Do You Consider Watching Game Playthroughs The Same As Beating The Game?

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devise22

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Considering the site I'm posting this on, I'd say it's safe to say a high majority of us here have watched our fair share of game playthroughs. And while sometimes it's of a game many of us have played or beaten already, there are lots of instances where you are watching a playthrough of something you've never seen, played, or beaten before.

Which leads to the title question, when you have watched an entire playthrough of a game you haven't played/beaten, do you consider that similar to having beaten the game? The more mechanical the game is in nature, the less relevant this probably becomes, especially when it all comes down to feel and challenge. But so many games now, even less narrative focused ones have progressive mechanics that absolutely do translate when your watching someone else play them. You can see the difficulty curve, and often other mechanical changes get noted. I think Vinny's recent run of Bloodstained is a good example of this.

I often fall in the middle on this issue since it really depends on the game. I've never played a single Metal Gear Solid game, and I plan to keep that record in track. Yet if someone asks me, I mention having seen them all/know what they are about because of watching Metal Gear Scanlon. To me watching that series satisfies the same feeling as having beaten those games would. Obviously to be an "expert" on any game I'd imagine most would agree you'd have to play it to some degree. But what about pure narrative games like Until Dawn or something of that ilk?


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Sombre

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no

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BonelessSpirit

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No. To beat a game you need to participate in the act of actually playing it. Even with an extremely narrative-focused adventure game you still need to make choices and occasionally solve puzzles.

I love Let's Play and watch a ton of them, but it's mostly for games I have already beaten or for games I know I will never play myself because I'm not interested enough in them or maybe don't have the platform to play them on.

But with watching Let's Plays you are merely an observer, never participant.

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Zeik

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#4  Edited By Zeik

"Beating a game" I feel like specifically implies having played it yourself, so I don't think I would ever claim to have beaten a game I only watched a playthrough of.

If it's a game I'm only interested in for lore though I'll occasionally consider a watchthrough a sufficient replacement for a hands-on playthrough. There are games I'm content to having only experienced second hand.

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Nixamo

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No. "Beating" or "completing" a game requires interaction with it.

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liquiddragon

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#6  Edited By liquiddragon

Well, do you tell ppl you beat the MGS games? There is a lot to MGS' gameplay you're disregarding. Nothing plays like those games. It's hard to compare watching MGS vs. playing it.

It's not the same thing. You can learn a lot by just watching a play through and you'd certainly know more than someone that hasn't but it's not the same experience as playing it. Watching vs. playing are literally not the same thing. Even with games like Until Dawn, you still control those characters, engage with QTE and make split second choices. Just feeling the vibration of the controller as you engage with some of the encounters draws players in differently than it would someone watching.

We're talking about video games. Playing is the most important thing.

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devise22

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@liquiddragon:Probably not? I think some here are getting hung up specifically on the term "did you beat it" and more is the experience of watching it enough of a substitute for you that you'd call the experience similar/just as good.

I think that is where I fall with Metal Gear. I'm not really disregarding the gameplay, because i'm not watching the experience just for the narrative reasons. Scanlon is a good case of this because Drew banged his head on a lot of those bosses and encounters to enough of a degree that as an observer, I could tell you mechanically what was going on, where the challenge was, etc. Like I said I don't think I'd still say I had beaten any games in the franchise, but I guess I feel like the experience of watching it absolutely counts the same as someone who has beaten it. Or that is my feeling on it having beaten other games that I have seen some playthroughs of.

@bonelessspirit: Yeah I mean, in general I'm with you a lot of the full playthroughs I'll watch are for games I'm likely not to play, or games where if I do play them there is enough choice going on that the experience can be different. However I do feel like there are plenty of games I have beaten and seen full playthroughs of that I'd argue give me the same end feeling when I do beat a game/get to completion. Adventure games for me often fall into this category as despite often some narrative choice or mechanics, it very much winds up feeling like the players individual journey of playing the game is only a supplemental to the catharsis the games provides upon completion. Life is Strange was like that for me, for example, as well as a couple of Telltale adventure games I beat.

Hell I even went back and beat Yakuza 0 after seeing the playthrough here and while I had fun playing that game, there was very little "personal journey" that came from my interactions. If anything just the ability to see the combat in a easier and slightly different light than was presented in the playthrough.

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Efesell

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Certainly not, that's silly.

There's no true substitute for personal experience, no matter how well something seems to come across in video. Now if that's how you want to interact with a game that's fine but..use accurate language.

