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This is about the idea of replay value of a game as it could be applied to cinematographic or televisual productions.1 Of course, nothing in either type of experience inherently bars repeat enjoyment or revisiting the work, even if the story arc were linear, and irrespective of ending. I take that to be the gist of some opinionated commentary underscoring the absence of the word replayability from most if not all online dictionaries(MW, OOD, Collins, Cambridge, AHD - at most you have playability, playable). The Google corpus shows it's not a very significant expression, but hindsight may be lacking.

So what to make of this absence of replay value or replayability from the dictionaries and books despite some modern colloquial use: in that context can a movie have a high/great/low "replay value" - is that an oversimplification, bad English proper, or the leveraging of an "incomplete definition"? Should I rather say for more precision a movie is "fun to watch many times over", or that another "relies on a one-trick pony type of device for its ending"(I may nevertheless enjoy repeat viewing, or not)? Is there a way to express the specific quality - or lack thereof - a movie would have which would elicit repeat viewing or is that generally considered a misnomer?


1. TFD copies from a version of the Wikipedia article (replay value) which has since been edited to remove an earlier reference to replayability and any field but gaming(yet the word replayability still appears in the text of the wikipedia article).

  • Interesting question. It might get a stronger response on EL&U. (Just a thought.) – pyobum Mar 31 '15 at 5:24
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    rewatch value for movies, reread value for books. Rewatchable. – Kreiri Mar 31 '15 at 6:45
  • There's a bunch of somewhat rhetorical questions in your post. It's not clear to me which one is your main question. The question in the title seems to be primarily opinion-based and so isn't really appropriate on ELL. – Jim Mar 31 '15 at 7:46
  • Just a thought. If someone used the term "replay value" with a movie or a TV episode, I'd imagine that such movie or TV episode is available on some kind of player (which is now common), and at the end of the movie or episode, the user can click or tap "Replay" (if they want to). – Damkerng T. Mar 31 '15 at 8:19
  • @Jim The main question is whether it's proper English, as in if I were attending high school or college in the U.S. for instance and I would write something like that in an essay, what type of corrections should I expect? The rest is me trying to rationalize what I have researched and presenting what I have found. Thank you. – user16335 Mar 31 '15 at 8:20
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If you are asking, "Is this a term commonly used by fluent English speakers to describe a movie?", the answer is "no".

If you are asking, "Would people understand what I meant if I said this?", the answer is "probably yes". At least, anyone who was familiar with the idea with respect to video games would likely see the analogy quickly.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're asking. There are lots of ways to put words together, lots of words or phrases that could at least theoretically be used to describe any given thing, but that people rarely if ever use to describe that thing. CAN I say that my coffee cup is epileptic? Sure, I can put those words together in a grammatically correct sentence. Whether it means anything to the person I am speaking to depends on context, etc.

  • Thank you. Fair enough. Your last paragraph may seem just like generalities or something very obvious for a native speaker, but I thank you for saying it as it's not for me. I think the native speaker doesn't care for such theoretical drivel as I put forth: if such a person frequently hears sth from friends, at work, at the coffee-shop, then it works and it is idiomatic. The lack of clarity in the Q's last part stems in no small part from me being wired differently and trying to leverage lexicon and things of lesser value to the native speaker imho. Thanks! – user16335 Mar 31 '15 at 18:19
  • @Amphiteóth Sorry if that last paragraph came off as a criticism. I'm not trying to attack you. Just trying to say, It's almost meaningless to ask, can this word be used to describe this thing? If it accurately describes it, then the answer is yes. It IS meaningful to ask, Will people understand me if I use this word to describe this thing? Especially if you are learning the language, but even fluent speakers run into that problem sometimes. – Jay Mar 31 '15 at 19:05
  • Thank you! I hear you loud and clear and had not taken this as criticism on your part. For me the meaningless and the meaningful Qs in your comment are the same i.e. if the word is appropriate then I will be understood. But no, not really. :) Thanks – user16335 Mar 31 '15 at 20:51
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Sorry, the comment feature just isn't working for me. Let me try this instead.

