Why We Cheat: The (perceived) Necessity of Walkthroughs in Modern Gaming Culture

I know it’s a long title, but bear with me.

There’s a phenomenon that has arisen in modern culture of thoroughly dissecting and analyzing storylines and our entertainment options. Whether it’s the hyperprevalence of YouTube videos providing explanations of episodes or theories about the small actions of characters. It has led to the hyperprocessing of most media, and near obsessive attention being paid to the stories, so it feels impossible to surprise someone – what used to be foreshadowing is now obvious telegraphing.

What would otherwise be just attention to detail in costumes turned for some people into an obvious twist in this episode of Game of Thrones.

This culture has extended to video games as well. Not counting the numerous “Best X in Game Y” videos, there are plenty of sites and videos discussing story-affecting (and some not) decisions to the level that every single one can be calculated instead of chosen, and discovering the consequences afterward.

But why? There could be plenty of blame attributed to the increased amount of content that is accessible for gamers. With the invention of YouTube and Twitch, games are much more accessible to people who haven’t purchased the game or are playing it. Exposing gamers to the future or climactic moments in a story is part of the biggest moments in streaming and walkthroughs, so without them the game is showcased less than the streamer/youtuber’s personality. But in this case plot points and decisions are spoiled.

In addition, Wikipedia articles for games are very important and often visited. Whether it’s to tell someone how to access a certain character’s dialogue or even the path to use to escape a map, it is a resource that many players do not waste. But like walkthroughs in puzzle games, how detrimental is this?

There are some benefits to gamers getting super deep into games. While you won’t be able to necessarily get people on critical decisions that have complex repercussions, you get a playerbase that on the whole is much more interested in achieving these end results, and knowing the path are more likely to invest their resources heavily into getting them. Someone who values the best weapon and has done research to know that you’re getting the absolute best weapon if you farm tons and tons of items in Kingdom Hearts is more likely to actually do that content, and possibly see more of the game through that. Similarly, I’m definitely going to be more interested in passing Garrus by in Mass Effect if I am aware that I can, to unlock dialogue scenes in the second which I had never encountered.

Overall, I think the hyperanalyzation of media is a shame, and people are not playing goal-oriented games to enjoy them as much as they could. But there is something to be said that with the growth of the video game industry there are options for the more hardcore and driven gamers as well as those who are casually enjoying them.

One thought on “Why We Cheat: The (perceived) Necessity of Walkthroughs in Modern Gaming Culture”

  1. This is a really interesting analysis! So, would you maybe say that walkthroughs should not be used in the first playthrough of a game (to make sure that people don’t spoil themselves) but should be “allowed” on subsequent playthroughs? Or would you say that what is best is for people to understand and make choices based on their personal playstyles? Thanks for the insightful commentary!

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