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liquiddragon

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I wish I felt this way cuz I wouldn't have to spend another dime on games.

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BonelessSpirit

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#10  Edited By BonelessSpirit

@devise22: If you feel like you actually get enough of an experience like you say then I'm not going to try and argue against that. Personally, I feel too much of a disconnect watching LPs.

But I think you could possibly make an argument for something that is almost completely narrative-driven, like visual novels that have little to no choices and all the interaction is from pressing the button to skip through the dialogue. But then you could also argue how much of a game that is to begin with.

To me, it's a bit like choosing to read a long Wikipedia article on a popular book, and then going on to read a bunch of reviews, articles and opinion pieces on said book. At this point, you probably know a shit ton about the book. You probably know exactly how it plays out, how it ends, the specific language used, some select quotes, etc. But not at any point have you sat down and actually read it. I think similar to that when you watch a Let's Play there is too much of a disconnect because you don't have the tactile experience of controlling and interacting with the game yourself. You have a lot of the info but lack a major part of the experience. At least that's how I see it.

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Humanity

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Nope.

There is a valley of a difference between experiencing a game and watching a game. Sometimes the act of overcoming a difficult obstacle is a bigger reward than the narrative hooks.

Of course if it's something like a very linear adventure game where it's extremely minimal on gameplay mechanics then I guess you could at least argue for or against the game since you have a clear understanding of it's main focus - although saying you "beat it" still feels iffy at best?

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devise22

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@bonelessspirit: Yeah I mean, I wouldn't go as far as to say that there are no games where I absolutely need that more tactile experience your referencing. Especially with the prevalence of RPG mechanics allowing for more freedom/choice in the way you play. But not all games offer those in mechanical ways. Does watching a player upgrade his health 10 percent over you upgrading your damage really translate to a difference in terms of individual journey? I guess it would depend on how much it changes playstyle.

I will say though I don't think your book analogy completely holds weight. I understand what your going for, but I would never in a million years read a wiki of a book over reading it. The only way to experience the medium of the book is to consume it. I'm still technically "consuming" a lot of aspects that the player is consuming in some video game playthroughs. Especially heavy narrative ones. But more so, the game playthrough often gives me the players take on their experience side by side with the live video of them playing it. So on top of experiencing the narrative and cutscenes at the exact same pace/time as the player, I'm also getting active thoughts, comments, and general mechanical game knowledge by the person playing, or in some cases the people watching with the player. While you would still always default to the expertise of the person with the controller, so much of the actual experience of playing the game still translates with the playthrough.

Where as other than the knowledge of what happened, none of the experience of reading the book translates. Even if I read reviews it would be after the fact, and I would still be trying to get that experience from someone else's perspective. While the game playthrough has some of that, if the person playing doesn't like a specific tone/musical cue, or a sound effect, or a host of any other things I still experience those with them, as opposed to just through them. There is still an avenue to find things you like/dislike inside of it that is devoid of that persons lens/experience with the game.

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Onemanarmyy

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No. Like i feel like i can speak towards the story of games i've watched, but that's pretty much the extent of that.

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Efesell

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I think it's valid to still form opinions on something you've watched a playthrough of, it just always has to be with the caveat that you have not in fact played the game at all.

You aren't speaking totally uninformed but it's a completely important distinction.

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mandude

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My brother's Solid Snake isn't very good at stealth, whereas mine is. This lends to a sense of ownership over my personal instance of the character that is missing when you don't actually play the game.

I mean, is watching a game of pool similar to actually playing one? Absolutely not. You're getting narrative, but you just don't have the same sense of struggle, accomplishment and catharsis you'd have by playing the game. And those things change how you feel about the narrative.

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BoOzak

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No, the closest you can get to beating a game without playing it is watching a narrative style game that involves virtually no gameplay but even then i'd still probably say no.

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FrodoBaggins

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Completely depends on the game.

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Quantris

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Generally, no. You haven't even tried to press the H button for god's sake.

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OurSin_360

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No, but if it's a story based game I usually feel no need to play it unless the mechanics are super fun. Like I could watch an xcom playthrough and still go back and play it again etc.

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BrunoTheThird

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The 'feel' of games is often so crucial to the experience and enjoyment of playing them that you can't say you 'beat' them in the sense of overcoming the challenges that were sent your way using your own skills and patience. That doesn't mean you don't experience a tonne of what the games have to offer via your other senses by watching them be played, you absolutely do, but the word 'beaten' isn't accurate. You've passively seen them through to the end, putting it more on the same level of engagement that watching a film entails. I believe some people have such imaginations that, to them, they feel like the controller is in their hands when watching, but that's a different topic.

