Are Cutscenes Part of Play?

When I play a game and a cut scene begins, I always find myself using that time as a break to send a text or grab a snack. Rarely do I pay full attention to cut scenes, especially if the scene is more than a few seconds long. I realize that I personally do not consider myself to be “playing” when a cut scene comes on. How does this effect my gaming experience? I would argue that my gaming experience in unaltered but that I sometimes lack a sense of “Why?”

Throughout The Last of Us and Assassins Creed, I rarely paid full attention to the cut scenes. I was able to do so and still progress through the games because I was prompted with objectives that offered direction quickly after each scene.


While I knew the general story lines of each game from the objectives, I was typically unsure of why exactly I was in a specific location or why I had the given objective. Thus, since I was able to progress through the game without knowing the exact details of the previous cut scene, I believe game developers anticipate gamers may not pay full attention. This would indicate that perhaps they do not view the cut scenes as part of “play” either. Given my experience playing the games, such that a user can progress without paying attention to the cut scenes, I would argue cut scenes are non-essential to the game. I believe this is the strongest argument against them being part of “play.” Therefore, this means a quality that I personally feel is critical to what defines “play” is that the subject must be essential to a player’s progression through the game.


  1. I think that everything is part of gameplay. It’s sort of like the way a football game flows on ESPN. We’re not always watching live action of the game, but we never say, “I’m watching Joe Buck talk about the Cowboys,” we always call it ‘the game.’ I think the same thing goes for gaming, even if there is a cutaway scene, we are still playing the game, and that’s all part of the flow of our experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. quinn797

    There have been a lot of discussions of whether cutscenes should be considered a part of the gameplay. Like rneedham91, I myself often skip the cutscenes or take them as a break, but I’d not consider them as not being a part of my gameplay experience since the cutscene functions the same as the rules/instructions in a game, which together they make sense of the game world. And also this is a question about whether cutscenes have to be related to narratives. This is essential in terms of whether cutscenes are indispensable to the whole game or not. Imagine a cutscene from a room-escape/survival horror game that shows you the blueprint of the house, or a conversation between the householders that tells you about a secret path, what would you think of it now?

    Liked by 1 person

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