The first “let’s play” I ever watched wasn’t even called a let’s play at the time. Back in the day, all gameplay videos were “walkthroughs”, even if the person was playing it for the first time. I imagine this was also before people were even aware of the appeal of let’s plays, given that this was long before the uprising of YouTube, especially for gaming.
It must have been around 2006 when I popped onto Gamespot to see gameplay videos of Kingdom Hearts II. Back then, I used Gamespot to see not only previews/reviews, but also user submitted content such as combo videos and walkthroughs. It was then that I stumbled across a group of players playing KHII for the first time, about 3 of them if I recall correctly, and they were giving witty (but not forced) commentary during the gameplay.
What really engaged me about this was that it wasn’t just some paid reviewer talking over the game, or some PR agent trying to sell it to you; it was gamers, just like me, enjoying the game for the first time. This was particularly enjoyable for me because it reminded me of all the times I would spend with cousins and friends, playing/replaying games. We’d done this for games on the N64, Gamecube and PS2. It was how I was introduced to Smash, Mario Kart, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and other Gamecube games.
So, in the spirit of nostalgia for my couch gaming experiences, I was immediately attached to this “walkthrough” of Kingdom Hearts II. See, I didn’t have the game at the time, and my only portal into the game was through the gameplay from the users on Gamespot. Once again, this was pre-YouTube’s gaming boom, so I didn’t have anywhere else to find the content. That said, once gaming on YouTube started to build up a year or so later, I’d spend several after school days watching gameplay of Sonic Adventure 2 and Kingdom Hearts II.
These days, let’s plays are a thriving business which pull in thousands of views and generate tons of revenue content for YouTubers. As such, it’s a big competitive market and regular joe schmoe can hardly get anywhere without any luck. It’s tough, for sure, and even with my attempts at making let’s play content I’ve only received relative success. I can also see some people’s issues with let’s plays, given how saturated they are now, and how a lot of them aren’t even good.
Personally, I can’t hate let’s plays as a concept, given my history with them and what it means to me. Like with anything else in life, there’s good and bad things about it, so I don’t like all let’s plays or let’s players. However, I greatly admire those that made it something with great gain; being paid to play games and be with a community of dedicated fans is a dream of mine. Perhaps, most gamers’ dreams, to be honest.
Well, now you know my history with let’s plays and why I enjoy them so much, and why I have half-assedly (but earnestly) attempted some. Hopefully, with the newer consoles it’ll be easier for me to push out more content like that. Please look forward to it!
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