Once upon a time, video games contained something called “surprise” and “challenge”. These are archaic monkey caveman words that you and I no longer use, because they have been replaced by words like “Google” and “smartphone”. However, there is one word that trumps all others in ruining the fun, excitement, and general interest of everything everywhere at all times. That word is “YouTube”, and it wants to let you know someone else already did it better than you.
YouTube was founded in 2005 and immediately purchased by Google as a powerful tool to post pirated VHS rips of old music videos, and broadcast violent ranting diatribes about your ex-girlfriend. Eventually, as with all things, FOX News found out about the site and it was officially ruined. Along with the advent of fairly cheap digital cameras, every jerk in a first world country decided they had to chime in on any product they had ever purchased with a video review. Because the Internet wasn’t clogged up with enough bullshit before you decided to review those freeze-dried apples.
Eventually YouTube caught up to video games and decided that, they too, needed to be ruined. Almost as a slap in the mouth to anyone who pays the sixty dollars to buy a new game, YouTubers began creating poorly crafted video walkthroughs. Not to be outdone by itself, YouTube then decided it needed to create a video walkthrough for each video game in history. This eliminated any sense of excitement or challenge to any game that has been or ever will be created. Just can’t beat that final boss in The Adventures of Lolo? Don’t worry, there is a nine minute video to help you with that.
The problem with these videos is that they cheapen the overall experience while simultaneously validating the creation of more videos with “hits” on YouTube. Unlike a written Strategy Guide or an online FAQ that tend to guide you in the proper direction while still allowing you to actually play, a YouTube video will show you exactly how to do something by watching another person do it for you, completely eliminating the need to actually play the game yourself. It is the 201X equivalent of using a Game Genie to cheat your way to victory so you don’t have to fight with your local video store over late fees on the copy of Mega Man 4 you rented.
Many people might argue that YouTube walkthroughs exist to help people achieve goals they otherwise wouldn’t be able to on their own, and save them hours of frustration. I would argue that these are the same people who buy those pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a plastic bag. They are widely known as “failures”. Being able to freely create and publish video content may have revolutionized the way we as a society view epically bearded men, but it also opened the door for would-be coaches to devalue the challenge of games.