As I mentioned a few posts ago, I quite like playing video games, though I’m not much of a gamer. I’m a busy man, I’ve got stuff to do! Admittedly a lot of that stuff is no more exciting than washing pots and sorting out laundry, but just because it’s dull doesn’t mean it can be put off forever.
I used to listen to a lot of music while doing chores like this, but lately I’ve taken to half-watching videos as I go. It’s an extra level of engagement, an extra stimulus to offset the tedium of household tasks.
I started watching video reviews, mainly from Channel Awesome. I may well talk about them another time, though, as I have lately been watching more and more Let’s Play videos.
A Let’s Play video is pretty simple – it’s a video in which you watch someone play a game and comment on it. As far as I’m concerned it’s the next best thing to playing a game, especially if it’s on a games system I don’t own or is so ludicrously far out of my current price range but I just want to get a peek at it.
The videomakers are the ones who make or break the video, of course. If they’re interesting or funny. that’s it, you’re hooked. They could give you tips and and interesting nuggets of trivia about the game developers. More often you get to see their surprise, joy and/or frustration as they work through the game. The more frustrating games often make for the funniest playthroughs, of course. These folks can be quite creative in their use of colourful language.
It might seem odd that anyone would enjoy watching someone else play a video game. After all, most of the appeal of playing a game is figuring out the puzzles, working out the gameplay, learning its secrets. You get something very different from a lets play. Sure, you get to learn a bit about the game, get some second-hand experience of it before you buy. But the main appeal of a Let’s Play video is a bit different.
Through watching a Let’s Play video, you get an insight into the player rather than the game. You can see what makes them tick, what they enjoy and what makes them explode with apoplectic rage, You share their highs, their lows, the jump scares and the cold sweats. It’s an emotional journey and you’re along for the ride.
There are celebrities of a sort within the field. You’ve got Roosterteeth’s Achievement Hunter, a group of nerds and geeks who have achieved internet fame through playing games and not taking them especially seriously (amongst many other things; Roosterteeth is a many-tentacled beast of many talents). My current favourite, Markiplier is a mostly-lovely, very funny man with a smooth voice like a radio announcer dipped in honey. These are folks who have accumulated many thousands of fans over the years and have loyal fanbases. This is what they do for a living. They are Internet Royalty.
There are slightly more niche Let’s Players as well, retro gamers for example. There’s a lovely English gentleman by the name of JimPlaysGames who, amongst other things, plays Amiga games. This lets me wallow in nostalgia – and experience games I always wanted to play but could never get my hands on. Even with an emulator, I’ve been spoiled by modern games. I’d find the gameplay too clunky. But watching someone else play, that I can do with little to no frustration!
The best part of videos like this, as with most internet video type things, is you don’t need to have oodles of cash and equipment and a professional entertainment background to join in. Got a computer? Got games? Got time? Got passion? That’ll do you. Go and excel, work hard at playing hard. It’s not easy, sure, but it can be done. I know several people who are doing it, either as a hobby or because it’s something they pursue seriously. My friend DarkKai3 is one such. See also Firebutton Gaming and A02034040. These are people some of you readers will know. I’ll leave it to you to see if you recognise their voices.
Would I ever be interested in making a Let’s Play video? Perhaps. I have a face for radio and a voice for silent movies, along with an overconfidence in my ability to improve, so I probably won’t. But it would be an interesting experience, being enjoyably rubbish at a game and wondering if anyone is having fun watching me suck.
I think all those guys I’ve linked to up there are safe, though.
I’m too busy washing pots.
And sorting laundry.
And watching Let’s Play videos.