Hello and Happy Thanksgiving Lusireaders! Once again I come to you to give you my written thoughts on a certain topic in gaming culture. This week, I present to you my thoughts on “Let’s Plays”. For those of you not in the know, a Let’s Play is basically a video walkthrough of a video game that may have commentary given by the video’s uploader. They are another option for gamers who do not want to use a written walkthrough, instead they need to be shown how to solve the puzzle they are stuck on or how to beat that big bad secret boss. In concept, the Let’s Play is a good idea however in execution things turned out to be very different.
Before we get into the problems with current day Let’s Plays let us look at what started all of this. Really it was Google Video and YouTube that brought the rise of Let’s Plays. With people able to record and upload home made videos with ease it was only a matter of time before people started to upload their video walkthroughs. With the use of capture cards and other such devices the common gamer could now easily record gameplay to upload to the internet. No longer did you have to own a website that could host your video files. Conveniently, YouTube/Google Video took care of the hosting and playback for you. Just select your video, type in some information, and wait for it to upload. The process is easy as pie and anyone can do it. This was great and terrible all at once, just about anyone could upload their Let’s Play. Stupid, uninformed, boring people could upload videos as well as really entertaining, funny, and informed people. This brought in a great divide among LPers. You had many who were just plain boring and dull, and very few who were truly entertaining or informative. This is how it stayed for many, many years, until about mid-July of 2012 when the channel “Game Grumps” started uploading videos.
Game Grumps is a YouTube channel operated by Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson and John “JonTron” Jafari. It seemed at first that these guys were just going to be a comedy Let’s Play channel, but thankfully it was much more than that. Their videos were hilarious and well informed about the games they were playing, and if one of those elements was lacking then the other element would seemingly pick up the slack. In almost a single month these two internet sensations seemed to completely change how YouTubers did Let’s Plays. Additionally, the two were able to just fart around in a game they knew absolutely nothing about and make it really entertaining. Even when they take the somewhat serious route and try to be informative their videos are still entertaining. The one thing that is annoying about Game Grumps is that they very rarely beat games. For example, they were playing Banjo Kazooie for many weeks and then suddenly, with no explanation why, they stopped uploading videos in that series and moved on to other games. Besides that though these guys are a stellar example about how Let’s Plays should be. If you are thinking about starting a LP channel, watch some of their earlier videos and take notes.
In the same vein as LPing, another way of watching video games being played has started to gain steam with Twitch.tv and live streams. Live streams come into a lot of the same problems that LP videos do. If the person live streaming is neither funny nor informative the stream is boring. An advantage that live streamers have over LPers is that you can give real time comments to the streamer, thus effecting how the stream could advance. If a streamer has a really strong and supportive community the stream is usually very entertaining or if the streamer is new or does not have a great community it usually just turns into some asshat from Oregon twiddling his dick for a couple hours. But overall, live streaming is a good thing for people who may not have the time or money to play a certain game and can join in on a community experience of playing said game.
In closing, I would like to say that I am a huge supporter of LPs and Streamers. When done well they are truly entertaining and a great experience to have on the internet. However, as stated before if they are missing the elements of being informative or funny their stream/video usually does not go well. Be a LPer or a live streamer is truly a performance art and if poorly done said commentator will not gain any popularity. We should have great respect for those who have worked up from practically nothing with their LP/Steam career. Readers have you ever LPed or live streamed? Have you thought about doing it and do not know where to start? Do you hate them all together and wish they never happened? Will you be doing a LP or live stream of Final Fantasy VI next month? Let me know in the comments.