A constructive use of technology

For life-long gamers, there were times in our youth when we were hopeless but to enlist the help of others, whether we ever wanted to get past the Hammer Bros. in World 1-3 or simply wanted to see Mega Man leap around a utopian landscape without having to press the buttons that made him go. In time, most of us probably grew away from this notion, but the inherent appeal never diminished. That is: it can be quite fun, too, to watch someone else play.

Fortunately, we’ll never need another reminder, thanks to Let’s Plays, a fan-made phenomenon from out of the boards at SomethingAwful.com — and a welcome contribution to gaming culture.

[[image:nn_080912_leovinus_01.gif:Also,”Kiros! Hi! What the hell are you wearing?”:right:0]]The anatomy is simple: one person plays a game, taking screenshots along the way, and then presents them with witty running commentary. It’s so simple, in fact, it was being done long before it was standardized; Slow Beef’s “strategy guide” for Metal Gear 2, written mostly in 2004, remains one of the best examples of the format. But one significant advantage of the modern LP is the message board setting, where its audience can offer feedback and even steer the course of the game.

In many cases, it’s long-form MSTing at its finest; thanks to the efforts of Leovinus, for example, I’ll never have to suffer Final Fantasy VIII in non-annotated form again. Some are more affectionate, educating the populace on lost gems dear to their hearts. Others even take games with no narrative to speak of and give them one.

Since LPs have gained visibility outside of SA, other communities have continued to nurture them. Even our own Talking Time has an ever-expanding forum dedicated to the things. So if you’re still oblivious, let’s play, already!

12 thoughts on “A constructive use of technology

  1. I enjoy these way more than I would’ve thought. A friend of mine said “You know, playing games is a waste of time, but we’re WATCHING some stranger play them. That’s so much worse.”

    But I’ve always enjoyed seeing people play through particular parts in games that resonated with me, and seeing how they experience it for the fist time.

    I also enjoying seeing movies with people for this same reason. It’s more fun to watch their reactions than to watch the game or movie, itself.

    Dare we hope for some Kishi LP’s in the future?

  2. I am hoping that the company that produces Game Center CX feels the same way and brings that show to the U.S.

    Furthermore, I hope the U.S. takes to it, so the series will be brought over in its entirety.

    The series, and Let’s Plays in general, could serve as a way to bridge the gap between gamers’ and non-gamers’ perception. Even if a person has never played a video game, they can understand the mindset of a gamer and the strategy behind the gameplay. It’s a pie in the sky ideal though. It’ll be a miracle if Game Center CX comes to the U.S. at all.

  3. Recently, I’ve found myself spending more time watching other dudes play games than I have actually playing any myself. It’s sad.

  4. I can see the interest for some people, but I’ve personally never been able to stick with one of these past the first couple pages. If it’s a game I haven’t played, I don’t want it spoiled. If I have played it, or don’t intend to, this can be a good way to reminisce or gain some knowledge, but I ultimately feel like my time is better spent playing games myself.

  5. I watched tons of great PC games in college, since one of my suitemates was a PC gamer (I’m console/Mac myself). Master of Orion, Star Control 2, Master of Magic, and a bunch of others I barely remember the names of. Fun stuff, and I got to see the stories without having to micro-manage my way through the actual games.

    Speaking of which, what happened to the TT SC2 LP? I was looking forward to that one.

  6. This is the best LP I have seen by far:

    1. The game chosen is semi-rare, interesting, unique and most importantly absolutely horrible to play. Watching somebody else play it leaves you free to appreciate its aesthetics and innovations without the distraction of how damn painful it is.

    2. “Egomaniac” (a misnomer if I’ve ever seen one) has chosen to sit back and let the game itself be the star of the LP, instead of going down the usual route of forced comedy and gimmick “conditions”. His commentary is unintrusive and focuses on highlighting aspects of the gameplay and details of the game world, rather than informing the Internet of what a fun guy he is.

    3. He actually knows the game inside-out. It’s very frustrating to see a game you like LP’d by somebody who misses secrets, uses suboptimal tactics or in some cases can’t even work the basic game mechanics and blames the game itself for his own shortcomings (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B2A1D7B34F7BBDA3 – check out how he fumbles around in White Tower).

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