A Look Back At: The Rise of the Let’s Play – An Introduction

Of course, I don’t think I can possibly comment on the last generation of gaming, as a whole, without at least broaching upon a subject which is near and dear to my own heart, the Rise of the Let’s Play. Try and think of this as more of a… introduction, I feel that I need to be more specific than I have been for this particular subject.

Obviously, this little… whatever this is, will have a great deal of ‘fanboyism’ (is that a word? I feel like that should be a word) for both Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter, two channels I am particularly devoted to, but I’ll try and remain at least a little neutral.

First of all, Let’s Plays are simple enough, if you aren’t already a consumer. The player/s take a game and… well, just play it, recording as they do so. It takes a strong, or at least a funny, personality to make these videos work if recorded solo, but even in groups it requires a dynamic that is shared by few people who actually play together on a regular basis, no matter what they may believe. That is definitely the difference between, say, an Achievement Guide and a Let’s Play. Often these two crafts, if that is what you believe they can be called (I certainly do), run synonymous to each other, some of the best Let’s Players having learnt what kind of topic, game and narrative voice works whilst recording Achievement Guides or Walkthroughs.

I am a huge consumer of Let’s Plays, whether this be because it allows me to vicariously enjoy games I doubt I’ll ever play, because they make me laugh when they are done well, or encourage me to buy the games I see being played. I don’t think this last point is just for me though, it can’t be a coincidence that GTA IV goes on a massive On Demand sale for Xbox Gold Members, and just a few short weeks after the guys at Achievement Hunter began a series of Let’s Plays in the title. I know that GTA V comes out soon, and that will have something to do with this sudden sale, but I still feel that the AH lads have had an effect on the decision.

As an example, every other week I start to lose interest in Minecraft, drifting away to other games for a short period, then I’ll watch a Minecraft Let’s Play and be straight back on the game, trying to conjure up my own landmarks to rival that of Achievement City’s. Of course, maybe it isn’t just the Let’s Plays that draw the huge audience in. Of course, there is Red Vs Blue and now RWBY, RT Shorts and RT Life, amongst countless other video series’, which can always be guaranteed to at least put a smile on my face. These are, obviously, leaning more towards Rooster Teeth as a company in general, rather than the specifics of AH, but they can only help.

AH aren’t the only ones I feel as though are changing the face of the internet. One of the greatest, and funniest, video game reviewers (in my opinion, you may disagree but, well, you’d be wrong) Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw, along with creating the hilarious and yet still informative Zero Punctuation series, he has also written a novel, writes scathing poetry based on the gaming industry and, a discovery which almost had me squealing with joy, records Let’s Plays of the games he played when he was a child. Yahtzee’s  LP’s are vastly different from AH’s, though remaining absolutely hilarious, they also offer a great deal more information on the game itself, showing a style of gaming which most of the younger generation of gamers will have missed. Hell, I only joined in towards the end of the style of games they discuss, but I still remember games like Fantasy World Dizzy on the Sega Megadrive, and I remember owning an Atari, before I fully understood what one was.

Honestly, I feel that there is quite a lot I could say about LP’s, but it needs more a specific look than just a general overview. With that in mind, I believe I shall leave it here for now, but expect another ‘article’ soon; I’ve got far too much to say on this subject, to leave it at a half-baked introduction.

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