I don't understand why Let's Plays have become so popular - Can someone explain it?

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Hey everyone,

Just so you are aware this is not intended as a criticism of people who watch Let's Plays and more coming from a place of genuine curiosity. I'm genuinely curious - why have people taken to watching people on YouTube they don't know play and commentate on video games?

I know I sound old but I genuinely don't see the appeal in this. Why wouldn't you just want to experience games yourself or with your friends instead of watching someone for hours on end that you don't know (and who doesn't care about you other than superficially to gain YouTube popularity) ? I mean, some people are making some serious money from just commentating on games they are playing online. Am I missing something here?

Why do people watch sports shows instead of playing themselves? Why do people watch sports commentaries instead watching a game with their friends? My guess is that gameplay serves as a good visual accompaniment (and occasional source of humor) to people that are fun and/or interesting to listen to. Like a podcast with a proper visual element.

Some games have good story but crap gameplay, it's a slog to play trough them yourself but a good let's play will take out the bad parts and keep the good stuff. Some player are ridiculously good at games and I just don't feel like playing the same game for a thousands of hour to reach there skill level but still want to watch what high level play looks like.

Personally I rarely just watch a let's play, I usually do something else at the same time (sometime playing some other game).

1. Commentary and entertainment value.
2. Information about game that helps decide whether to buy it.
3. Lack of funds for the game itself, or a machine that can run it. Or time.

I sometimes watch Let's Plays to learn how to play the game, for example recently with Total War: Attila.
Or when I'm really stuck and need a walkthrough.

If the gameplay's not good enough for me to play the game myself, I'm sure as hell not gonna watch someone else go through the whole thing.

I find a lot of LP's to be detrimented by the ego of the creator. I cannot understand why they show footage of their own face so often, or a counter of their subscribers. None of that is of any use to me. Just show me the game, and if you're going to talk, do so intelligibly, and make sure you have a decently pleasant voice - otherwise leave the job to someone more qualified.

I can understand if some people don't have time/patience to bother playing the game themselves. Also they could just be bored and/or enjoy watching how others play the game either to get an idea what it's about, or compare a different gameplay style to their own.

Having said that, I've never watched an entire Let's Play or even got close to it. Shorter videos are about all I have the time or patience for. I get a kick out of some of Maximilian Dood's commentary on his old MKX clips.

If I like the person(s) playing it (personality/humor), and they have some insight on the game, I find it entertaining to watch them comment/riff on it. Though only when it's games I've actually played myself.

Also, not everyone has friends who are into games. For some, watching a particular let's player is the only way to share in the excitement of a game.

Because they're interested in what they have to say?

hanselthecaretaker:
Having said that, I've never watched an entire Let's Play or even got close to it. Shorter videos are about all I have the time or patience for.

I think this is the only one I ever watched:

I had just finished my NYMH run and wanted to see how the best player did it. Well, I didn't watch all of it, but I did listen to all of it and watch much of it. I enjoyed his commentary.

There's only two kinds of situations where I'll find myself... sort of seeking them out.

One is if I want to watch some gameplay footage of an older game, for nostalgia. The other is if I need a basic example for how the gameplay in a game I'm considering actually plays out. In both cases... I almost never want any commentary on the part of the uploader.

Unfortunately that means wading through all of the loudmouth idiots that make up the majority of streamers and "Let's Play" uploaders. There are times I really wish TwitchTV had never become a thing.

Ezekiel:
Because they're interested in what they have to say?

I should hope not, at least as far as what the majority of uploaders seem to have to say. There are exceptions I know, but the sheer level of crap is just staggering. Although I guess maybe that's just Web 2.0 in a nutshell.

Am not really a fan of the idea, but do like to listen to best friends play to somewhat alleviate a current self-imposed isolation, like if you were to leave the radio on for a dog so it doesn't go mad on its' own and tear up the furniture. It's more for the laid back humour and substitute for socialising that no doubt will have diminishing returns until the core problem is fixed, than it is about seeing the game. Podcasts are better in that sense, but it's quite difficult to find ones that click. Strange bandaids for bewildering times.

I only watch Lets Plays of games I've already finished, I watch them for the reactions and discussions.

