Many gaming channels on Youtube do “let’s plays”, basically playing all the way through a game then posting the video online. Many people do this in parts, usually posting one video a day which keeps the viewer hooked for however many days it takes to complete the game. Video creators will overdub these videos with commentary, and will sometimes show their faces in the corner of the video box to let the viewers see their reactions.
These types of videos allow the video creators to show their personality through how they play the game, and the type of comments or jokes they make while playing. It also allows viewers to see the whole game’s storyline and gameplay without actually playing it themselves. I have personally watched many “let’s plays” as it gives you the opportunity to see actual gameplay footage before choosing whether to buy the game or not. It also has given me the opportunity to experience games that I can’t play due to not having the right console. A lot of gamers on Youtube also play through smaller indie games, which helps in opening up the market for games which may have a niche audience. Seeing a big Youtuber like PewDiePie play through a little-known game exposes it to over 21 million people, increasing it’s exposure while also acting as a form of advertising.
“Let’s plays” do offer a different experience from actually playing the game. I have found that playing a game after I have viewed a “let’s play” of it sort of detracts from the full experience of the game, as not only do I know the story (if it’s a plot driven game), but I can also find the game less enjoyable in terms of gameplay, because it’s as if I’ve played the game through already. They function more like a movie, as you are watching rather than playing, which can cause a separation between you and the game which may not happen if you were the one actually playing.
That being said, one of the big draws of these videos is the person playing them. As I said previously, a lot of video creators film themselves while they are playing through the game, which allows the viewers to see their reactions and also allows them to put a face to the personality that is coming through on the video. People subscribe to these gaming channels not only because they like watching gaming videos, but they like the person who is making them. These videos can function as a sort of stand up comedy routine, as they are making jokes about things that are happening within the game which causes them to make jokes on the spot. The popularity of certain creators has allowed them to become celebrities, by simply filming themselves gaming. Many people have made a living out of posting these videos online.
“Let’s plays” are an increasingly popular element of gaming culture. Everyday, people are starting to make their own “let’s plays” and posting them to Youtube and other websites to try and gain a viewership. While they offer a different experience to actually playing a game, they allow viewers to access the game on a more accessible medium, while promoting games and gaming culture to a wide audience. They also offer a different form of entertainment in the form of the personality of the person playing, who we as viewers may be able to relate to which can stimulate our interest in the game. These videos allow more people access to gaming culture, as they can be immersed and involved in the story and characters of the game, without ever picking up a controller (or mouse and keyboard, for that matter).