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Are walking simulators good at simulating walking?

Putting walking simulators to the test

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

Video games let us do so many fantastical things: travel to strange and distant worlds; experience stories from entirely new perspectives; shoot the big, loud gun. One of the most common things is walking, and yet, we rarely slow down to a moderate pace between 3 and 4 miles per hour and consider what it means to walk.

Luckily, there’s an entire genre dedicated specifically to walking. They’re called “walking simulators” and over the last decade they’ve flourished. Today, there are so many places you can simulate walking, including but not limited to: a big old house, the Wyoming wilderness, a mysterious island, a quaint British village, and an even bigger old house.

Of course, we expect walking simulators to have impressive locales to visit, since they focus on narrative and have little, if any, “traditional” gameplay. What really sets them apart is their dedication to walking. It’s right there in the genre’s name! But which one is the best at walking? In order to answer this pressing question, I’ve taken it upon myself to conduct a rigorous analysis of some of the biggest names in the genre in order to determine: Which walking simulator has the best walking? You can find out the results of my study in the video at the top of this post, but here’s a little preview: By the end of the video, I’m not so sure if “walking simulator” is the most accurate name we can give this genre of games.

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