Creativity in Let’s Plays

Is there such a thing as too much?

I’ve been recording Let’s Plays for around seven years, now (sporadically, but semi-consistently!). A good friend of mine put together a montage of clips from one of my oldest playthroughs: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. This was way back in 2009, back when I didn’t wear my glasses because I was afraid they made me look too geeky. It was a lifetime ago, and watching it again (or at least, watching the montage) was like watching it for the first time.

Watching it made me realize, though, that I got a lot more creative with my Let’s Plays back in the day. There were several interesting, almost skit-like gags included in the MK:M playthrough. I played some music and zoomed in on Sub-Zero as I made him “dance”. I started up Resident Evil 2 instead of MK:M just for laughs. I recorded the first part of a level with the camera facing the wrong way, just to see how people would react. I had forgotten about these moments, so seeing them surprised me a bit. I did some wacky, silly things with the MK:M Let’s Play, and I’m glad I did them, but is that the kind of thing I should try to regularly do? Should I bring back the wacky gags of old and try to be more creative with my LPs?

During my incomplete playthrough of Deadly Premonition I made the decision to cut out the driving scenes. The driving scenes took a long time to complete, and York spent most of the time talking. As such, I would have to go a long time without making commentary, and I was afraid these moments would make the viewers bored. As such, I tried to come up with dumb little things to film myself doing in place of the driving scenes. At the time this seemed like a genius idea, but looking back now I wish I hadn’t done them. I feel like I was focusing too much on myself and not enough on the game. York’s driving commentary was funny, and people told me so in the comments. For some reason the thought of me shutting my mouth for two minutes was just unthinkable!

As such, we come across the Let’s Player’s Dilemma. How much of us is too much? When does it go from, “Haha, that was funny,” to, “Can you just play the game, please?!” Doing weird, wacky things can help you stand out and make your playthrough interesting, but it’s easy to become overbearing and turn people away. I don’t want people to get tired of my antics, but at the same time I enjoyed doing that wacky stuff and I feel like the MK:M playthrough actually benefitted from it.

I suppose it’s because the MK:M antics didn’t take too much away from the game, while the Deadly Premonition clips actively replaced sections of the gameplay. At the same time, though, even editing and antics that gel with the gameplay can get a bit overbearing if used too much, I feel. I’ve always felt that gameplay moments and the LPer’s reactions to them are plenty funny, and too much editing can sort of subtract from that. Playing a clip in slow motion can be hilarious at times, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like any more than that can become a bit… intrusive? It’s hard to explain, but it’s why I don’t like to do much editing on my videos these days. I try my best to keep it simple and down-to-Earth – I’m not an entertainer, and I only do this as a hobby, so I try to let the game and my reactions to it speak for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, wacky LP compilations with zany editing certainly work – the average PewDiePie or Markiplier compilation gets millions upon millions of views! – but it’s sort of a personal feeling that, even without the picture pop-ups or the wacky editing, these clips would still be funny, and if anything I’m kind of distracted from the genuine hilarity of a Let’s Player’s reaction when there’s a ton of editing in my face!

I don’t know. I suppose it’s just a personal feeling of mine that’s going to affect my LPs in the long run. I’ll try to stay away from intrusive clips or editing, and try to let the game speak for itself. I’m not trying to say my way is “right” or that you shouldn’t go crazy with editing when you feel like it (people clearly put a lot of time and energy into some of their LP editing, which I find quite admirable), but in my constant fight to be as non-intrusive as possible, I’ll probably stay away from the more “creative” gags like the ones in the MK:M playthrough. I might do one or two on occasion, though, for old time’s sake. Everything I do is for old time’s sake, these days. Didn’t Bruce Springsteen write a song about that?

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