Let’s Play videos have been getting their entertainment value questioned a lot in the past year. From being the subject of scrutiny by Jimmy Kimmel and the writers of South Park to a lot of the general population it always comes back to one simple question, “Why are you watching someone play a game instead of playing it yourself?” So today I’m going to discuss my personal reasons for watching Let’s Play videos. My focus is going to be specifically on the three I watch (Mark Fischbach aka Markiplier, James & Mike Mondays, and Conan O’Brien’s “Clueless Gamer” segments).
-Franchise Fatigue/Getting the Story-
A little over a year and a half ago the game Five Nights at Freddy’s was released and took the Internet by storm. Curiosity got the better of me and I finally played the game. While the story was interesting I found the game itself was only mildly fun. Once I finished all five nights I didn’t feel the need to continue. Except that only three months later came the sequel. I played the demo and got so annoyed with the new mechanics that I quit after one night. But I still needed to know where the story of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria was going. So I jumped onto Markiplier’s Youtube channel to watch the rest of game and see how the story unfolded. And I did the exact same thing for Parts Three and Four of the series. This allowed me to stay in the loop storywise without plunking down ten dollars for a game that would become more of a chore than a joy to play.
-The Entertainment/Comedic Factor-
It’s always fun to see a person who has no experience in gaming react if forced to into playing any game. You get an outsider’s perspective on the ludicrous nature of some games. When I saw Conan O’Brien play Slender: The Eight Pages I was laughing hysterically. He pointed out how the game wasn’t nearly as horrifying as people had hyped it to be. Co-host Erin Blair asked Conan if he was scared to which Conan replied, “I would say, does boredom count as scared?” To me that was the perfect summation of Slender: The Eight Pages. Through the rest of the segment he played Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast to great comedic effect. The commentary Conan provided was just as hilarious as seeing his reactions of boredom and fright.
As someone who has been a fan of James Rolfe and the Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) series I was stoked when he announced that a film was being made. The only downside was that meant the show was going on hiatus during the film’s production. Fortunately, Rolfe and collaborator Mike Matei began filming James & Mike Mondays where the pair would do Let’s Plays. This was good for both AVGN fans and the creators. Let’s Plays were easier to film and edit than traditional Nerd episodes and it meant that there was still content being uploaded regularly. We also got to see that Rolfe and Matei’s friendship lead to some of the funniest comments on the games being played.
So what are your thoughts on the Let’s Play genre? Do you think that they’re something worth watching? Are you still not convinced there’s any merit to them? Do you have a favorite Let’s Play creator that I didn’t talk about?