To Let’s Play, Or Not To Let’s Play, That Is The Question…

emily wants to play pose

I love playing games. I love watching other people play games. Basically, I’m a fan of games in pretty much any form.

I’ve historically watched my partner play many games (the Assassin’s Creed series, and various entries in the Legend of Zelda series among them) and enjoyed those experiences. I’ve also (in the last five years or so) watched Let’s Plays online, but only in a limited form. I’ve stuck exclusively to Game Informer’s Super Replay series (where they play an older game all the way through), and only occasionally seen them play through a somewhat current game. Most of the Super Replays are of games from previous generations, and often games I wouldn’t have gotten to myself.

Someone I play games with online on a regular basis watches Let’s Plays for a ton of current games.

I am not on board that same train.

If a new game comes out that I’m interested in, I want to get my hands on it and play it for myself. The idea of watching someone else play through it seems odd. Games, to me, are interactive experiences. To watch someone else play it when I want to play it myself feels disconnected to me. In the cases where I’ve seen someone play a current game, I find myself wanting to play it (for myself) less.

I never thought much about it, until I mentioned to him this week that I recently bought a horror game called Emily Wants to Play. He immediately told me he had seen someone play it. I was like, seriously? It just came out? But yes, he had.

I don’t begin to judge anyone’s gaming (or viewing) choices, but I did take note of the difference in how we approach the subject.

Last year I wrote about a similar topic, but it was focused a bit more on when you see someone else play a game in person (though now, through Share Play, it can be done remotely). I talked a bit about seeing my partner play a game and feeling sated enough that I no longer felt the need to play it for myself.

Of course, my online gaming friend has also watched me play games via Share Play (and helped me find certain things in No Man’s Sky when I was thinking of giving up on the game), and I think Share Play is one of the coolest features of the PS4. I’ve Share Played Destiny to show it off to my brother. I’ve Share Played a god awful survival horror game to my online friend (really, it was the worst). I love the functionality and hope to use it more in the future.

Back to Let’s Plays.

I know there is a huge audience for them, and I’m glad they exist for the folks who are either on the fence about certain titles, the people who perhaps can’t afford to buy in to every new release yet still want to have the experience (even if it is hands off), or the people who just like to watch them in general.

So, while Let’s Plays of current games may not be for me, I understand their appeal. With that I ask, how do you feel about Let’s Plays of new releases? Do they affect you wanting to play the game for yourself? Do you watch them for new games or old games or both or neither? I’d love to discuss it.

With that, I wish you a safe and excellent long weekend, whether you are watching games or playing them. Cheers, friends.

21 replies »

  1. I enjoyed this post, definitely put a smile on my face. For me Let’s Plays come down to one of two things. First if it’s a game I like the story of but not the gameplay then I always go to a Let’s Play. Like Inside for example (and Limbo before it) the premise is really cool but I’m not interested in playing a 2D puzzle plat former myself. The second is does this game have a gameplay loop I can get behind? Usually for open world games. I’ll find a spoiler free Let’s Play and if I like what I see I’ll stop and usually get the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “…You think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you…”

      :)

      I’m so old.

      I’m only teasing; I’m glad you liked it! And both those reasons make a lot of sense. It’s also inadvertently cost effective. Bonus!

      Like

      • LOL I know that song, Thel and her mom are fond of singing that. And I see where you’re coming from, watched so much Arkham Asylum that I never got it even though I enjoyed the gameplay a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s such a fine line between seeing enough to whet the appetite and seeing enough to pass on the game. But some games you just have to get your hands on, you know? After thinking about Infamous again recently, I feel the need to go back and play the first two. They are SO GOOD.

        Like

    • I agree with Nathaniel, Let’s Play have their place in gaming. Especially if you want a game; are unsure as to whether said game is in your “wheelhouse” when it comes to genre or storyline. I too, try to find spoiler free playthroughs. Or I check gameranx’ Before You Buy segment. Usually this helps; as a last resort, I check several sites in regards to reviews. Just my two cents!

      Rebekah, I completely agree with you on the Test Chamber comment. They definitely are a HUGE help, imho when it comes to deciding whether a game is worth purchasing or not. Sometimes, you watch to gauge an interest in a game that you have heard of; you may not know much about the game. There could be an aspect, whether its the story, characters, devs, etc.a

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      • I’m all for Test Chambers and the like, but full playthroughs of new games just aren’t for me. If it’s a game I have no intention of playing, I would go for that, but otherwise, I’m not into seeing a full game.

        I love that Test Chambers don’t spoil much and that, like you said, gives you a good idea of what to expect and if you will like it. If I’d waited to do that with Homefront, I could have saved some money! Oh well.

