A Let's Player's Playful Attitude in a YouTube Community
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Let’s Play videos have been on the rise for the last decade, as well as the number of people who create these videos. Let’s Players document video game content, often appearing on screen and adding their own commentary. The videos have now become a common source of entertainment on YouTube; some of the most popular Let’s Player’s channels getting an average of over 7 million views every day. But what makes these videos so appealing to people? The subject has not been debated much, though scholars have mostly discussed this phenomenon through concepts of play and performance. From my perspective, an underlying cultural shift towards playfulness is at the core of the development of this cultural phenomenon; we now seek the intimate, emotional and fun through things which are not intrinsically designed to be so. In my thesis, I argue that the concept of playful attitude, by the theory of Miguel Sicart, is essential for understanding the appeal of Let's Play videos in contemporary video game society. Not only does the concept shed a new light on the subject, it also places it helps us to situate it in the contemporary Western culture of technology. How does ShadyPenguinn (a popular Let's Player), engage his audience through playful identity? I have conducted a textual analysis of three of his Pokémon videos, analysing patterns in his language, play and behaviour in order to answer this question. ShadyPenguinn creatively mixes his roles of entertainer, player and community leader to engage his audience. His playful attitude towards these roles not only adds interesting dynamics to the game, but is at the core of a Let's Play's unique experience.