Let's Play, or LP, refers to a thread or video in which a person or group plays through a video game and chronicles their progress by posting videos, screenshots with accompanying text or a mixture of both. Let's plays are usually accompanied by the player's commentary, though sometimes the accompanying commentary can be a narrative from the main character's perspective. Unlike a game walkthrough, which explains how to complete a video game, a let's play commentary usually is more for comedic or entertainment purposes, though many are highly informative despite (or in addition to) this. Popular video hosts for Let's Plays include Blip.tv, Viddler, Baldurdash, YouTube and Twitch.
Let's plays as they are known now began on the Something Awful forums in 2006 when users created threads about the adventure game Oregon Trail in the Games subforum. These threads acted as the template for screenshot let's plays that followed, these being screenshots of the playthroughs accompanied by text. On January 19th, 2007, the first video LP was created by user slowbeef, a playthrough of Super Metroid for the SNES. Its formula proved popular and ended up changing the face of let's plays forever. In 2007, Something Awful gave the let's players their own sub-forum (example shown below). On February 2nd, 2007, the LP Archive was created by Something Awful user to preserve older let's plays from Something Awful.
Since its humble beginnings as a single thread in a forum, let's playing has become increasingly more popularized and eventually spread outside of Something Awful. After the initial spread outside of Something Awful, other sites with forums added their own let's play forums for users. There is also a forum devoted exclusively to let's plays, The Let's Play Forum, which gained about 2,000 members since its startup. Some individual let's players have also gained enough of a following to start their own forums and websites.
Let's plays eventually adapted with new video-hosting technology and sites from its forum-based format, primarily on YouTube and then later Twitch. One practice that arose as a result of some of these is Retsupurae, where another layer of commentary is added to the video, usually mocking the original let's player. The most well-known Retsupurae purveyor is the team of slowbeef and Diabetus, two veteran let's players from Something Awful. On February 28th, 2008, slowbeef and Diabetus uploaded their first Retsupurae video to their YouTube channel (seen below), receiving over 182,000 views in roughly 13 years.
The other main Retsupurae duo is ChipCheezum and General Ironicus, another pair of LP veterans from Something Awful who run the ChipCheezumSA YouTube channel.
Examples of completed SomethingAwful LPs
- Let's Play Metroid Prime (Archived)
- Let's Play Crimson Skies (SA, link via Wayback Machine)
- Let's Play Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Archived)
- Let's Play Lego Star Wars 2 (SA, link via Wayback Machine)
- Let's Play Saiyuki: Journey West (Archived, link via Wayback Machine)
- Let's Play Batman: Arkham Asylum (SA, link via Wayback Machine)
- Let's Play Spore (SA, link via Wayback Machine)
Notable SomethingAwful Let's Players
- Slowbeef is the head moderator of the Let's Play subforum on SomethingAwful. He is well-known for his part in bringing about the video LP, and his having started the first Retsupurae channel along with Diabetus. Much of the time, he is accompanied in his LPs by Diabetus, another veteran SA LPer.
- Diabetus is known for being the other half of the original Retsupurae duo, as well as his LPs of Battletoads and the Second Quest of Parallel Worlds.
- Pokecapn is a SomethingAwful goon who is most widely known for his Let's Play of the infamous Sonic 2006, spawning such memorable quotes as "It's a laser!" and "Sanford Kong's Parade of Barrels!" He has also Let's Played the Mario Party games, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and various assorted "Stupid Games Done For Money." He usually LPs alongside Kung-Fu Jesus, medibot, and MyNameIsKaz, though the Sonic '06 LP had IlluminatusVespucci and John Condit (a.k.a. NoTimeForSocks) instead of Kaz. pokecapn is currently reorganizing his YouTube account, putting all of his LPs on a separate channel.
Other notable Something Awful LPers include The Dark Id, ThornBrain (the unofficial leader of the "The Strawhat NO!" Let's Play group) and Psychedelic Eyeball.
Popular Let's Players on YouTube
Chuggaaconroy, a.k.a. Emile, also joined YouTube in 2006, but he didn't start his first LP, EarthBound, until 2008. Since then, Chuggaaconroy became the most subscribed Youtube Let's Player, with over 350,000 subscribers and over 290 million total video views by 2010. (He lost the title of most-subscribed YouTube LP'er sometime in 2011 or 2012.) Chuggaaconroy suffered the same fate as NintendoCapriSun when his account was closed by the same person who shut down NCS's. However, Chuggaaconroy also received support from other YouTubers until his account was also reactivated a month or so later. Chuggaaconroy has so far completed a total of 33 Let's Plays, and is currently working on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He is currently partnered with TheGameStation.
