One of my pleasures related to gaming is to read Let’s Plays, so I thought I might cook up a little blog post about the topic and then open the comments for suggestions! If you’re at a loss for something to occupy your Sunday then you might consider seeking out a LP and reading it with a nice cool refreshing soda/nice soothing hot chocolate, depending on local weather conditions!
A Let’s Play is essentially a player taking the viewers/readers through a game, or series of games, by writing about them, showing screenshots, or providing videos with commentary. LPs come in several flavors but the general principle is to show the reader/viewer the mechanics of the game, examples of artwork, music and FMVs, all that sort of thing. Where relevant you’ll see plot exposition, and very commonly people will show secrets, Easter eggs, perform feats of skill, or abuse game mechanics to show how utterly broken some games can become. Some are serious, some are humorous, usually though the idea is to show the game off, whether it’s to encourage everyone to play something really great or to explore the mendacious depths of a truly turgid turd.
Somewhat related to LPs, but often with a greater focus on storytelling or the like, are After Action Reports (AARs), which I’ve written a short example of for this very site. If you have a quick look at that you’ll see what I mean, I’m not talking about mechanics but rather interpreting what happened in a narrative sense, giving it meaning and context – something strategy games like Darkest Hour are very open to.
A good LP is a great thing; one of the most famous, and one you’ve most probably heard of already, is Boatmurdered. It is an uncommonly hilarious and deeply enjoyable account of a Dwarf Fortress even more doomed than the usual. The fame of Boatmurdered does more than show off the comedic skills of a bunch of goons though; it also had a fairly significant impact on the fame of the game on which it was based, and for an indie game made by a two-man team who rely entirely on donations, this is a fairly big deal.
So as part of gaming’s culture and milieu I think LPs are a great thing, and I really enjoy going through them. Sometimes I read one for a game I thought I knew completely and learn many new things. Sometimes I read one of a game I would never play, and see what others see in it. Sometimes I just find myself tremendously amused.
If you want to find a whole treasure trove of Let’s Plays then the LP Archive is a great place to start. You can also search YouTube and find a vast store of video-based LPs, and various forums have their own sections from Something Awful’s dedicated and vast Let’s Play subforum to Paradox Interactive’s many AAR forums.
Are there any LPs you would recommend to people, any that you’ve found particularly funny, or any that have sparked interest in a game where you had none before? Tell us all about it in the comments below!