even the on-disc PDFs, they're not formatted very well to be read on e-ink readers. Has anyone else considered this, or tried using an e-reader for gaming?

Lady Jaye
09-09-2012, 11:37 AM
I own a Kobo touch and have sometimes used the PDF reader part of it for game-related material (walkthroughs, scans of magazines...). These are my impressions based on my experience with the Kobo:

Pros: Can be rotated to landscape mode, which allows for a wider screen area. It's also possible to zoom in and out. If you're using a walkthrough, for instance, the ereader can bookmark your last viewed page.

Cons: Since e-ink screens are grayscale, if there's a lack of contrast between the text and the background (like in some early Nintendo Power issues), it can be difficult to read the text. Even though it'd be in PDF format, you can't normally do a search. Can be very hard to use if the book is one of those books that served as copy protection (ie. the game would ask you to type "the second word from paragraph 4 of page 243"). If it's in PDF format, it's not really an issue, since the page numbering would match nonetheless, but if the content was converted to epub, it won't be usable.

09-09-2012, 12:40 PM
I've been experimenting a bit since I originally posted the thread, with mostly poor results.

I have a non-touch Kindle, and page rotation/scaling is a pain. Most downloadable or on-disc PDFs are dual-page scans, so you have to rotate to make it remotely readable. From there, the aspect ratio of the screen still doesn't match up, so fit-to-width means less vertical resolution. The Kindle already has pretty low resolution, so image-based content doesn't scale well. Even when I find single-page formatted scans, the resolution is too low to make it readable. Pure text works nicely, but you lose the formatting and illustrations.

I was playing King's Quest IV, and put the manual and hint book from Ken Williams' SierraGamers page on my Kindle. The manual is in plain text with page numbers indicated wherever page breaks would be, while the hint book is in dual-page image scans. This is about the most usable result that I've been able to achieve. I tried the manuals for Ultima IV, but they're in italic fonts that don't look right at reduced resolution, even in single-page mode.

I can understand a touch-based reader being easier to use, and I'm almost inclined to think that a tablet would work better. I like the e-ink idea better than a backlit screen, so a higher-res reader with touch-based zoom and rotation would be my preferred solution, if I ever got another reader. Now, I'm just printing out hard copy manuals in booklet form, at the expense of ink and paper.