I make Let’s Plays for games i like and I upload them to YouTube. I’m not brilliant at it, I do not have a lot lot of subscribers, and my videos do not get a lot of views, but it is something I do because I enjoy it as a hobby, and small collection of subscribers seem to enjoy it too.
Now, I’ve been following TB for quite some time now, since 2008 or so. At the time I wasn’t able to actively play WoW and randomly stumbled across his weekly talk radio show / podcast, which provided me with an alternative to actual game. I found the podcast to be entertaining, funny, and insightful. I found his opinions on the subject of WoW to be pretty much spot on, even if his criticism was aimed directly at the class of my own, or my particular play style – when I did play.
I continued to follow him from WCW radio, to YouTube, Twitter, Cynical Brit, and general mainstream gaming success. Something that should be congratulated.. the boy’s done well.
Yes.. I’m setting this up for a fall.
Quality over Quantity
Since TB started in earnest with putting content on to YouTube he has always claimed his content was technically superior to practically every other video game content on the site. What this actually means is..
He had a decent mic
He didn’t render from Vegas or Premier with frame interpolation on
Now, technically, these things aren’t difficult. Whilst I agree, there are an awful lot of gameplay channels on YouTube that get both of these things wrong (the yogscast still can’t render content consistently or properly for example), he was far from the only person getting them right. I have a history of video production, so knew that it wasn’t so hard to get the quality he boasted.
It went further though. As his channel became more popular he started getting requests for Let’s Plays from his fans. He started to become vocal about the fact he didn’t do Let’s Plays, despite doing several for games like Terraria, and Magicka.
Now, if he chooses to do them or not is not my concern. it’s his choice, and I’d be an idiot to criticise someone for that. No, what I want to look at is his growing disdain for the Let’s Play genre in late 2011, which had gotten to the point where he would openly trash-talk anyone that bothered to create one outside of himself, Yogscast, and Jesse Cox.
He worded this several times as it being lazy content, put out by lazy people. Or lazy idiots. Yes, the entire Let’s Play genre, was made by lazy idiots!
At this point it’s probably worth looking at Totalbiscuit’s choice to create a series of gameplay videos called “WTF is…” which could be considered exactly the same as most first episodes of Let’s Plays created by other people.
Except Totalbiscuit perceived a single video consisting of 20-30 minutes footage of a game to be harder work to produce than a full Let’s Play series. Totalbiscuit – make a good 100+ episode Let’s Play and THEN tell me which is harder and requires more work..
Towards the end of 2011 his increasing hostility to the genre became too much.. we had this exchange on twitter.
I stand by my comment here. “WTF is..” is exactly as i describe it here, edited gameplay footage with voice over. Sometimes he wont even play the game himself.. which one is lazy again?
Now, i received a response from Totalbiscuit, which unfortunately he has chosen to delete, or twitter is preventing me from seeing it. (If anyone can find a way to show his tweets from December 13th 2011 that would be most useful). Needless to say, he wasn’t over the moon with being called out on this, to which i responded with
Which just made matters worse, to be honest. He threw a number of insults my way including calling me a “cunt” – which is fine, if he doesn’t make responses like this to people..
I suspect it wasn’t the word “cocky” that he found offensive.
July 4th 2012
Anyway, I digress. I still follow Totalbiscuit on YouTube, although I don’t watch his content as much as I used to – not because he called me a cunt, but rather because his bigoted preaching can get tiresome and repetitive after a time. I also find the sycophantic attitude of most of his YouTube fans to be irksome to say the least (let alone in direct conflict with what was asked of from the listeners of the older WCW podcasts) Ultimately, his videos often provoke reaction and debate, and you can’t do that on YouTube without childish xeno/homophobic remarks being thrown around.
However, his July 4th Independence Day video had more bashing at Let’s Plays, and it’s that which I feel needs addressing..
LP or not to LP
For me a Let’s Play should address one of the following areas to be considered good.
Entertaining Game – The game is the most important factor to you – perhaps you are unable to play the game yourself, or want to see if it is a game you would like before purchasing. The game is more important than the person providing the voice track. The Let’s Play site gameanyone.com, or LParchive would be good examples here.
In each camp there are many many channels doing really good quality work – both technically, and from an entertainment or informative perspective.
Instead of focusing on a great many people doing good work Totalbiscuit prefers to focus his cynicism and anger on those that are not, and as an example points out the sheer amount of Let’s Plays of a free web game called Happy Wheels. Now, Happy Wheels is a fun game, it’s easily accessible, and it’s quirky nature and limitless user-created content makes it a great game for people to focus on.
More than that though, from the Let’s Plays of this game that I’ve seen the popular videos almost always fall in to category #1 – Entertaining Players – It’s more about the people playing, and their reactions than it is the game.
You’ll never get the same two reactions from two people with that game, and that’s what makes it so popular on YouTube.
For example, many Let’s Plays of this game have clocked up multi-million views. Yogscast Sips, for example, on a 2 day old video has over 100,000 views on his Happy Wheels Let’s Play. A channel 1/6th the size doing a ‘garbage no-effort’ Let’s Play of a game that’s been done to death, getting more views Totalbiscuit has gotten on ‘quality’ content.
Is this the root of the frustration?
Badly made, or badly played Let’s Plays do not prosper. Focusing on these as your entire public opinion of the genre is simply counter productive – especially when some of your YouTube friends have channels purely based around producing Let’s Plays.
Totalbiscuit has a great channel on YouTube, with great content. I understand some of the frequent requests from people there must become tiresome, but it’s better to keep reiterating you do not do Let’s Plays, then don’t do them, and move on.