Why Do We Watch Let’s Plays?

A Look Into the Past

No matter how old you are, we all recall our childhood, taking whatever old bulky video game console we had, and playing our favorite games together with a friend all day and night; even into the next day. It gave all these games we were so used to playing alone a new light. Instead of just sitting at home, silent in the dark, you actually got to share the experience of playing your favorite games with someone you enjoyed being with.

Since then, YouTube has certainly taken quite the toll on how we enjoy our entertainment lately. Television is starting to look more like a piece of history rather than a source of entertainment. I know my YouTube to TV ratio in recent years has turned COMPLETELY on it’s head, and a majority of content I watch on YouTube is Let’s Plays. They’ve completely taken over my time, and I can’t help but watch and enjoy myself.

Markiplier and Egoraptor
Markiplier and Egoraptor

How I Got Started Watching

I started watching YouTube myself a few years ago and it wasn’t even until a few years ago when I finally had access to the internet! I’d have to watch TV and deal with the ridiculous amounts of commercials, but once that wireless modem was installed my life completely changed. My appetite for entertainment after was fully composed of only watching people play video games.

I discovered YouTubers like PewDiePie, Achievement Hunters, Game Grumps, and many other great Let’s Players. I finally had something satisfying to keep me busy now. All of these four minute sketches weren’t doing it, and I don’t enjoy Netflix because you have to concentrate on a specific plot, but Let’s Plays are different. I now have something to listen to after a long day while I’m working on homework or anything else.

What’s the Point to Watching?

But why do I like it? Why do I like to watch a game I could be playing instead of some other person on the internet? Many people see that and are turned off immediately. Other people stay and enjoy their experience, but why? YOU could be playing GTA instead of this stranger. YOU could be experiencing the story of an amazing game, yet people would rather watch someone play those games instead.

The reason for watching Let’s Plays could be compared to sports in a sense. People love watching sports, which is also just people playing a game. Maybe it’s because you really want to see gameplay of something you can’t decide you want to buy or not. Maybe you just like having something playing in the background after a long day of work while you relax. Everyone has their own reasons for watching, but I know my reason for watching isn’t the game itself. It’s the people playing the game.

Today we tend to call people on YouTube personalities, and it’s those personalities that interest me. Most of the time I don’t care what the game even is, but it’s the person’s personality that pulls me in and keeps me coming to view their content. I’m not just watching gameplay, I’m having an experience with a person that I now care about. It brings back that couch co-op nostalgia feeling, and I can’t help but to embrace it.

Achievement Hunter interacting with fans

Those childhood days are back, and we love it. Earlier I talked about having friends over, experiencing games in a new way, and it’s the same here. If they’re playing a familiar game, you’ll notice things you didn’t before, or they’ll make a joke and now you’re in on it with a familiar group of people. Then there’s also that: the community. You’re not the only one watching this content. Many other people with similar interests too! You now have a chance to meet new people and make new friends all because you like watching someone on YouTube play video games!

Whatever your opinion on Let’s Plays might be, you can’t deny the fact that they’re popular and there’s a reason for it. These online personas are always there for you, and they’re only a few clicks away. They appreciate us for watching, and we appreciate them for making us laugh and putting a smile on our face. In the end, that’s all that matters.


Recommended Let’s Players

Over the past couple of years, I’ve come across many Let’s Players. Not all of them are great, but a few do deserve some recognition.

Game Grumps My favorite Let’s Players without a doubt are the Game Grumps. They consists of SIX different people that release up to THREE videos a day. Although their humor can be quite crude, I guarantee you you’ll have a great time.

Achievement Hunters Not only do they just do Let’s Plays, they also have a variety of other shows, such as VS, where one member of the group will challenge another to a game of their choice in order to win a multitude of ridiculous trophies. Their Let’s Plays can are usually around a half an hour, so they’re nice if you have a lot of time on your hands.

MarkiplierMarkiplier is a single Let’s Player that releases one video a day and plays a wide variety of interesting games. He’s funny, relatable, and is very connected with his audience. If you want to feel at home, this is the guy for you.

Just your average guy from a small town in the Midwest. I grew up watching and playing video games to the best of my ability. A bit of a Nintendo fan boy as well. My favorite game series without a doubt is The Legend of Zelda. IT'S SO GOOD.