A “Let’s Play” is a type of YouTube video where you watch someone play through a video game, foregrounded with their commentary. I know that might sound totally awful to some of you, but it actually serves a pretty specific purpose.
Civilization 5, for example, is one of my favorite video games of all time. It’s the perfect long-form strategy game, and I will probably be playing it (or, you know, Civilization 6, 7, 8, whatever) until the day I die. However, there are certain moments where I want to play Civilization but I don’t want to make any heady decisions about tech trees or production speed, and in those moments I might turn on a Let’s Play to get that fix in a more relaxing, less intensive way.
And I’m not alone. There are a ton of Let’s Players on YouTube, which means the library of games available to watch grows every day. That also means we’re living in an era where some of the most random, ultra-specific subjects are getting exhaustive coverage from a very dedicated, content-hungry community. Here, look:
1) Hour of Victory
I was pretty sure I was the only person in the universe who remembered Hour of Victory. It was released in 2007 by Midway and was sort of the tipping point for brown, brain-dead World War II shooters. It could have succeeded, but it got wrecked with bad reviews—mostly for having the audacity of an openly cynical game design. Still, somehow, if you type “Hour of Victory let’s play” you’ll find stuff like this:
To be fair, both of these gamers embrace the idea that they’re playing one of the most poorly received titles of all time, but I’m not sure if we need to elaborate on Hour of Victory. It’s not even bad in a particularly interesting way! Like, go play Big Rigs. Now that is a bad game with some pizazz.
2) Hearts of Iron 3
This is what Hearts of Iron 3 looks like.
No, seriously, that’s the whole game.
Now here’s somebody playing like, a combined 20 hours of Hearts of Iron 3 across several videos.
This is the stodgiest, most hardcore World War II sim you’ll ever see in your life. Every minor little facet of the campaign is under your control, and as such you can only see the action through a super macro lens. It’s the sort of game that you’d need to spent a month with to even scratch the surface, so there is something kinda poetic in watching someone navigate all these systems like a second language. Sure, it might leave you mystified, but it’s also fun to think: “Holy shit, some people know how to play these games!”
3) King’s Quest
Do you want to watch a video of a man reading all the dialogue from the pioneering 1984 adventure game King’s Quest aloud?
I mean, seriously, do you?
The funny thing about watching this Let’s Play is that our boy jestermx6gaming has clearly finished King’s Quest dozens of times. He clears the whole game out in an hour! We’re talking about a game that will brutally destroy your progress if you happen to run into the witch too early. It’s good to know that all of your weeks of childhood toil can come to seem wildly inadequate with just a few clicks.
I think this is the most perfect Let’s Play in the canon.
Let’s run down the facts:
- 57 views.
- Terrible audio featuring some jag-off friend who’s clearly piping in his thoughts from an ancient Xbox 360 microphone.
- The subject is fucking Carcassonne. Like, the board game—Carcassonne. Something nobody has ever wanted to watch in any academic way, ever.
- The title of the video is “My First Let’s Play!”
Bless you, YouTube. May your servers never run dry of all the inessential stuff that makes you great.
Photo via jestermx6gaming/YouTube