I’m an ‘old-school’ console gamer. My youth was filled with Super Nintendo, N64, and Playstations 1-2. High-speed internet was only becoming a thing towards the end of my high school years and I only caught the front-end of online games with Starcraft and Diablo. Since entering college, I never touched a console until a roommate of mine in grad school was gifted a Playstation 4 and that filled my time up between research and education. I never got into the YouTube gaming circles nor Twitch nor anything related to online gaming and game production.
So when I first learned that “Let’s Play” types of videos where you essentially watch someone play a game usually meant for one person to experience began appearing on Twitch and YouTube, I was extremely skeptical and thought it was quite strange. Why would I watch someone play rather than play the game myself? Why would I resort to streaming someone else’s enjoyment on a 13’ screen rather than hooking up a console and diving into a big screen? It seemed unfulfilling and rather vapid.
BUT, as my article title has already spoiled, I resorted to a Let’s Play video series/stream due to an uncontrollable circumstance (explained below in the first point) and found myself extremely surprised and hooked. For anyone interested in games or even avid gamers who have yet to follow this type of experience and footage, here are my main reasons for trying
So the accident that forced me into this genre was my burning desire to play a new title, State of Decay 2. I love both zombie-themed content as well as toolbox-style games that allow you to grind away into a unique experience. Unfortunately, I’m a Playstation guy and own neither an XBox (which this game was exclusive on for consoles) nor a suitable PC. So my options were to either 1. Steal an XBox from a friend or stranger, 2. Wait for an adaptation that was likely never coming to the Playstation 4, or 3. Try to forget about it and ultimately spend all day every day wallowing in lament.
That’s when a simple search brought me to Cartoonz’s YouTube page. Not only does he do a complete playthrough that provided dozens of hours of entertainment, but he’s also a brilliant and hilarious commentator.
So Let’s Play types allow you do experience games that you might not have access to but also games that you might be interested in experiencing but don’t want to slam down 60+ dollars for. I’ve watched brilliant games like Senua’s Sacrifice in this manner and my bank account has never been happier.
Until diving in to the world of streams, I merely assumed that most streamers were teenagers who would just rather make money off of Twitch rather than sit through college seminars. I was very surprised to find a more diverse demographic than that, in particular the video makers who had some involvement in the game’s production or part of its marketing/review. These people walk you through all the hidden wonders and backdrop considerations that are in any given game and for particular genres/titles, watching them can be a very enriching experience.
One prime example is someone I now follow closely in [FighitinCowboy’(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9N0DmacOi4iWKQyygX89OQ) who I believe has worked on Player’s Guides for many unique titles including a few in the Dark Souls series, a genre I favor over most. These games are stacked in lore, detail, and literally hidden content, the majority of which you would glaze over if not for some companion commentary. Despite me having played through Dark Souls 2, Dark Souls 3, and Bloodborne many times, I still find myself following Cowboy’s streams as he scours the games for all their offerings with descriptions you would not find documented anywhere else. It’s like having a sportscaster or historian give you the gist of any given sporting or historical event. Really great stuff.
All Play, at Work
This one is a bit of sneaky last add-on but fairly significant in its own right. For the most part, unless you work directly for Kojima, you can’t play games during work hours. BUT, you can plug in your headphones, strut up your smartphone, and indulge in your favorite pastime any moment there’s some busy work or your coworker Bill can’t stop talking about his newest pair of golf shoes.
So what do you think? Have you seen a Let’s Play? Any preferred streamers? Let me know in the comments!