I'm much more critical towards myself regarding my own definition of 'beaten'. Silent Hill 3 and Uncharted 2 are two examples of me getting to the literal last moments of a game before my PS3 died and I lost the saves. I'm talking seconds away from the final cutscenes and credits, and I didn't feel like I beat them at all, even when I watched them on YouTube. That sudden release from stress we crave so much in those ultimate battles/puzzles didn't occur, which is a crucial feeling in a lot of games: that 'it's over...' feeling, much like thrillers and horror movies. I ended up playing and finishing them again when my PS3 was fixed, as I needed that post-finale endorphin rush followed by the sweet serenity of the closing credits.

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nutter

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@sombre: nailed it.

No.

End of story.

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fisk0

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#23 fisk0  Moderator  Online

I think it's enough to be able to have meaningful discussions about the game (with some limitations, you may see the extent of the narrative, but maybe not the amount of options available at any given point, either as story choices or just the variety of mechanical options), but no, it's not the same as having actually experienced it for yourself.

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TheMadMan007

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How is this even a discussion? No. Period. You are just watching and did not participate in the game whatsoever. It’s like watching The Super Bowl and saying “I won the super bowl”!

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BladeOfCreation

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#25  Edited By BladeOfCreation

If I ever get around to watching Drew play through Metal Gear Solid, I would never say I've "beaten" or "finished" those games. But I would be comfortable stating an opinion on them. I would never say I've read The Lord of the Rings trilogy just because I've seen the movies.

Even when speaking of books, I try to clarify that I listened to the audiobook rather than read the book.

You can't pay respects just by watching someone press F!

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doombot13

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No. What? No.You watched someone else finish it. I've done that but I've never say I'd beaten those games. I never even played them.

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tds418

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Absolutely no. With the minor exception (possibly) of games that are 75%+ non-interactive stories with no player choice. But I'm not even sure how many games would fit that description.

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cikame

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Sometimes, depends on the game, i only watch a playthrough if i have no intention of playing a game, or if it's a game i love and have played through already.
I had no intention of playing Persona 4, but i have very special memories of that playthrough, probably better memories than if i played the game myself (he casts bufu on things he shouldn't), though it is possible i may replay the game for myself in the future because i found out it's a fantastic game.
Similarly i will probably never play any of the original Resident Evil games, but i massively respect them and enjoy watching people who already know where to go and what to do play through it, i've watched multiple playthroughs of the first 3 games and consider my experience with them "complete", same with RE7 but i can't remember who i watched play that, that was a good one, i eventually watched Abby play RE2:Remake after i'd played it myself.
I haven't watched any of the Yakuza or Bloodstained videos as i intend on playing those.

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Casepb

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Sorry bud it's a big no from me as well. I've never actually watched a full walkthrough of any game before. The only time I would ever even click on one is to see where to go next if I've been lost on a level for 30 mins and just can't take it anymore.

This does remind me of my 12 year old self though, I would brag that I beat Final Fantasy VII when really I just watched my cousin do it.

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Nodima

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#30  Edited By Nodima

Sure.

I've not watched many outside of Giant Bomb, and Giant Bomb tends to long-play games I'd never think of playing anyway, but I did watch the majority of some kid named Ryder or something playing Batman: Arkham Asylum several years ago to convince myself to give Arkham City a shot. I didn't play the game until years and years later, when they released that remastered Arkham collection, and I could never shake the feeling I'd already played it before even though I know I haven't.

I've had a similar struggle to go back and complete the Nightmare of Mensis portion of Bloodborne once I fell away from it for a bit last spring during the annual MLB The Show release and eclipsed where I was in the game in Aegon of Astoria's Let's Talk Lore series. He was overpowered as hell and knew exactly what to do in every area and every fight, but his exploration/explanation of each area and lore was so thorough that I fear I've lost that sense of insecurity and wonder that's so integral to the experience of that game. I'm quick to declare it one of the definitive games of the generation, but I'm also quite hesitant to go back and actually finish it.

I'm not sure this sensation is exactly the same as what you're asking after, but it at least meets the scenario half way in that I no longer feel a pull to experience a game's mechanics, or at least am less curious about them, once I've seen someone else do the stuff.

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MerxWorx01

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I've watched several Superbowls but I sure as hell would never say I'm a Superbowl champion. The answer is no.

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SarcasticMudcrab

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It's a replacement at best, I often watch playthroughs of story based games while grinding away at whatever online thing I'm currently playing.