I can't always play video games myself. Sometimes I need to use my hands for other things, like eating, so Let's Plays allow me to continue to experience video games in situations that would otherwise be devoid of them.

Usually, I watch streams and Let's Plays of people I like the personality of, and often it's games I've played myself already and want to see someone else get joy out of, or games so terrible that said online personality gets a wealth of quips and humor out of it.

In some cases it's simply that you're more there for the player than the game. Take, for instance, Dark Souls 3. Fun to play, but it's a bit of a slog to watch. Watching Criken and his friends roleplay the misadventures of hapless hero "Edwad Emberpants", however? That's funny. By a similar token, Human Fall Flat is not particularly difficult or entertaining to watch. Jack and Robin being ridiculously overdramatic in an extended "father" and "son" bit? It makes me laugh. Watching someone play Pokemon? Bor-ing. But you aren't watching the Game Grumps for the gameplay, you're watching because during those sessions they ab lib things like Pass the Mustard. Goat Simulator? Let's be honest, that was made for streamers to muck around and use as a vehicle for comedy.

Conversely, it can also be useful for figuring out a new game. I hadn't even heard about Subnautica before I saw it in someone's playlist, and after seeing them play it for a while I thought "wow, that looks like fun! I want to try it!" So now it's sitting in my library with a few dozen hours of playtime in as I wait for the full release to start a new playthrough in. Similarly, I got into Monster Hunter and found Gaijin Hunter's videos to be valuable tools in helping me understand the mechanics of the games.

Ever show someone something because you want to see their reaction? That is often one reason I watch Lets Plays. I tend to not watch LPs of games I intend to play but havent yet, but I do watch them of games I maybe am interested in, but dont want to play (many horror games for example), or because I find the people funny.

I havent watched Game Grumps play Dark Souls III yet cause I wanna play it. But when I finally do, I look forward to seeing their reactions to that part. Dunno what that part is yet, but when I get to it, I will look forward to their reaction.

BabyfartsMcgeezaks:
I only watch Lets Plays of games I've already finished, I watch them for the reactions and discussions.

This. It's like showing someone something you seen to see their reactions. I find it utterly delightful to go to a let's play and go beat for beat to see how their reactions compared to mine. Heck I watched a heck of alot of Undertale Let's Plays for this exact reason. Ditto for Resident Evil though i watched the lets plays before the games on that one

Console Exclusives. I just got a beast of a laptop and I don't see any reason to get a PS4 pro or Xbox One X in the near future (especially with the window 11 game store).

But I'm still interested in Until Dawn or Bloodborne. Experience it for myself? That would be great. But if the line up of console doesn't move me, I can't bring myself to shell out four hundred and sixty dollars for a one experience.

Of course there are exceptions. I was poised to buy PS4 for Silent Hills because I've been madly in love with that series for years. But there are simply not enough series I'm madly in love with that will cause me to do such an action.

I watch lets plays for games where I'm interested in the story but don't like the gameplay enough to actually shell out money to play the game. It's for games that I enjoy watching but would not enjoy playing myself.

Well, from my perspective:

1 - The Personalities - Sometimes the people being played can be the main draw. If they're witty, or funny then the game is incidental.

2 - Observing the story of the game - This one is a little multi faceted, but mostly: If you aren't familiar with the story, then you get to watch it without needing the spend money on the game itself. If you are familiar with the story, you may want to see how people reacted to certain bits. If the story involves choice, you may want to see a different side of it.

3 - Observing the gameplay - If the Let's Player is skilled, then sometimes it's fun to watch higher level play.

4 - Too many games, not enough time - If your time/money is limited, then it can sometimes be nice to vicariously experience a game you might not be able to get for yourself.

5 - Seeing before you buy - Some publishers can range from simply manipulative to outright fabricating the truth, it's a very healthy attitude to have to want to see the game being played rather than relying on trailers. Seeing it in motion means that you aren't just seeing the exciting bits designed to hook you in.

6 - Finding a game you might not have played otherwise - There have been numerous occasions where I'd either not heard of a game, or dismissed it entirely until I saw a Let's Play. I wouldn't have bought Dead Cells if I hadn't seen TFS streaming themselves playing it.

I find watching Let's Plays (or Twitch) pretty relaxing and calming if it's a game I've already played. Particularly Wind Waker because that's just a calming game in general.

