Growing up, video games were not exactly a welcome part of my family’s household, mostly due to the exorbitant cost of video games and consoles and an attitude of pointed disinterest enforced by my parents. For a while I wasn’t too bothered by this fact and was happy to devote my interests elsewhere, such as watching anime and reading manga. It really wasn’t until I went to college and met my core group of friends that my ignorance became an issue: all of my friends were gamers. They’d all spend hours playing Assassin’s Creed, and complaining about the final boss fight in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and reminiscing about their favorite N64 games. I had no idea what they were talking about and no way of commiserating with them over experiences I didn’t have. So I tried to find ways to educate myself, and that’s how I discovered the Let’s Play community on YouTube.
A ‘Let’s Play’ or LP on YouTube is (typically) a series of videos that record playthroughs of a specific video game with audio commentary from the let’s player, or the person playing the game. The Let’s Play community has a fairly substantial representation on YouTube and several of these channels are so popular they rank among the top 100 most subscribed YouTube channels, with Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg aka PewDiePie currently sitting at #2 with about 15.7 million subscribers.
What I love about watching LPs (as a highly competitive person and a perfectionist) is they allow me to experience playing a video game (FOR FREE) without the inevitable feelings of failure and stress from actually playing the game. Also, by watching these videos I could quickly gain vast and detailed knowledge about the games via the recorded commentary. After watching some of these videos at school, suddenly I was not only contributing in my friends’ discussions on video games, I was doling out advice and techniques for completing tricky levels, and sharing locations of secret or hidden content. I became an invaluable resource (at least in my mind). Most of all I love that by watching these videos I finally have a way of connecting with my friends the gamers, and an alternative way of accessing a fascinating and passionate video game culture.
Overall, the best part about the Let’s Play community is that they satisfy a wide range of viewers, not just people like me seeking passive participation only. They are a great source of information and often offer demonstrations for working through difficult content in specific games. Also, if you’re curious about a game but unsure whether it’s worth purchasing, you can watch someone else play the game to get a better idea of what to expect as far as things like game mechanics and storylines go. Plus, there’s an amazing amount of diversity among let’s players themselves, not only in the games they choose to play but also in their commentary style. So it’s pretty much a guarantee that there is a let’s player that is perfect for you!
Here are some of the LP channels I follow and enjoy the most:
Chuggaaconroy: He is one of the first and most popular let’s players on YouTube, making LPs for various Nintendo games such as Super Mario Sunshine, Earthbound, and Mother 3. He has a very information-heavy commentary style, providing in-depth explanations and demonstrations of game mechanics. He also does an incredible amount of research on relevant content for each LP, all for the viewer’s benefit. For example, in his LP of Ōkami, a game steeped in Japanese lore and mythology, he would identify who each character was supposed to represent in Japanese mythology and give a brief summary of the stories or history about that character.
TobyGames: The gaming channel for Toby Turner aka Tobuscus, famous YouTube personality. This channel is popular for his dramatic and hilarious commentary, often due to his deliberately choosing games that frighten him, such as Fear 3 and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Unlike Chuggaaconroy, Toby goes into most of his let’s plays with little-to-no knowledge about the game beforehand. He will most often do a playthrough blind, which can be either frustrating or amusing depending upon the viewer.
RoosterTeeth: Rooster Teeth is a production studio and multi-channel network. Their company produces and releases an incredible amount of content weekly, a significant portion of it devoted to video games. They have a separate Let’s Playchannel and they also release two weekly podcasts, one of which is called ‘The Patch’ that is devoted entirely to the discussion of video games and game industry news.
I hope that you consider checking out these channels and/or enjoy exploring the Let’s Play content YouTube has to offer!