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It’s Not Easy Being a Let’s Player

Playing video games for a living. I’m honestly not sure how well that would look on a resume, but here I am working towards that very goal … well, sort of. Unfortunately, there are a few major road blocks in my way, but first, let me explain what I really do.

Let’s Plays aren’t the only thing I create, and right now I’m not making a single cent from them. Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly putting together the necessary pieces for my own production company, Kartanym Productions (of which this very website was created for). My first piece of work wasn’t even a Let’s Play at all, but a web series about two people falling in love online … completely the opposite kind of audience, right?

I’ve written a lot of words, too. I’ve had articles published in Game Informer for a time, though I hesitate to say they were my best work. But I had to learn somehow, in order to better my own skills. Hence, I’ve graduated from Curtin University with an Honours Degree in Creative Writing, in order to really know where I stand.

Anyway, it’s been very difficult trying to balance the time between these projects and ‘normal work’ hours, plus finding the right content AND ensuring it finds an audience at the same time. I’ve toyed with various advertising ideas, websites, places like N4G and Reddit, to try and get the name out there. But in a massive sea of online users, it’s never a guarantee you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Let’s get to the second road block then. There are a lot of us out there (and I mean a LOT of us) who produce our own content every day of every week for … what, ten or twenty views per video at the most? Sometimes less, if we’re not lucky. That’s a hard act to push on with on a consistent basis, especially when it isn’t paying the bills or, in some cases, supporting families.

Sadly, I know a lot of gamers and readers alike who actually look down upon people who push Let’s Plays out there too. I’m sure that’s largely to do with the blanket coverage that’s stemmed from the success of RoosterTeeth et al and the explosion of interest in Twitch live streaming as well. Suddenly we’re inundated with people of various creeds and cultures wanting to put their own spin on a video game they love, and for many of you it can actually put you off. Or worse.

Sometimes the humour seems forced, or the player doesn’t really entice the audience. I know for a fact that my early videos were complete nonsense, due to the fact that I was out to learn not only the best way to put said videos together, but trying to find my own voice. Outside in the wide world, I’m largely an introvert. I’ve worked in customer service for a long time, mainly to improve my own communication skills if nothing else. It’s worked, for the most part, since now I can talk to anyone at any time without feeling uncomfortable or (worse) unwanted.

Keeping that in mind, I’m sure many people who Let’s Play find the same belief in making these videos. That putting your voice to a few minutes of your favourite game and letting the world see you, that takes guts. It’s a modern world full of bickering commentators and people who will just as quickly thumb you down or call you out on YouTube, forums, anywhere that a few clicks of a keyboard will allow. There’s no real sense of communication in that though, because it’s so damn easy to say what you want without feeling guilty for having said it.

I could say the same about what I’m writing right now, that it’s a pile of junk written by someone trying to find a purpose for what he wants in life, explaining to voiceless people he’ll never meet just for the sake of exposure. But I won’t. Why? Because this is the internet, the most free form of expression and opinion there has ever been, and whether I’m right or wrong about what I say … that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, does it?

Here’s my point. There’s more to it than just making a video about a game and commentating on it. There are repercussions across many fields. But if you take it within the same form as say, fan fiction? We’re just voicing and enjoying what we love in our own special way, that’s all. In my case, I love indie games, especially on mobile and tablet platforms. That’s my thing, and I’m sticking to it.

We may not be high quality actors, we may not have the best equipment, but we’re going to try. It’s like the early days of indie filmmaking, scrounging together whatever parts we can to create our own vision, no matter how bad or silly it might end up being. We still believe in it, and with time, we improve.

For those haters out there, take it easy yeah? Play what you want, when you want, but don’t take it out on anyone just because their opinion doesn’t match yours word for word. There will always be someone who disagrees, that’s nature.

And as for you Let’s Players? Keep playing, creating and enjoying what you do. But don’t go into this crazy streaming/playing world thinking you’re going to be the next big thing, raking in the millions. It doesn’t work that way, trust me. Just enjoy it for what it is, enjoy the opportunity you have in front of you.

Or as my own logo suggests … Play Nice, Play Now. For a majority of us, it’s all for fun anyway, and that’s what it should be. Whether any of this will get me anywhere? Who knows, but I’m happy to be along for the ride while I have the chance. So should you.

10 Comments on It’s Not Easy Being a Let’s Player

  1. Prof.mcstevie // January 21, 2015 at 2:50 pm // Reply

    I often dislike lets players who put on too much of an act, people can generally tell when something is unnatural so the whole thing just feels kind of awkward.

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    • I can understand that. That’s all part of the learning process, if they are willing. I know I have, mine were a little awkward at first. I’m improving with each video I do, largely because I’m just letting it flow.

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      • Prof.mcstevie // January 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm //

        I feel like any good points you might think of beforehand could be jotted down as a conversation piece when the on screen actions gets slow.

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      • True. I feel that’s where good editing can come in though, by removing some of the slower moments if needs be.

        I feel as if conversation pieces like that would be more beneficial once an audience is reached, building on the trust of an audience by replying to them, etc.

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      • Prof.mcstevie // January 21, 2015 at 3:06 pm //

        Well hell I started blogging about 2-ish months ago and I’ve always left some questions at the end of every blog for any potential readers, it just entices comments. I personally like having some sort of frame for anything worth saying.

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      • Oh I’ve done it before myself, don’t get me wrong. This particular piece was more view of my own life and less a question for the general audience. I have no doubt I’ll write further pieces that will entice more feedback and opinions. As it stands, this seems to have brought about some good conversations already which I’m pleased to see.

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      • Yep always talk about whats happening in the world or your life. Think of it like a podcast. I know plenty of people that listen to lets plays that don’t watch the videos.

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      • You know, I never thought about it like that, but that’s a very good point! Thank you.

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      • Prof.mcstevie // January 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm //

        Well depending on the game they couldn’t possibly do much more than anyone else, in a game where you are heavily restricted by the games rules you aren’t gonna have the most unique footage like say fighting games can have.

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      • On that note, I try to play games that no-one else does videos for in order to be at least a little unique, but the issue with that is bringing in an audience because of that game (there’s a few vids on my playlist right now sitting at less than 10 views each, for example). I realise as I grow my audience that it will improve and allow me to do more of those niche kinds of titles, but right now it’s a little restrictive as I try to build it up.

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