I hardly ever watch Let's Plays for games I haven't played, but I might do if I'm slightly interested and may potentially buy it in a sale at some unknown future point. Doing so with Dark Souls III at the mo'.

For games that I find interesting but with atrocious gameplay, no-commentary lets plays are the best. Telltale games Walking Dead series and the first Witcher are two games that were made for lets plays.

ZombieProof:
For games that I find interesting but with atrocious gameplay, no-commentary lets plays are the best. Telltale games Walking Dead series and the first Witcher are two games that were made for lets plays.

But then that's not a Let's Play, is it? It's just a playthrough.

Ezekiel:

ZombieProof:
For games that I find interesting but with atrocious gameplay, no-commentary lets plays are the best. Telltale games Walking Dead series and the first Witcher are two games that were made for lets plays.

But then that's not a Let's Play, is it? It's just a playthrough.

That's true.

There is a "lets player" that I do like though and he's literally the only one. I discovered "Many a True Nerd" back when Fallout 4 survival first came out. He's the only one who's personality doesn't feel like an attempt at being more entertaining than the game. All them other jagoffs come off as attention whores hahaha. I can't stomach not a one of em.

I don't watch lets plays but my daughter watches unboxing videos. This shows me two things that I don't think has been brought up yet.

1. Vicariously getting new toys. She watches many toy unboxing. She is generally excited see new toys even if she doesn't get to experience it in person. I'm not going to by all the toys for her. This restricts the physical toys she has. Unboxing lets you have a greater variety of virtual toys

2. Vicarious play. There is a certain way each person plays with the toys. Some get personas and a voice. Some put them into funny situation. My daughter replicates this play with her other toys but adds some imaginary ones too.

ZombieProof:

Ezekiel:

ZombieProof:
For games that I find interesting but with atrocious gameplay, no-commentary lets plays are the best. Telltale games Walking Dead series and the first Witcher are two games that were made for lets plays.

But then that's not a Let's Play, is it? It's just a playthrough.

That's true.

There is a "lets player" that I do like though and he's literally the only one. I discovered "Many a True Nerd" back when Fallout 4 survival first came out. He's the only one who's personality doesn't feel like an attempt at being more entertaining than the game. All them other jagoffs come off as attention whores hahaha. I can't stomach not a one of em.

Supergreatfriend is pretty down to earth too. He doesn't talk through cutscenes or try to make himself more important than the game. He plays a lot of weird games with bad gameplay that I'd never want to actually play myself, too.

Well,

-As a review or preview of a game.
-Keeping up on the storyline of a game you aren't playing yourself for whatever reason (finance, system exclusivity, regional restriction, who knows)
-Walkthrough/tip purposes.
-A sort of substitute or simulation of the "water cooler discussion" idea. Obviously its not (generally) a two way dialogue with the LPer, but there's a historical trend of people wanting to share/hear others experience of games. Adding on to that, if you participate in the comments (or discords or whatever) for a channel that matches your own interest, youll probably be able to have discussion with those of similar interests (that particular case starts to go out the window when you get into the people with tens of thousands of subscribers though)

In the broader sense, there's also just the same idea as watching/listening to any other form of media content. The presenter provides some sort of humor or engaging aspect. Whether thats a riff track style on the game, outside stories with the game as a backdrop, or critical commentary or discussion of the game or games in general.

This is what I wondered for the longest time about as well, until I started liking Pewdiepie.

- If it's a game you've played yourself, you get to see someone else's reaction to it, giving the feeling of playing with a friend or getting to show all the good parts to someone
- If it's commentary heavy (to the point where the gameplay is almost secondary, like with Pewdiepie), it's a sort of form of improv comedy, since all the reactions are spontaneous, unrepeatable and right on the spot. This combined with the visual humor from editing makes it a rather unique form of entertainment
- Some Let's Plays also work as background noise, like Yahtzee's (sadly defunct) Let's Drown Out, or Super Best Friends Play. I like listening to L.D.O in particular when I paint Warhammer figures.
- The most comedy-heavy and frantic types, like Game Grumps, cross over into Rifftrax-style entertainment, where the humor is the main focus.

