The power of voyeurism and let's plays

The power of voyeurism and let’s plays

The way media is consumed has always been in transition, however, what we conventionally considered the media, has been consistent in form. With modern texts such as Minecraft, there is a decision to be made as to what should be considered the overall text. Is to say ‘Minecraft’, to mean just the game, or should the popular culture around the game all reside under the same title as well, just as the console and mobile editions of the game are already. Furthermore the way this media consists and is consumed has also changed. Let’s Plays on YouTube are no longer gateway paratexts for key texts, they are key texts in their own right , they’re a way of distributing Minecraft cross-platform and for many, they are the only way to experience Minecraft. This isn’t just because people don’t have access to the game but rather many people simply prefer watching people play Minecraft to actually playing it themselves. This is possibly the most popular test that best exemplifies this but because it is so unique it’s not yet possible to conclude whether this is an anomaly or a suggestion of future transition.

The gaming industry has transitioned in an unstable yet significant way over the past forty years. Arcade gaming used to be an event, planned into the week, used as a social device for interaction with other people, and played in public. The advent of console gaming meant this changed, there was no need to leave the house, or plan when to play next, and so it became a lonely event. “Games got better but the gaming experience got worse” (PBS Game/Show, 2013). As network play became more popular the experience improved and then YouTube acts as a nostalgic replacement of the old world of gaming, a platform you go to with other people and where you can share your own gaming experiences, just like in arcades. One other important aspect as to why Let’s Play Minecraft videos are so important is the ‘vloggers’ themselves. The reason that it’s possible to have so many videos about the same text on YouTube and them still be successful is because each one is different, from how the game is played to how the presenter puts their own unique take on it.

An overview of what a Let’s Play is and why they are so popular? (PBS Game/Show, 2013)

The continuous development of contemporary platforms has set the foundations for new media to finally become mainstream. With more people using the platform as prosumers, it can only become more useful as it becomes more saturated. As established traditional channels and talents, such as BBC3 (BBC 2015) and Amazon’s The Grand Tour (Amazon 2016), take advantage of interactive platforms there has been a significant improvement and recognition of the possibilities offered by New Media. Some may fear that as mainstream media moves online, fan content well be shuffled out of the way; over the past couple years, many game makers have started releasing videos online, EA Sports and The Division are just two recent examples. But despite this increase in official producer videos, in January 2015, 96.6% of all gaming videos were fan made and for Minecraft that figure was was 99.9% (Newzoo, 2015), so fan video will play an important role for some time still.

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Jamie De Vivo

(15 Posts)

I'm a digital producer and fourth year student at The Media School at Bournemouth University. Summarising myself is a difficult task, so I'll just leave it to the blog. But my posts will focus on everything from web and app development to behavioural science. Specifically you'll also find my views and advice on cameras, editing, business, culture, mentality, my adventures and my DIY projects. Enjoy.
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