The rise of the Let's Play

The bread and butter of many if not all gaming channels on video streaming websites such as YouTube and Twitch, Let’s Plays are an increasingly popular and well-known phenomenon. The rise of the Let’s Play has led to the surge in celebrity status of those who create them, ranging from Pewdiepie (the #1 channel on Youtube with over 40 million subscribers) to Stampylonghead, as well as groups such as Achievement Hunter and the Yogscast. Of course this proliferation of Let’s Play channels is somewhat led by the fact that monetisation of ad revenue could provide a full time job for those who are successful, but the reasons for their ever-growing popularity is down to what they offer. 

Normally you tend to watch Let’s Plays as you cannot afford the game or don’t have the time to organise friends for a proper, lengthy multiplayer sessions (especially during term time at university).

The entire appeal of Let’s Plays is that each channel offers its own unique playthrough of a video game. Some channels focus on presenting more of a critical commentary, discussing the positives and negatives of the game usually in the form of a review. These can act as a guides on whether you should buy a game or not and whether or not it is game you would enjoy playing. Some channels are more humorous in nature, focusing on the fun of video games, often joking at funny experiences in games or their own screw ups. In groups of gamers especially, the banter between one another, often with jokes or pranks at each other’s expense the results can be hilarious. Of course, the type of humour differs from channel to channel, with some offering more absurd, wacky humour and some dry, understated humour while others have a mix of both. Moreover, certain channels focus on different types of games, from survival horror to first-person shooter action games, and even anime-themed dating sims if you are that way inclined. Ultimately it is not difficult to find the channel for you. Normally you tend to watch Let’s Plays as you cannot afford the game or don’t have the time to organise friends for a proper, lengthy multiplayer sessions (especially during term time at university). However over time from watching these channels you often grow attached and invested in the person or group, picking up on long-running jokes, catchphrases and gags which newer viewers may not understand. You may even start talking to other fans and become part of a community. Oftentimes you can find yourself watching a Let’s Play of a certain game just because it is your favourite channel and you like the person or groups who are commentating over the walkthrough, even if you are not interested in the game itself.

Let’s Plays are continuing to rise in popularity and are now established as a type of online entertainment in the modern age. This rise has come from their variety, ranging from formal reviews to wacky adventures or even people just messing about. However, together with a unique experience, the sense of community and a personal connection between you as the viewer and them as the gamer or gamers built over time, these often misunderstood Let’s Plays offer a distinct form of entertainment that cannot be matched on TV or film. Let’s face it: who wouldn’t rather watch gamers dogfighting in jets in GTA V over yet another murder in dreary EastEnders?

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