You currently are at an advanced level, but still a little awkward sometimes, and not completely self-confident yet. I'm happy to say that although you have expressed a lot of complex ideas, I felt that I understood all of it!

Suggestion: Try to organize your complex ideas in a simpler way, in other words, try to PACKAGE or PRESENT your complex ideas in simpler ways. Instead of mixing the potatoes, and the meat, and the vegetables, on your plate, keep them more separate. Meat at 1:00, potatoes at 6:00, vegetables at 10:00. This is a trick I was taught for serving dinner to my low-vision mother-in law. This way, she knows what to expect. When you are communicating in a non-native language, you are a bit handicapped, and so is your listener (or reader). So, make some accommodations. Later, when you are more comfortable, and especially with people you know well, you can give yourself the luxury of zigzagging your way through your ideas. But for now, go easy on your reader. He's already doing extra work, because occasionally you say something that could be understood differently from how you intend it. And, he's having to work hard to keep up with your scintillating flow of ideas! So, try to balance all that out by keeping the format and presentation simple.

Try to use shorter sentences, and more punctuation (commas, semi-colons).

Similarly, please try to avoid abbreviations such as "sth" for something. I don't have a cell phone, so text-speak is hard for me to read.

This advice comes partly from my experience as a former teacher of English as a second language, and partly from my experiences struggling with communicating in a non-native language. Actually, I've gone through that experience three times, in three different countries. That keeps me humble, and gives me lots of admiration for ELLs' efforts (and frustrations)!

Now, a small specific thing. "It's not for me" has a special meaning -- it's not my cup of tea, or it's not to my liking. So that people don't misunderstand you, it's better in this context to say, "It wasn't obvious to me."

  • Thank you, that was very generous of you and down to earth. I don't know of your experience with the asset; possibly this could have been a note in your other answer. Nevertheless I found it insightful and you rightly picked up on my "for me it's not/it's not for me". As a learner I have a somewhat long standing and really bad habits! Your advice seems sound and in line with some of my own perceptions. Thanks again! – user16335 Apr 1 '15 at 4:11
  • Thanks for taking my comments in the constructive spirit they were intended! One question -- what do you mean by "asset"? – aparente001 Apr 2 '15 at 3:59
  • You're welcome! I call individual SE sites "assets"! – user16335 Apr 2 '15 at 7:09
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Let's say the movie isn't worth watching a second time. You can say that it has a "made-for-TV feel". (That's a bit old-fashioned!) More modern: you can say that it "would be better to rent than to own."

Now let's say it's the other kind. You could say that "it can be viewed/enjoyed on many levels," or that "it's at least as good the second or third time around."

Your "fun to watch many times over" description is good. I personally don't like the pony phrase. Maybe in this case you could say that it's a "formulaic but feel-good movie with a never-fail ending."

All you have to do is read reader reviews of movies on Rottentomatoes and you'll have oodles and oodles of possible expressions.

  • Thank you, it's useful! I have noted on Imdb for instance user made listings and you see things such as "movies with highest/great replay value" etc. But I should maybe pay more attention to site content itself. I thought also of a movie "that one never gets tired of watching." etc. Do you equate what you said in your 2nd para. with "replay value"? – user16335 Mar 31 '15 at 8:29
  • "Replay value" was new to me. But it makes sense! Note, I am 59 and not completely up on all the neologisms. – aparente001 Apr 1 '15 at 2:05
  • I'd like to give you a little feedback about your English. – aparente001 Apr 1 '15 at 2:06
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A movie that has this quality in spades is Inception. Informally, people would say

You can watch it over and over.

Clearly it’s possible to watch any movie repeatedly, but the implication is one that can be watched over and over (or again and again, equivalent in meaning) will not bore the viewer or grow tiresome.

I have also described Inception with “it stays fresh,” as in new viewings continue to involve discovery of new relevant details, so some of the excitement of a completely new experience remains.

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To my ear, "This movie has great replay value" sounds more like a clever turn of phrase than an unidiomatic use of English. It is certainly not a common way to put it, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good way to put it.

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