Gamer Debate: Is YouTube Bad For Gaming?
Gamer tool or lazy replacement?
©2011 David Hilton and Nicholas Laborde
Gaming, the biggest entertainment medium in the world, has obviously had a relationship with this juggernaut.
But is it really for the better?
OXCGN continues its history of opinionated discussions with yet another iteration of debating, this time with an argument that may just be hard to be on the negative end of.
• The Question is:
Is YouTube bad for gaming?
This leads to the inevitable question that bothers me deeply: can someone who watched an entire game be on the same level as someone who personally played through it?
Apart from that, YouTube floods the world with amateur machinima and tons of other things that no one really wants to watch. Most reliable video sources have their own website for the things that truly matter.
Well first of all, how can you say that only reliable video sources will have content that truly does matter?
The point of gaming is that it is participatory and these days that means sharing our experiences with others who share our interests in games. It is exciting for lay people to do something like a ‘video review’ of a title. They get to be creative with their editing and commentary, have fun beyond the game itself, and get to watch as people follow or comment on their YouTube show.
The same goes for things like racing YouTube videos that people do showing their hottest lap or most violent collision. Or for shooters like Halo, getting to have an audience outside their friendship circle who can watch some of their mad stunts, highest jumps with a vehicle, or most brutal kills (or just their most annoying tea-bagging).
Gaming is beyond just the gaming websites or magazines spoon-feeding gamers like in the past. It is a whole entertainment media now and YouTube is greatly responsible for this. Yes some of the content is what we would consider crap. But someone out there will watch and enjoy it (maybe especially if it is crap!).
You make valid points, and I agree with them. But let’s address the issue I presented with Let’s Plays.
Do you believe that if someone watches an entire game through, that they are considered to have “completed” the title? Could they honestly stand beside a player who personally played and beat the game?
Ah…I thought I had nimbly side-stepped that point. Darn.
Okay, I’ll admit that watching a game on YouTube is not the same thing as playing the game yourself, though I know many say they have ‘done’ the game after watching it.
However, YouTube videos can be used differently as a tool, rather than as a passive non-interactive ‘watch-through’. YouTube has allowed the creation by lay-people of visual FAQs that can help a gamer when they are stuck on a frustrating puzzle or just don’t know where to go next. It is much more effective than a written one.
It can also be a good tutorial. My sons watch ‘how to’s for the online game League of Legends to find ways to get better and use their characters more effectively. Otherwise it is a lot of trial and error in the game and they may never learn anything new.
While YouTube as a resource is indeed a valid and crucial point to your argument, it will always be much more rewarding when you figure something out yourself.
Yes, FAQs, walkthroughs and tutorials may be the faster and more appreciated route, but figuring out that puzzle by yourself gives you a sense of accomplishment that “help” won’t give. Get stuck in Portal 2 (which you will) and then tell me it was gratifying when you looked up a guide on how to do it.
It is true that doing something on your own is more gratifying and that YouTube means you can stop thinking and just find out what to do (some would call it cheating). Portal 2 is a game that would be ruined by watching how to do each step.
However, these days there are a lot more inexperienced gamers coming onto the scene and a lot more impatient or ‘just plain busy with general life’ players who just want to play through a game and enjoy it as an interactive fun experience- not as a frustrating one where you want to give up or throw your controller at the Tv. Sometimes solutions to puzzles or jumps you need to make are game design issues more than a gamer’s inability to figure something out.
I was recently playing Tomb Raider Underworld and the camera made it that the solution was to jump into space backward. But I jumped sideways, used my climbing cable, dropped…everything first before just blindly jumping backward and finding that there was a ledge offscreen there. That’s just a waste of time and not rewarding at all. I could have saved a lot of time and deaths with a YouTube FAQ.
Here’s a question for you as I sit on the fence with this one: We’ve established that watching a game is not the same as completing it by actually playing it and YouTube facilitates this non-gaming, but what about DLC content or exclusive content on one console?
What if you are unable to download DLC missions for some reason or are on a tight budget (or just a cheapo) but still want to see what happens in a story like, say, Assassin’s Creed 2 with the Battle of Forli? You can watch it on YouTube. Or if you don’t want to chase after the Subject 16 clues and just watch the solution video?
Or what if you have a 360 and there is PS3 exclusive missions (as in Brotherhood) and you still want to see that story play out? If you’ve finished the game but do those non-essential things, is that also like the Let’s Play ‘gaming’?
No, it is not. That would simply fall within the purview of “enrichment” – watching things in a particular game you’re playing that do not directly affect your playtime experiences. Like how L.A. Noire will have a few exclusive things on PS3. I’ll end up seeing those on YouTube.
The site as a resource is good, but just about everything else is repulsive.
Another point in my argument against YouTube is its integration with games.
Yes, I understand that not everyone can afford high-tech equipment to record their games, so features such as this are very helpful to a broader audience in the off-chance that you do something really noteworthy.
But it ruins the community behind the game; let’s take Team Fortress 2 for example. Ever since the most recent update which added the Replay Editor, a sort of mini-Theater Mode, with the ability to publish to youtube, we now have onslaught after onslaught of videos that will get ten views at the most.
On top of that, they offer achievements for certain viewcounts, and even a hat for getting a thousand views on an uploaded video. Now, every game site with a TF2 forum is flooded with everyone and their third cousin asking you to watch their video… that’s just cruel. It’s like trading guns for hostages.
Well I’ve only experience that sort of thing on Facebook competitions where people bombard me with messages to like their entry. It is indeed a real piss-off.
But on the other hand, YouTube encourages some incredible creativity from those who might otherwise not bother if they weren’t going to possibly get seen. For example, I’ve seen some amazing music videos and fan films for Assassin’s Creed stuff (okay I’m a big AC fan…so knife me with a retractable blade!). This enhances the gamer’s experience of the game or series if they so choose, which is why for example Ubisoft sponsored a fan video competition awhile ago.
In most cases nobody is forcing you to watch. (My sons do make me watch their Mario plush toy videos…in that case I curse YouTube!).
What about the argument that YouTube allows you to see some of a game you are not sure about? Especially if there is no demo available? You can get a lot of the flavour of a game from seeing real gameplay in play rather than some marketing mix to make a game look a certain way.
That would fall under my statement of the site as a “resource”, used for knowledge and not necessarily related to your gameplay.
So what you are saying is that YouTube should enhance our gameplay experience but not be the gameplay itself. Those who consider that they’ve beaten a game by watching it on YouTube are clearly not ‘playing’ at all and should refrain from claiming they’ve played the game?
I agree….but some will also say they’ve beaten a game if they’ve completed most of it and just used YouTube to fast-forward to the ending. I’ve reviewed some games I’ve later wished I could have done that….some games artificially extend their games through boring bosses or repetitive gameplay. If you’ve gone so far but can’t bring yourself to continue and finish it and just watch the rest being done quickly by a no-nonsense gamer (again I would have loved to have done that with Beowulf or Damnation…) is that also a case where you can’t claim to have completed the game?
Yes, indeed it would be. But there are extreme circumstances. Like Ansem at the end of the original Kingdom Hearts… let’s not talk about that.
In close, we agree that YouTube is good for gaming, unless it is used as a substitution for gaming.
Another debate ends, with David as the clear winner, but with Nicholas drawing up many valid points.
What do you think? Is YouTube bad for gaming?
©2011 David Hilton and Nicholas Laborde
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