Let's Play (genre)

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Let's Play (LP) involve video games paired with player commentary. The phenomena originated on the forum Something Awful, where users documented their playthroughs in forum threads.

LPs show a videogame being played while the player talks about what he is doing in commentary with video, screenshots or both. Generally the playthroughs are spread over several segments of play (varying in time). Rarely some action is done "off screen" or speeded up to not get too repetitive, but in most cases the playthrough is a complete run of the game including all "Game Overs" and deaths, done in informative or humourous style so as to keep your attention. [1]

LPs and "real" game fans

Fail Fandom Anon discussed whether someone whose primary exposure to a video game can be a "real" fan.

I am getting into a new fandom - the first video game I've been fannish about in a way that has led me to seek out fic. It's plotty and full of worldbuilding, which is what attracts me. Unfortunately, it's a genre of game I'm intensely bad at. I've played it a bit, but I suck enough that I know I will never beat it. So I've gotten into it by watching a good, detailed let's play, the kind that includes the cutscenes and the grind-y weapons upgrading sessions and occasional long series of faily deaths. As much time and squee as I've poured into watching the game, I'm worried that I'm somehow a less complete fan because I haven't and can't play the whole game through.
Video game nonnies, what are your feelings on fans who get into games this way and then make fanworks? Should I keep my LP-watching ways quiet?

One nonnie responded:

I've always rolled my eyes at the fans who insist that you HAVE to play the game YOURSELF because having a controller in your hand makes it an entirely different experience and you can never TRULY understand the game or care about any of its elements until you've experienced it...
There are some people out there who will say that, definitely. It's a load of crock. Especially for games which have characters, plot, and worldbuilding, it's entirely possible to be a fan and really care about all of those elements even if you don't play it yourself. If you watch a good, detailed Let's Play or watch a friend play it through, and don't just try to get all your info off Wiki and/or GameFaqs (I've seen this, too, and it's the only method I'd call questionable), you're good.

Another nonnie said:

I don't think it's a terrible thing, or you're doing it wrong, but I do think you're getting only a partial experience. Video games are games, they're meant to be played - even annoying deaths and mind-numbing grinding are as much a part of the experience as the plot and characters and world. Depending on what game it is, the gameplay could change how you feel about it entirely. To me, it's like watching a (not silent obviously) movie without sound - you can still appreciate and I wouldn't say you don't understand it, but you're possibly missing a very important part. And tbh some games are only redeemable because they're fun to play and for no other reason, but I'm guessing this isn't one of those games, lol.
If you're having fun I don't mean to harsh your squee or anything, I'm glad you're enjoying it... though I'd keep quiet about it because video game fandom can be harsh. [2]

Copyright Issues

In 2013, Nintendo decided to claim copyright ownership over LPs posted on Youtube; the videos wouldn't be kicked off Youtube, but Nintendo would receive all ad revenue generated by the videos that formerly went to the users. See BoingBoing and Game Front.

A Reddit thread lists all game makers that allow monetized LPs.

Example LPs

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.



  1. ^ Frequently Asked Questions - The Let's Play Archive (Accessed Sept. 23, 2012)
  2. ^ New Fandom Angst. Thread started 2012-10-09. Last accessed 2012-10-09.