A "Let's Play" is a lesser known phenomenon that has littered YouTube and Something Awful for years and it's become a pretty fun hobby for a lot of gamers. Essentially, a Let's Play is recording yourself play a game with either funny or informative commentary for the viewer.
Why would anyone want to watch someone else play a game? That is a good question. Usually people watch because of the funny commentary, though sometimes they watch to find out tricks to a game that they never discovered before.
Let's learn what we need to do it such a crazy thing!
How to Record
First you need to figure out if you CAN do a Let's Play. You will need some equipment if you are going to be playing a game on a console, likewise you will need some software if you are going to be playing your game on the PC.
Playing a console game you will need:
- A capture card. This is a device that plugs into your console and them into your computer and records your gameplay. Popular choices are the Pinnacle Dazzle or a HaupPauge.
- A good microphone
Playing a PC game you will need:
- Capture software. This is software that records what is going on on your screen. Popular ones are Camtasia or Fraps, some free options are Debut Video Software or Camstudi (but that has problems on Windows 7)
- A good microphone
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Choosing a Game
Once you have all the hardware and software for to do a Let's Play it is time to pick a game that you want to do a Let's Play of. Above all else, you want to pick a game that you actually want to play. A bored Let's Player is wanted to be watched by none.
You can either pick something you want to play or pick something you know a lot about. however, there are a lot of games that have been Let's Played to death. Like Final Fantasy or Minecraft. These will be difficult to make stand out among the other masses of Let's Plays.
If you are looking for viewers, it is best to do something that a lot of people have not done. Like maybe that obscure Playstation One game that you played a lot as a kid. You know the one.
Try to avoid games that are really repetitive or involve a lot of grinding. No one wants to watch you outside in Nibelhiem in Final Fantasy 7 killing those weird wolves for three hours. Sometimes you have to grind though, but just make sure you do it off screen.
Recording Your Game
You have your hardware or software for the console or PC set up now and it's time to record. I recommend doing some tests with your microphone before you start. If you record your voice and there is some noise in the background you may need to record audio separately with a program like Audacity. Audacity will allow you to remove that white noise that is cause by a poor microphone or something like loud computer fans.
Now it is time to record your introduction. This is something like "Hello, this is Username and today were are going to do a Let's Play of Game". It is best to talk a little bit about the game in the introduction. For example, tell who made it and when, why you love the game, etcetera.
A good Let's Play video should go no longer than 20 minutes. Some people cannot sit still for 45 minutes, let along sit still long enough to watch a 45 minute LP video.
Now here is a deciding point, you can either end your video with a conclusion, most Let's Players end with what they learned, or you can do no conclusion.
If you end with a conclusion, you will have to introduce yourself again in the next video. if you end with no conclusion you do not have to introduce yourself again. I personally enjoy no conclusion if I am Let's Playing by myself because it flows better. If you are Let's Playing with a group of people, it's best to just conclude and introduce every video.
Editting Your Video
This is the boring part. After you have recorded your first episode (or any episode), you need to make it a video. If you used something that allows you to record the game sound as well as your voice, you are pretty much ready to upload.
However, if you recorded your audio separately, you need to take the video footage and audio footage into Windows Movie Maker or some other video editing software. In Windows Movie Maker, just import the video and audio files and play them on the timeline view. Make sure the audio syncs up and export the video. Easy Peasy!
Upload your Video
Now it is time to get your video out there. Upload it to a site like Youtube and there you go. However, do not expect subscribers to just pour in by themselves. If you want people to watch your video the best thing you can do is go watch other Let's Plays and leave feedback.
Or you could join a message board for Let's Plays. The biggest community for Let's Plays is Something Awful, however you have to pay to read posts or make them so balls to that!. There are plenty of free Let's Play forums out there, though they are a bit smaller.
These places are good to get tips on your Let's Play as well.
Miscellaneous tips that the Let's Play Community dislikes
- Keep swearing to a minimum, it's okay and even funny to swear sometimes, but doing it every other word bothers people.
- Tone down the Sexiness. If your every other joke is about how someone wants to hop on your characters sexy parts, you may need some new material. It gets old after awhile.
- DO NOT ever record a Let's Play with a video camera. Let's Players are spoiled by their high quality recording software today.
- No singing. Unless you are the lead singer of All That Remains, dear god no singing.
- Try to avoid Blind Let's Plays on your first time. Blind LPs are difficult and the commentary is often filled with dead air as you try to figure out what is going on.
- Try to avoid dead air. There are those that hate people who talk during the cutscenes, but why are you watching a Let's Play if you do not want to hear commentary. Most people get bored just watching a game being played. Just say most of the stupid things that come into your head.
- No racism. It ain't coo' man. Not ever.
- Do your grinding off screen.
- Try to avoid talking about your personal life too much. A little is okay, but eventually it just takes away from the game.