Polly's Eleven Commandments of Let's Playing
(From A Let's Play Viewer's Point of View)
by Polly

Alright SMPS, I have a confession to make...

I got a nasty habit. I like to watch....

...people play videogames on the internet and talk over them.

I'm not really sure why this "hot new trend" is so engrossing for me. I mean...the very concept of watching somebody else play a videogame and talk about it sounds like the most boring thing ever. Surely, there's something better one could do with their time, but for some dumb reason, I find endless entertainment in these stupid things sometimes. I've even hosted a Let's Play-themed competition over on the forums, so I feel that my last few years of experience in viewing Let's Plays has given me a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a GOOD Let's Player. Note that I didn't say "popular", I said, GOOD.

What follows are 11 pieces of information I believe that all Let's Players can benefit from. From the seasoned vets that frequent our forums to the new guy that just decided he wants to play Mega Man 2 for the internet and talk about it for the first time. These may only be my opinions, but I feel strongly that there are many who will agree with me that a lot of these "Commandments" could be considered "common sense" when it comes to creating a good Let's Play and being a decent Let's Player

Let's get started, shall we?

Commandment The First
It's BOOOOOORING watching someone repeat the same 2-10 second task over and over again while continuously failing. The "Walk of Shame" back to where you failed is a lot funnier, especially if you can actually react and be funny about it. Oftentimes, repeated failure can be VERY funny.

This same rule should also make it obvious that you avoid trying to Let's Play dumb garbage like Kaizo Super Mario World or other awful hacks created by people who have no real sense of level design.

Commandment Exception: Using save states to save your progress between videos is fine.

Commandment The Second
Be Yourself
Look, it's obvious you got into this thing because somebody inspired you to do so, and an homage or casual name drop every now and then is great, but don't go stealing someone else's shtick. You're not NintendoCapriSun, Chugga Conroy, or anybody else that somehow managed a gigantic fluke and ended up with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and you certainly won't win anybody over trying to act like them.

Commandment The Third
Play Something You Like Or Are Familiar With
Know what nobody wants to hear? Someone on the internet droning on and on about a game they hate or pretending that they're SO ANGRY NINTENDO NERD MAD that they have to play it. You're supposed to be doing this for fun, so why would you want to spend all this time recording gameplay and commentary, then editing all that together for something you hate?

Commandment Exception: Blind runs can be fun if done properly.

Commandment The Fourth
Show, Don't Tell
Do you go to a movie and want someone outside the theater beforehand to tell you everything that happens in the movie before you see it? Probably not.

A common practice among post-commentary LP'ers is that you talk too much about things that haven't happened yet. You're spoiling the surprise. Post-commentary should be giving the viewer a play-by-play call of what's happening on screen along with their witty banter or faking REALLY well that they're doing it live. Telling the viewer something great is coming up and then ruining it minutes before it even happens diminishes the impact and in some cases, just makes me stop watching entirely.

Commandment The Fifth
Don't EVER Quote Family Guy, Futurama, or The Simpsons
Seriously. Just don't.

Commandment The Sixth
Don't Beg or Whine For Subscribers
It's fine to plug your channel at forums when appropriate, drop a link in a sig somewhere, or share it all over your Twitterbox/MyBooks/FacePlaces or whatever. You can get your channel out there in better ways than...plugging it on your own channel.

Keep it out of your videos. People are watching your video and are gonna make their decision pretty quickly on whether to subscribe to you or not. You mentioning it will either make them not want to out of spite or they'll just ignore your plea altogether.

Commandment The Seventh
Don't Ask Stupid Questions
Why can't Simon Belmont swim?
Why do rings keep Sonic alive?
Why do coins give Mario air?

There's one simple answer to these and ALL questions you may have about videogame mechanics that don't quite match the logic of the real world:


Now you don't ever have to ask why Dr. Wily has power-ups for Mega Man hidden all over his castle EVER AGAIN!

Commandment The Eighth
Videocamera Let's Plays = NO!

Commandment The Ninth
Always Be Talking
Dead air is a no-go. Commentary is a big reason why most of us watch Let's Plays. We've probably played all the games you want to Let's Play 100 times before, so just the gameplay isn't going to cut it. Be informative, be witty, be funny, be spontaneous, be you. Just don't be silent.

Oftentimes, the best LP'ers are the ones that can off-the-cuff commentary really well, they don't even have to talk about the game a lot of the time. There's lots of things you can fill the air with other than the sound of you breathing or, "I don't have anything to say about this part really." If you don't have anything to say, hang it up and record some other time.

Commandment The Tenth
You Are Not A Voice Actor
Look, we can read. Viewers don't need you reading text boxes on the screen that are right there in front of them, and this is especially true if the game is either popular enough for lots of people to have already played it or if the game already has voice acting.

You're (probably) not a voice actor. The voices you're giving these characters aren't funny. They're annoying. Either fill dialog scenes with commentary about what's going on, continue your off-topic witty banter, or thumb through the scene as fast as you can.

Commandment The Eleventh: The Most Important One
Have. Fun.
Lemme level with you here a little bit, champ. Let's Playing is saturated to hell and back. Everybody and their dog is playing videogames for people online and talking about them. So, before you get into this thinking you're going to be the next big YouTube Mega Star, maybe you should reconsider why you're even doing it.

The chances of you making it "big" are pretty damn slim. If you manage to pull even 50 subscribers, you should probably feel pretty accomplished for managing to stand out enough in 50 peoples' minds for them to want to stay updated with you. If success happens, it happens, if not (and it probably won't) and that really bothers you, then stop Let's Playing.

You gotta do things because they're fun for you, not because you need validation from others. People will find you. It may take a while, but your videos will be seen. If you can't be happy unless you meet some magic number of subscribers or views per video, you're doing this for the wrong reasons.

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