NintendoCapriSun, a.k.a. Timothy Bishop, joined YouTube in 2007. By 2010, NCS has gained over 150,000 subscribers and over 85 million total video views. Outside of his LPing, NCS is also a vlogger who posts videos on his other account, BreakingNCS.
In the summer of 2010, NintendoCapriSun had his account closed due to false DMCA claims. Accounts like SavingNCS (link via Wayback Machine) were created in support of NCS. After about a month, the NintendoCapriSun account was reactivated. NCS has completed over 80 projects, according to his page on TV Tropes, and is currently working on an LP of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He is currently partnered with TheGameStation.
ProtonJonSA joined Youtube in 2007. He gained fame through his various Super Mario World ROMhack reviews and in particular, Mario's Wacky World and Kaizo Mario World, a very hard Japanese-made SMW hack.
However, ProtonJon is known well for updating once in a blue moon, almost as well as he is known for the famous phrase "Move Faster Pokey!!!" from one of his Kaizo videos. In his years on YouTube after Something Awful, from which the "SA" in his name is taken, ProtonJon has gained over 95,000 subscribers and over 24 million total video views. It is unknown how many LP's Jon has completed, though it is estimated around 8, not counting ROMhacks, other than Mario's Wacky World. He is much more active on TheRunawayGuys. His current solo projects are Superman 64 (which will be updated whenever a new part is ready), "Project Sweet Bike" (which is likely to be an LP of Jet Set Radio Future), and Star Fox 2. He is currently partnered by Machinima.
SlimKirby, a.k.a. Rob, joined YouTube in 2006. Slim started his account by posting Super Smash Brothers Brawl custom stage reviews and Mario Kart Wifi races until he posted his first LP, Donkey Kong 64_. Since that LP, SlimKirby has gained fame from his Simpsons Hit and Run_ Let's Play and Mario Party Board Playthroughs. SlimKirby has gained over 70,000 subscribers and over 33 million total upload views. He also has his own website. It is unknown how many LP's Slim has completed, though it is estimated to be over 100. He is currently working on Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy. He is currently partnered with TheGameStation.
JoshJepson made his YouTube account on January 3rd, 2008. As of late 2011, he has over 45,000 subscribers and over 6 million total views. He began his first solo LP of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on December 9th, 2009. He was previously involved with a Let's Playing group known as "FriendCodesSuck", which unfortunately died. On his JoshJepson account, he has completed 20 projects. He is currently working on Fallout 3 and Super Mario Galaxy. He is currently partnered with TheGameStation.
Other notable Let's Players include PewDiePie, ClementJ642, and Electrical Beast.
Let's Play Groups
It is useful to note that many people are a part of the LP community, though these three are those who associate with the name most. Chuggaaconroy, NintendoCapriSun, and ProtonJon are the producers of a YouTube channel dubbed "TheRunawayGuys", likely spawning from the group of singers in EarthBound, the Runaway Five. They have had LP'er JoshJepson as a guest for their second LP, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and their eighth LP, New Super Mario Bros U, Lucahjin as a guest player for their sixth LP, Little Big Planet, and their sixteenth LP, Little Big Planet 2, SuperJeenius as a guest player for their ninth LP, Castle Crashers, MasaeAnela as a guest player for their seventeenth LP, Super Mario 3D World, StephenPlays as a guest player for their twenty-second LP, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, and Tom Fawkes as a guest player for their twenty-third LP, Rayman Legends. This group channel has a total of over 90,000 subscribers and 15.5 million total views. So far, they have completed 24 LP's – Mario Party 1, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Party 2, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Little Big Planet, Wii Party, New Super Mario Bros. U, Castle Crashers, Mario Party 3, Wario Ware Inc. – Mega Microgames, New Super Luigi U, Dokapon Kingdom, Mario Party 4, Rayman Origins, Little Big Planet 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Sonic Adventure, Mario Party 5, Kirby's Dream Course, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Rayman Legends, and Super Metroid. They are currently between projects.