May 19th 2022
This is a topic thats been on my mind various times, but I never feel like I have the right space to just ramble about it- mostly because it often brings up a group of people that many talk negatively of... but this is my blog and I get to ramble about the niche type of let play content!
So theres been more talk about this in general but its been heavily associated with one group- Dream SMP. What I am talking about is like... this specific category of video games Let's Plays where the players are generally in some form role playing. Whether its them playing a character with a name, or morphing their existing self into a separate “character”. It was strange seeing people talk about this with Dream SMP but quickly see a lot of negativity around DSMP, not because I like them (I don't) but because I realized these guys were doing what some minecraft guys I watched years ago did! Made me sad at first to think this “genre” was making a return but was having negativity associated with it due to some stupid people. But that's not what I want to talk about- not DSMP or its hate, but rather the concept of these kinds of videos.
I won't go one forever about what I watched because this isn't a blog about that fandom, but the ones I watched long ago (2012-2015) was Mindcrack and eventually Lords of Minecraft/Buffalo Wizards. Now, Mindcrack wasn't an outright RP series, but it was a SMP just not the way people think of SMP now. They did light RP in specific settings (B-Team plot was a good example of it) but otherwise it was normal. LOM however was where it got more role play-centric, as that was the point of the server (it was an open server, players who joined were peasants of the kingdom while the youtubers were the Lords in charge). But... LOM still had this feeling that you were just watching the youtubers. They played characters, but they were also kind of just play themselves... thats the part that gets me about this kind of content- there's often times only a vague separation between the character and the player, probably because they are presenting on YouTube with the same voice and all. I hadn't realized people were doing this once more, with these new “SMP” series popping up (had no idea what SMP meant because no one used that term when I watched Mindcrack lol). I had been further reminded of it when I got into Half-life and was being made aware of a thing called HLVRAI, which I had no idea anything about- and while I hadn't watched it, I could see from skimming around it also partially fit the bill of that type of series- people fucking around and it (intentionally or accidentally) turns into a partial role play series with your friends.
Its brought lots of thoughts back about LOM and Mindcrack, and in turn the concept of roleplaying in video game Let's Plays, because I think a lot of people don't really recognize a lot of it is RP. I mean, its not that they think they're all just being Normal. They know its a story, but no one seems to label this as RP even though thats what it is, and I think it would also do some good to talk about it like that too... It is tricky, when the similarities between player and character become vague though, as its what leads to all the controversy surrounding fan fiction, shipping, etc. It hadn't occurred to much to me before, as I will be the first to admit I had written fan fiction and such for LOM myself... but LOM had a much more clearly defined separation between characters and players due to its concept- unlike most SMP stuff where the player and character are just the same guy in every where, minus the story they play out with others.
But, I am not here to figure out the rights or wrongs of that right now. Really, seeing this resurgence of sorts is kind of cool? Seeing random people come together to tell their fun drama filled stories in video games (minecraft or otherwise) is neat, I think its a kind of creativity that's important to show people because there was a time where I felt like it was interested as Cringe. Role play and Improv are both fun things I love watching and it is making me curious what other things are out there that are like this- mostly non-minecraft things. I am typing this on my personal blog bc I feel weird admitting its something I have always wanted to do. The earliest form of RP I saw in a game from youtubers was... Uh, uberhaxornova I think? He did a minecraft Walking Dead series with some guy and they basically RPed the characters. I didn't even watch the show I just thought it was neat. So I have always had interest in this style of Let's Play, where theres some kind of casual RP happening.
I have intentions to get more into making YT videos, but I have like... no one to fulfill this idea with right now lol. I love role play, really. It seems the less people call it RP, the more people actually just think its cool and normal, and not cringey... with all these new series popping up with players being characters of sorts, its interesting to see it becoming a more common type of series to do.
Do you watch people who do this kind of stuff (and its not DSMP)? I'd be curious to know. I haven't watched anyone who does it since I watched LOM, so it has been quite a while... Wouldn't mind exploring the scene as it is now.