Vicarious play: Engaging the viewer in Let’s Play videos
Over the years, the Let’s Play (LP) video phenomenon has gathered an audience of millions on video platforms like YouTube. Unlike machinima, the video form which also uses play performances in digital games as its mode of production, the aim with LP videos is not to create stories. LPs simply show captured gameplay sessions, the primary entertainment coming from the added, often humorous commentary by the player through audio or a picture-in-picture frame showing the player in action. This article draws connections with work on early film to explore the particular experience LP videos offers its viewers. These connections include modes of engagement associated with the cinema of attraction, but the focus is on how some early films presented characters onscreen – diegetic stand-ins which put something on display for the spectator. It is argued that LP creators have a similar, though more play-oriented function. Through ludic immersion, LP videos offer non-ludic engagement for its viewers: an experience of vicarious play.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Utrecht University
Publication date: 01 January 2015
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