It's objectively not 'beating' a game.

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flameboy84

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#33  Edited By flameboy84

Hell no...it's an alternative to but not an outright replacement for playing a game yourself.

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nutter

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Is it maybe time to make this an answerable thread and lock it?

I’m not sure our straw-man savior will enter and turn this into a proper debate...

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Jimbo7676

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No, it's a different thing. You feel ownership when you are playing it yourself whereas a let's play is more entertaining because of the person/people playing the game and how they commentate. Granted I don't feel compelled to play Persona 4 after watching the Endurance Run but I certainly do not feel like I did play it. Vinny played that game and cast bufu when he should not have.

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Shindig

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No. If you don't play, you don't win.

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hermes

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No. While I do think watching an entire playthrough is near to experience a game, it is still not the same.

It would be like watching a movie or reading its article in wikipedia.

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someoneproud

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Nope. I've never watched a play-through of a game I haven't played through myself first, even then I only watch because I like the people playing and want to hear the commentary. I can't imagine a scenario in which I would prefer to watch a game instead of playing it myself.

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infantpipoc

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No.

Personally I usually watch segments of playthrough when I hit a wall in a game and cannot find a good enough written guide.

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BigSocrates

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No.

I've watched some full playthroughs of games that I would never want to actually play (like Sonic Boom and Escape Dead Island) and I watched both endurance runs of Deadly Premonition, but I definitely do not feel like I've played those games. For one thing I don't actually understand how they control. I kind of get the mechanics, but until you've actually pressed the buttons to make the characters do stuff you don't really know how the games work within their control scheme. Is the player more skilled than you? Less skilled? When they complain about weird timing or praise tight control would you feel the same? You just don't know until you actually have the experience.

For another thing...watching a playthrough is just much less involved and focused. When I play a game I focus my attention on it. When I watch something my focus drifts around. I might be doing something else like cooking or eating or exercising or whatever. Playing a game is an experience for me. Watching is just...watching.

Finally...I don't get any control over the experience. I don't have the emotional investment I do when I play. When I watched the Ryan's Inferno video on Giant Bomb (RIP Ryan) I wanted him to succeed because it would make him happy but I kind of also enjoyed when he failed because I was enjoying the banter he had with Jeff and wanted the video to continue*. I recently struggled with the end boss of Yooka-Laylee and trust me, no part of me was enjoying failing repeatedly there. In addition, having control helps my sense of immersion in a world. I feel like I've been to the grand tome worlds in Yooka-Laylee because I played through them. I do not feel at all the same about Sonic Boom, even though I spent a lot of time watching that trainwreck of a game. I barely remember any of the areas or what happened.

Watching games just is not a substitute for playing them. It can catch you up on the plot if you really don't want to play something, it can be fun or funny or engaging, there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not the same thing.

*Ryan's Inferno is a good example. When I watched that video I was focused on what Ryan and Jeff were saying and though I kind of understood how the game played I didn't know exactly what the issues they were having were. I played through Dante's Inferno this year, and I now totally get what they were talking about, even though I did not struggle with that section of the game. I watched that video multiple times but that didn't give me 25% of the insight that playing through the area once did.

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MonkeyKing1969

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The same? No.

But for many narrative based games, I think you get the story and what they game played like, from a play-through. I don't need to play Persona 4, I watch it played. All of the endurance runs on GB are more than sufficient for those games. I don't view watching the videos as "playing them", but I don't need to - I got what I needed from the play-throughs.

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NTM

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#42  Edited By NTM

No. If I did, I'd be rich since I'd never have to play a game again. Plus, I don't like watching through a game I've never played since that spoils some of that experience. If I go into it knowing what to expect, it ruins some of the fun. The only exception is to games that are around an hour-long (most recently, 198X). Even then, it was really only the one game I've ever watched through. So no, I don't consider it the same, and I don't like doing it. Heck, I hardly read reviews before I'm done with a game.

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TobbRobb

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It's definitely not the same. You can't get the exact same experience when one is passive and one is interactive.

However I think it's just as valid a thing to do. It really just comes down to what you want out of the game. I do also think however that watching something can lessen the experience to an extent where I question if it's worth it.

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norm9

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No.

But it's telling of the quality of some of the games being made and agency required by the player (looking at you, walking simulators) when a person can say that watching a let's play is the same as playing it.

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tunaburn

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What? Is this a real question? If you werent the one playing you didnt beat it. Pretty self explanatory.