The Problem With Let’s Plays

Recently, some drama has been stirred up in the LP (short for ‘Let’s Play’: people playing through games on YouTube, usually with commentary) community, specifically by the veterans at the Retsupurae channel against one of the most suddenly popular LPers, PewDiePie. Almost exactly a week ago, the fellows at Retsupurae released a video compilation of several people watching Pewdie videos and having less than favorable responses. This article is not a straight-out bash on Pewdie—I think he’s a genuinely nice guy that’s trying his hardest to entertain his demographic—but from watching the video it made me reconsider my own reasons for liking his channel, for enjoying LPs in general. There’s a staggeringly dangerous trend on the rise in currently popular LPs and it’s very well showcased in the video from Retsupurae.

I mean, of course, the baffling persistence of rape jokes.

This is not merely limited to jokes: I am wont to find an LPer that hasn’t screeched something about raping or being raped by an enemy in moments of stress, but this is the problem entirely. How is it that culture permits that the first expletive that comes to someone’s mind when getting attacked or having something mildly unfavorable happen to them, both during gaming and in real life situations as well (such as taking a test), is the most heinous form of sexual assault? It’s easy to get swept away in the heat of the moment—lord knows I don’t have anywhere near to the cleanest mouth when I game, especially competitively—but there is a problem when it’s easier to resort to something that could potentially trigger a wide berth of one’s audience over something like, “you motherfucking cocksucker, what the fuck?! That’s fucking cheap, you piece of shit.”

Now that LPs are reaching an age of prosperity, how one delivers their performance and which words one transmits their message through need to become increasingly more important. It needs to be paid attention to. We all know that LPers, more often than not, don’t act in real life the way they do on the internet, but the persona cannot and should not be allowed to become the excuse. The fact is that using rape in such nonchalant ways trivializes and desensitizes the audience to the act and the impact it has on a societal level and especially a personal level. In essence, when someone comments that “it’s just a joke,” they are not only invalidating the very real reactions of victims and non-victims alike, but also perpetuating an almost subconscious shift in thought that rape is not a serious issue.

I could go on for roughly forever about how video games, rape culture, and the gaming community all live in an eternal circlejerk with each other and you could tell me that if I don’t like it, I don’t have to watch it. Society is at this ridiculous stalemate that it shouldn’t be at. If you were to ask someone whether they thought rape was okay, without a doubt I know that 99% of them would say something along the lines of, “of course not.”

However, many of these same people will laugh when someone like PewDiePie cracks one off about Irresponsible Dad from Happy Wheels getting raped by his son.

You people in the LPing community, you’re talented. Playing games while commenting on them and being entertaining is not an easy thing to do, but try to think about what you’re saying. You don’t have to be clean, you don’t even have to be coherent (“safhasdrasdga” is a perfectly suitable reaction to some things), but you need to start to realize the impact that you have and will continue to have on your audience. There’s a reason why kids go around saying things like, “move faster, pokey,” and “BARRELS!!” out of nowhere: they will latch on to everything you say. Every unknowing meme you create. Every joke that comes out of your mouth. Especially if you repeat it over and over. Maybe you’ve already realized this and I’m preaching to the choir, but if you’re not doing something to help it, you’re part of the problem. But, just in case you’re still on the edge about your jokes, I’ve included this site right here to help you. Use it well.

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About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.