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Let's Play

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"[...] have you ever seen a DVD, you know, how they do director's commentary and stuff? Well, imagine if some jackass who was not involved with the creation of the movie at all decided to just comment on what he thought watching the movie would be like. Well, that's kinda like what we are here now."

Let's Play is a relatively recent revival of an old concept, which became mainstream (for a certain value of mainstream) due to the Something Awful forums in the west and GameCenter CX in Japan, and has since branched out to independent players on YouTube as well as other forums and media.

Essentially, it's a screenshot or video Walkthrough with entertaining commentary; the goal generally isn't to Speed Run through it, but to show off how the player plays the game normally. Mistakes and multiple deaths are often left intact, for the sake of humor. Performance Anxiety for those who commentate over the game as they play leads to a large number of mistakes, often of the hilarious variety because of the stupidity of the mistakes — an effect compounded by the inherent distraction of trying to play and keep up a witty banter at the same time (imagine texting while driving with Everything Trying to Kill You).

The tone and style will vary greatly with the nature of the game and those playing them. Some use screenshots and captions, whilst others use videos, or a mix of both. Some of those videos have voice commentary, and some use subtitles. Some players may already know all there is to know about the game and attempt to show off everything about it; others are going in completely blind and have no idea what to expect (horror games are most often LPed in this manner, as the candidness of the player's reaction may be more engaging to the audience than the game itself); some record commentary while playing, others record it after the footage is recorded; and still more may deliberately invoke both with co-commentators - the player showing off all that they can while being accompanied by a friend who has never seen the game before. Depending on the quality and style of the game, the LP may be in-character Fan Fic of sorts, an informative walkthrough, or closer to a MST, the latter especially common if there's multiple commentators involved. Often they also have some degree of fan input; the viewers may submit their own side material, vote on a certain course of action to take, or offer suggestions.

Emulation and heavy use of save-states is often involved (though making use of the latter incredibly obvious is commonly discouraged), as most of the consoles and games able to be currently emulated don't have a save or password feature. For the most part, cheating is discouraged, though doing boring parts (like grinding for levels in RPGs) "off-camera" is encouraged. On the other hand, some LPs embrace cheats and hacks as their gimmick to mix things up.

Computers love to attempt suicide by any means possible partway through (a phenomenon often known as the "Let's Play Curse"), and video hosts that are not YouTube tend to delete all game footage or die entirely shortly after becoming a reasonably popular host for Let's Plays. Sturgeon's Law is in effect, and many Let's Plays on forums won't last long if they're not gripping.

In July/August 2011, Nintendo of Europe became what may be the first company to use the Let's Play phenomenon as a way of actually promoting their games. For the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 1, in addition to the usual trailers and such, a 7-part mini-Let's Play showcasing portions of the game was released. Later, they even held a "Make Your Own Let's Play" contest for the same game.

See also Web Video, which covers live-action narrative videos released online, as well as the webcomic of the same name. Compare with Actual Play for Tabletop RPGs.

Please do not add this page to a work's trope list. No matter how famous the LPer behind it, the fact that a game has had a Let's Play of it is Not a Trope. note 

This video provides a succinct history of Let's Plays.

Tropes often involved in Let's Plays:

  • Better as a Let's Play: Watching someone else's reactions and decisions as they play the game is almost as or more entertaining than actually playing it yourself.
  • In-Character Let's Play: The player pretends to be a fictional character for the whole playthrough.
  • Rage Quit: Player may get frustrated and bail on the game they are playing if they can't get past a certain part after a certain amount of tries or episodes.

Sub-indexes of Let's Players:

Let's Players with their own pages on the wiki:

Alternative Title(s): L Ping, Lets Plays, Lets Players