        Like

  2. I watch a good amount of them, but with a caveat – I won’t watch if I haven’t played the game myself first.

    Also, I only watch for specific kinds of games, and then only blind let’s plays. Usually ones that are explicitly story driven – things like The Last of Us, for example. That game is a narrative powerhouse, and I’d love to be able to experience it again for the first time. Sadly, I lack time manipulation powers, but I can kind of feel it again if I watch someone else play through it fur the first time, and I can see their reactions. I get a lot of enjoyment from that.

    I also love a good blind Dark Souls playthrough. A game that is all about challenge, exploration, and triumph make for a really engaging watch, v especially to someone like me who, not to toot my own horn, has beaten it a LOT of times. It’s fun watch sunshine else do it for their first time.

    Tl;dr: Let’s Plays of new games that I haven’t done myself, boo. Let’s Plays of older games that I’ve played to death, yay!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Brad Brad the Platinum Man?! Welcome!

      I’m right there with that. My only exceptions are for older games that I don’t have a lot of interest in, and even then, I watch for the commentary rather than the game itself.

      That’s an interesting point. I hadn’t thought about watching other people experience games I love for the first time. It makes me think of when I tried and tried (in vain) to get my brother to play BioShock. He finally tried and he told me he didn’t get past the initial part where you pick up the wrench because it was too scary. That surprised me, but then it shows how different people view the same thing.

      P.S. I liked your TL:DR. :)

      Like

  3. I’m basically with you. I also enjoy watching Let’s Plays of older games I may have missed on Game Informer. I think the biggest draw for me is the entertainment I derive from the personalities of the editors involved more than the game itself. I do tend to steer clear of games that I still do intend to play myself, because like you I want to have that experience.

    When it comes to new games, I have started watching more Quick Looks, Test Chambers, etc. because I’ve found it to be a great way to discover a game I didn’t know I wanted or to see for myself that a game I wanted wouldn’t be a good choice after all. Even then, I avoid those when I know I want the game and I want the entire experience to be fresh. No Man’s Sky was that way. While I watched all of the trailers and interviews that hit my regularly followed outlets, I avoided game play videos like the plague to not color my personal experience.

    I do see the appeal though. I mean, GI sold me on the Replay series based on the description of it being like MST3K but for video games. And we all know you don’t watch MST3K to see the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. I’m also in it for the commentary as opposed to the game. Occasionally GI has had a Super Replay for an actually “good” game, and those are like a delightful bonus.

      I’m also right there with you on Test Chambers. I watch them for both games I know I want, as well as games I haven’t heard of. That’s how I heard about Valley and I’m totally excited to play it.

      Well said in your last paragraph. Well said, indeed.

      Like

  4. I’m basically with you. I also love watching GI’s Replay and Super Replay offerings, but the game itself is the least of what draws me in. They sold me on the concept with a description that was basically MST3K but for video games, and everyone knows you don’t watch MST3K because you really want to see the movies. What I enjoy the most is the antics and jokes of the editors. The games to play a part, because if it’s a game I still intend to play for myself I’ll skip the video altogether. I’d prefer to go into a game I want to play as fresh as possible.

    I have really got into Test Chambers, Quick Looks, etc. because they’re such a great way to effectively see if a game I wasn’t sure about or hadn’t heard of is something I’m going to like. But even then, if I KNOW I want to play that game I won’t watch. No Man’s Sky was that way. I followed all of the trailers and interviews that hit my regularly followed outlets, but I avoided game play videos like the plague.

    I get the appeal of Let’s Plays, especially when you find the people involved particularly entertaining. Maybe I’m just looking at a person’s enjoyment of Let’s Plays as more of a TV replacement rather than a gaming replacement, if that makes sense. Maybe it just fills a different need?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I figured something like that happened. I wish when people submitted comments (that weren’t with WordPress, etc.) it would be more clear to the person writing the comment that it is pending approval and not lost to the internet. It’s very odd.

      Either way, it came through! And yes, thank goodness!

      Like

    • Really? But my speaking voice is so dumb.

      Also, thank you. I’d love to do one, but I’m afraid no one would actually watch and I’d just be playing online talking to myself.

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      • I’d watch. It is definitely tricky when you’re doing it by yourself, because you’re talking to yourself. It’s quite a bit easier, I think, to have at least one other person with you so there is a natural conversation happening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Really? Thank you!

        And I agree. I’d love if there was someone else who I could team up with, but I’m not sure who could commit to a streaming schedule (I like my schedules!). It’s something to think about for sure. I’d like to have the dynamic of two people as opposed to one. Especially when the one is me.

        Like

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