Drathnoxis:

ZombieProof:

Ezekiel:
But then that's not a Let's Play, is it? It's just a playthrough.

That's true.

There is a "lets player" that I do like though and he's literally the only one. I discovered "Many a True Nerd" back when Fallout 4 survival first came out. He's the only one who's personality doesn't feel like an attempt at being more entertaining than the game. All them other jagoffs come off as attention whores hahaha. I can't stomach not a one of em.

Supergreatfriend is pretty down to earth too. He doesn't talk through cutscenes or try to make himself more important than the game. He plays a lot of weird games with bad gameplay that I'd never want to actually play myself, too.

Thanks man! I'll check it out.

*edit*
Yeah man, this dude's stuff is quality. Thanks for the heads up!

- Vicarious play/nostalgia. I loved playing deep, immersive games like Morrowind and Tie Fighter in my youth, but as a busy adult I simply don't have the time anymore to put forth the necessary investment. It's more expedient to hop onto YouTube and watch someone else have a crack at it for a bit.

- Developer commentary. I'm a fan of the "Thrawn's Revenge" mod for Star Wars: Empire at War. I keep tabs on the creator's YouTube channel, where he often posts LP's of the latest internal builds of the mod. He keeps people updated on the team's progress and offers some insight on the work that goes into such an undertaking.

- Discovering hidden gems I may have missed. I tend to gravitate towards small LP'ers who focus on niche/retro/indie titles. They help me keep track of potentially great games that have fallen through the cracks.

- I usually don't watch more...exuberant LP'ers like Markiplier, but I'll make an exception for "rage games" like Getting Over It. No way in hell am I going to subject myself to stuff like that, so I may as well enjoy a bit of schadenfreude watching them flip their shit over it.

Well, they are useful for getting a first impression of a game that isn't an advertisement for the game itself. It's usually a more hands on preview. They're also better than written walkthroughs for figuring tougher parts of some games.

That said, the overwhelming majority of Let's Play'rs have zero personality or ability to be genuinely funny so they make up for that by either being a loud, obnoxious twat or else just spouting stream-of-consciousness garbage. Most are best played muted. The only guy I watch on semi-regular basis now is Chris Scullion because he was a professional games journalist for like ten years so his commentary is actually pretty well informed.

Only time I watch a Lets Play is to see if I would like the game before I buy it, or to see how a particular mechanic works if it is giving me issues.

There was a puzzle with this set of blocks in the newest Deus Ex that was giving me issues so I looked up a lets play to see how the player there did it.

ZombieProof:

Drathnoxis:
Supergreatfriend is pretty down to earth too. He doesn't talk through cutscenes or try to make himself more important than the game. He plays a lot of weird games with bad gameplay that I'd never want to actually play myself, too.

Thanks man! I'll check it out.

*edit*
Yeah man, this dude's stuff is quality. Thanks for the heads up!

Great, glad you like him! =D

dscross:
Hey everyone,

Just so you are aware this is not intended as a criticism of people who watch Let's Plays and more coming from a place of genuine curiosity. I'm genuinely curious - why have people taken to watching people on YouTube they don't know play and commentate on video games?

I know I sound old but I genuinely don't see the appeal in this. Why wouldn't you just want to experience games yourself or with your friends instead of watching someone for hours on end that you don't know (and who doesn't care about you other than superficially to gain YouTube popularity) ? I mean, some people are making some serious money from just commentating on games they are playing online. Am I missing something here?

Underage kids don't have the cash to buy new games, so they watch youtubers instead.

That's the bulk of the main audience.

dscross:
Hey everyone,
I know I sound old but I genuinely don't see the appeal in this. Why wouldn't you just want to experience games yourself or with your friends instead of watching someone for hours on end that you don't know (and who doesn't care about you other than superficially to gain YouTube popularity) ? I mean, some people are making some serious money from just commentating on games they are playing online. Am I missing something here?

Why would you want to play games at all when you could play outside?

You're right, you do sound old. You don't need to see the appeal of it, other people do and enjoy, good for them. It doesn't need to be explained.

There's generally also too many games out there for someone to buy / actively play now. Adding to that, unlike "early gaming history", very few games put out demo's nowadays. So it's a useful way to figure out what you're gonna be spending money on as well.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here