What Is a Gameplay Video?

What Is a Gameplay Video?

A comprehensive yet simple definition

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Features on

There are so many different kinds of gaming videos that viewers' expectations can sometimes be askew so let's look at what the definition of a gameplay video is as well as compare it to a few other video types.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country screenshot
Screenshots only show so much; it's better to see games in action!

What is a gameplay video?

A gameplay video is a clip of direct footage from a video game and its primary purpose is to show gamers how a game plays. Ideally, the video will exhibit various aspects of the game. For example, a gameplay video of an RPG should show its battle system, world and possibly dungeon traversal, and perhaps even a bit of character dialogue. After watching a gameplay video, the viewer should have a firm grasp of what to expect upon playing the game for themselves. Therefore, it's a useful tool that could help gamers decide whether they should purchase a game or not. Gameplay videos do not traditionally feature commentary and if any editing is done, it's usually minimal so the viewer can focus on how the game is played.

Since I started Video Chums back in August 2014, I've made an effort to ensure that wherever possible, each review and article will feature a gameplay video or a playlist of gameplay videos so our readers can watch the games that we discuss in action. Also, the videos are customarily supplied by each article's author so you can see how they personally play the game. I'm still very happy with this decision because it adds a personal touch to our coverage as well as provide our visitors with plenty of context.

Browse our latest gameplay videos →
Let's Play Trials Rising screenshot
Let's play videos are great if you want to hear someone's thoughts as you watch them play

Now, let's take a look at the differences between gameplay videos and a few other kinds of gaming videos.

Gameplay video vs. gameplay trailer

Gameplay trailers are produced by video game developers and publishers in order to demonstrate an upcoming or recently released game. They are mostly created before a game releases so potential players can whet their appetites before they can play the game for themselves. Gameplay trailers come in many varieties as they sometimes feature commentary and can be heavily edited. Considering they are produced by the company that created or published the game, they might only flaunt the best parts of gameplay as well as show off their game using an optimal gaming setup so these sorts of videos should be watched with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Gameplay video vs. let's play video

Let's play videos are generally much longer than gameplay videos and include commentary. They aren't typically edited although if the content creator experiences technical difficulties or needs to temporarily step away, they might decide to cut out these parts before publishing the video. Often, the gamer providing the commentary can be seen within a small onscreen window. These videos are enjoyable as you can watch someone react as they play and you can also learn about the game from their unique perspective. In other words, let's play videos can range from entertaining to informative and the best ones are a masterful combination of both.

Watch our Let's Play with GGRC video series →

Gameplay video vs. video walkthrough

Seeing as the purpose of a gameplay video is to simply show viewers how a game is played within a reasonable amount of time, they're not ideal for gamers who are stuck on a game and wish to learn how to advance. Thankfully, video walkthroughs exist to show players how to progress through a game. Many video walkthroughs are unedited although this makes them difficult to sit through because watching someone trying to progress through a game can be just as frustrating as figuring it out on your own. Consequently, many let's play videos and playthrough videos (which are let's play videos without commentary) are intentionally and deceptively mislabelled as walkthrough videos for the sole reason of getting more views. In the end, the best video walkthroughs are produced by gamers who already know what they're doing and are edited to only show the important steps that are required to assist their audience.

Gameplay video vs. speedrun video

The final gaming video type that I'll discuss here is speedrun videos. These are created by expert gamers who attempt to complete a game as quickly as possible. Watching these is similar to witnessing an Olympic athlete trying to break a world record. Whereas the goal of a gameplay video is to show how the average gamer will play a game, speedrun videos are created so gaming masters can demonstrate their impressive skills. As a result, they're generally not useful if you're deciding whether to purchase a game or not but they are highly entertaining. If this piques your interest then be sure to watch the semi-annual Games Done Quick charity marathon.

Top 10 Speedruns from SGDQ 2018
Bear and Penguin Play Chew Man Fu screenshot
Why watch videos when you could be playing games with a chum?

There are many kinds of gaming videos and I hope that they're easier for you to distinguish after reading this article. If anything is still a bit unclear or you'd like to provide feedback then please leave a comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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