“Let’s Play”, sometimes called an LP, is a title given to playthroughs of video games that were originally posted on the Something Awful forum. The goal of these threads was to post screenshots or videos, or sometimes a combination of screenshots and videos, of your own playthrough of a specific video game along with your commentary. The player would sometimes allow the viewers to choose outcomes when dialogue options allow for it or to name the characters when the game allowed name changes – Japanese RPG naming features are heavily abused in some “Let’s Play” threads.
Eventually Something Awful’s game sub-board gave “Let’s Play” threads their own sub-sub-board. You must have a Something Awful account to read these threads, but you can find the same completed “Let’s Play” threads on the “Let’s Play” Archive. Because so many “Let’s Play” threads get started and never finish, and because the Something Awful forum has a bad habit of randomly losing messages as time progresses, some prefer to use the Archive just to browse already completed walkthroughs; all Something Awful “Let’s Play” threads are stored here, with the creator’s consent, no matter the quality.
The general idea is to be informative, often covering all the little secrets and Easter eggs scattered around the game – a walkthrough is a “Let‘s Play” in its most basic form, and those who are truly talented may mix in a bit of humor. In truth, many “Let’s Play” creators who never finish start one only to be funny and those are, traditionally, the most shunned, as people who try to be funny are usually not as funny as they think they are. Keep that in mind if you ever want to do your own “Let’s Play” on the Something Awful forum.
Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone watch it?
Playing video games with friends is a lot of fun. Playing with your snarky friend who loves everything but acts like he hates it all is even more fun. We’re not all lucky enough to have that snarky friend in real life though so a “Let’s Play” can fill in that void.
Beyond that, it’s sometimes just fun to watch a game that you love but don’t feel like playing or can’t play due to not having the system the game comes on, or to even watch a game you may not have the nerve to play – horror games may be especially popular because of this.
Even further beyond that, there are a number of “Let’s Play” threads that create an entirely new story using the video game setting and characters. What does that mean? Well, view “The Terrible Secret of Animal Crossing” by Chewbot, which you can see a few stills of above, to find out exactly what that means.