by Kevin Scrima
A “Let’s Play” is a video of a gamer playing a video game, typically with a small screen of the gamer’s face in the corner. Check it out!
Pretty meta, huh?
Yes, people love watching people play video games!
Fact: The number-one YouTuber (PewDiePie) makes millions of dollars off ads and sponsors each year by entertaining others and being funny on “Let’s Play” videos.
If you love playing video games and want to share that passion with others, here is how to make your own “Let’s Play” videos.
- Figure Out Your Endgame BEFORE The Start of Your Game
Do you want to make a “Let’s Play” because: A) you love video games? B) you want money? C) you want fans and subscribers to your videos to branch off to other kinds of videos? or D) all of the above? You can’t predict if you’ll make money, and that’s a short-term motivator anyway, so playing to amuse your viewers is probably the best reason.
- Equip Yourself With Gear That Has The Best Stats
To make a professional and successful “Let’s Play,” you unfortunately need the best equipment, which can be quite expensive.
You need a computer for recording; a device for gaming, be it a P.C. or a gaming console like an Xbox One ($399-$499); a video game ($30-$59.99); a “Game Capture” card ($100-$160); a headset ($30-$100); and a microphone ($50-$200). If you don’t have any of this equipment, buying it all can total anywhere from $600 – $1,500, depending on the quality of the devices that you are buying.
Computers: To make videos that don’t have choppy video or audio, you need a high-quality computer. If you want the best of the best, buy a “Razer Blade” laptop, but these cost over $2,000 (other gaming computers cost around $1,000.) You basically need a computer that has a good processor, like an i6 or an i7 (so your computer doesn’t use a lot of C.P.U when it’s capturing your gameplay—typically you want the computer to be using less than sixty percent of C.P.U when it’s recording your game).
Consoles and Video Games: The more consoles you own, the more video games you can play, and the more video games you own, the more videos you can make, and since each console and video game has its own audience, you can reach a broader audience by playing as many different consoles and video games you can. But play only the ones you are the best at and passionate about. If you are good at shooters, play shooters. If you are good at side-scrolling games, then play those.
Game Capture Card: This is the device that records the actual gameplay on the screen. Highly recommended is the Elgato Game Capture HD 60, which costs $179.99.
Headset: This is the device that will allow you to hear high-quality gameplay. Try the universal-gaming-headset (works on all platforms) Turtle Beach Ear Force PX22 Universal Stereo Gaming Headset, which costs $79.95.
Microphone: This is the device that can record either bad-or high-quality voice. A microphone may be the most important piece of equipment apart from the computer, because a big part of “Let’s Play” videos is the gamer’s narrating, talking, making jokes, and being silly in general. You want the best-quality voice recorded when you’re doing all that. I recommend the Blue Microphone Spark Cardioid Condenser, which costs $199.99.
- Get Yourself Some Good Skills and Software
For recording software, XSplit Gamecaster and XSplit Broadcaster are the best, and they also allow gamers to place their faces on screen (which is an important aspect of “Let’s Play” videos and makes it more intimate to develop a relationship with the viewer). They can also immediately stream the videos to sites like YouTube and Twitch, along with share them to social media. Both softwares are packaged together and cost $24.95 for the first three months.
Audacity is free software that allows the gamer to manipulate sound. Gamers will need to decide if they are doing live commentary, which requires quick wit and thinking to continually talk while playing a game. If you want to do post-commentary, Audacity can help with that.
Vegas Pro is both a paid and a free software that will allow you to edit any part of the video you like, along with many other advanced features. Windows Live Movie Maker is another commonly used free software. Final Cut Pro X is also highly recommended. If there is a boring part, feel free to remove it!
- Get Your Game On
At the very start of the first video, use a hook to hook your viewer, then say hello and your name, along with your channel name or gamertag if you’d like. Say what game you are playing.
When you make additional parts of each video, you can give a quick summary of what happened in previous videos if you’d like. Briefly say your name and what you are doing in the video.
Be funny. Be silly. Make jokes. Laugh at your mistakes. Share tips. Fabricate your own story for the game. Have fun, because that means your audience is having fun as well.
- You Got 99 Problems But a “Let’s Play” Ain’t One… Maybe (#FirstWorldProblems)
You will encounter problems as you try to perfect your “Let’s Play” set up, but this how-to should have eliminated most of them, if not all.
Possible problems can include having low-quality equipment that doesn’t produce the best “Let’s Plays”; your having too many wires all over the place, your microphone not capturing all the sound, your video’s and audio’s becoming choppy, your drawing a blank on how to entertain because you are trying too hard (editing helps with this); learning how to improve your editing skills; and other unforeseen problems. Have Advil nearby.
- Keep It Going and Don’t Die, and If You Do, Keep Respawning
Be consistent. If you don’t, your channel will die a slow, painful death. Even if you are busy, find the time to make a video if you can.
When introducing your YouTube channel, tell your audience if you will be making videos each day or only on certain days and times.
Along with posting YouTube videos, use Twitch, a site where viewers can watch your game in real-time. Interact with your audience through voice and text chat.
If you are on YouTube, respond to comments, but ignore stupid or mean ones, which is something all YouTubers must learn to do.
Establish your brand by showing who you are or placing a logo or animation at the start of the video. Also be sure to upload an avatar with your logo and a banner on your YouTube page. Fiverr.com is a great site for this, because you can hire cheap freelance labor.
Most of all, have fun and remember that you are connecting to hundreds if not thousands of people with your videos!
- Learn from the Higher Levels so You Can Level Up, Too
Making these videos isn’t as easy as it looks. Model your videos after those who came before you, and incorporate their techniques and styles into your videos.
Need an example of a Let’s Play video? Feel free to check out my YouTube channel, Scrima Games, at https://www.youtube.com/user/KevinScrimaGamez, where you can find one of my Let’s Play videos on the homepage.