Let's Play (video gaming)
A Let's Play is a series of screenshots or a recorded video documenting a playthrough of a video game, usually including commentary by the gamer. An LP differs from a walkthrough or strategy guide by focusing on an individual's subjective experience with the game, often with humorous, irreverent, or even critical commentary from the gamer, rather than being an objective source of information on how to progress through the game.
This original process is known as a "Screenshot LP", and first appeared on the Something Awful website in 2006 with a screenshot playthrough of The Oregon Trail. A year later, another Something Awful user, Slowbeef, created the earliest video LP's on the video game The Immortal and then Super Metroid. They differentiated it from the "Video LP" form which later emerged, that involves recording "playthroughs" of games with a video capture device or screen recording software while offering an audio commentary and uploading the result to a video-sharing website, the most popular being YouTube. Most Let's Play videos are presented with minimal editing, providing the raw response to the game as it is played.
Some of the more popular gamers that create these videos have become Internet celebrities and seen as a type of "professional fan", according to Maker Studios' Dar Nothaft; other gamers turn in to these videos as to get a different perspective on games than professional review sources. PewDiePie has monetized his "Let's Play" videos which reach over 22 million subscribers, one of the highest for this type of channel on YouTube. Some other people or groups include Rooster Teeth, The Yogscast, Smosh Games, Game Grumps, NerdCubed and Machinima.com.
Let's Play videos have been considered a favorable way to market game titles, in particularly for smaller developers. In one case for Thomas Was Alone, Mike Bithell, its developer, attributed the success of the game to a Let's Play video by Dan Hardcastle. Similarly, Davey Wreden, the developer of The Stanley Parable developed a relationship with various Let's Play channels prior to the release to assure they could play and record his game; his team further created specialized demos for two popular channels that jokingly teased the specific players. Wreden believes this helped lead to the over 100,000 sales of the full game within the first three days of release.
The copyright nature of "Let's Play" videos remains in question; while the developer and/or publisher of games typically possess the copyright and granted exclusive distribution rights on the media assets of the game, others cite fair use claims for these works as their nature is to provide commentary on the video game. In one case, Nintendo claimed that they retain the copyright and have registered the content through YouTube's Content ID system such that they can generate ad revenue from user videos. Smaller developers have been more open to allowing Let's Play videos. Ubisoft has stated that it allows its games to be used in Let's Play videos and allows for those making them to monetize from any ad revenue as long they stay within certain content-appropriateness guidelines.
In early December 2013, a change in YouTube's ContentID policy caused many existing Let's Play and other video-game related material to be blocked. In response, many developers and publishers issued statements and worked with YouTube to assure such videos were not meant to be blocked, helping those whose videos were affected, and encouraging users to continue to show these; these companies included Blizzard, Ubisoft, Capcom, Paradox Interactive, and Valve. YouTube later clarified that the change in the ContentID system that caused videos to be flagged was likely a result of new tools it made available for multi-channel networks, which can cover separate video and audio copyrights. At least two known music multi-channel networks, TuneCore and INDmusic, who represent many video game music composers and artists, had automatically enabled the copyright protection for all of its clients without seeking their input, and as such, many of the Let's Play videos as well as the game developers' own promotional videos were blocked due to these actions. YouTube states they do not plan to change this system despite complaints from the original music composers.
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