Sometimes you come across something on the internet that makes you shake your said and say, “Wait... is this happening?” Maybe it's so bizarre or mundane, but there it is, existing right in front of you. And you can't believe it's real.
When I was in high school, Goldeneye was life. It's what I played when I got home from school, it's what my friends and I played on the weekends and it's what I thought about when I wasn't playing it. It wasn't just a great game. It brought console gaming even further into the mainstream by making it an actual social event. That was the point when the nerds didn't just play video games. Everyone played them.
Let's not get too carried away though. Calling Goldeneye a social game is true as long as you consider slandering your friends by calling them every curse word you can make up actual social interaction. And, hey, I think it is, but one of my most memorable memories with my peers as a kid was standing around a campfire the night of our final day of junior high and having one of our most honest and vulnerable discussions on what we thought laid ahead of us in life. That's the kind of social interaction that's always going to trump stuff like calling Joe a dickhead because he rigged a spawn point with proximity mines, bragging endlessly about killing Derrick with the klobb or getting made fun of for the rest of your life because you whined too much about wanting to play on normal (I'll never live that down).
Like most kids trash talking during video games, we thought we were all hysterical. The Satellite of Love crew had nothing on us. Our words were comic gold that flowed out of our mouths like the Nile. A filthy, filthy Nile of high-pitched expletives and a total disregard for the feelings of others.
On one particular night, when we were particularly gut-busting, Joe had a great idea. He'd get out his camera and film us playing. That way we would have video evidence of how great we were. We played for an hour and then we went back and watched the footage.
It was awful and we only made it about 20 minutes in. Maybe we had over-thought it and psyched ourselves out. Maybe we turned the camera on just as we were getting out of our comedic groove. But more than likely, we just weren't very funny (okay, make that a 100% chance).
The footage was eventually taped over and it wasn't as embarrassing as it was shrug-worthy. What were we thinking? It's as if we had the type of confidence that only manifests from drunkeness: the dangerous combination of ineptitude and boldness.
At least we had the good sense to realize our failure and never pursue it again. The same can't be said for others today. While searching for videos of Earthbound for a post I did last week, I came across Let's Play videos, which essentially involve YouTubers playing a video game and commenting while doing so. It's not just limited to Earthbound either. You can find literally almost every game, even Barbie and the Magic Pegasus.
While the idea sounds bland, it has potential. It's not too far off from Mystery Science Theater 3000's concept. However, MST3K worked because the writing and performance was fantastic. The show relied on little more than very funny people being funny.
So the problem with Let's Play videos isn't in the concept. The problem is that no one is funny. And if people ever are, they're few and far in between. Part of the magic of MST3K is creating a scripted show and making it feel effortless. It's no coincidence that so many people at one point or another believe that they could just sit around and do the same thing impromptu. It's a credit to the overall production.
And look, I can understand the argument that they serve as a walkthrough, but every video that I watched seemed pretty explicitly created for entertainment purposes. I also understand that some people just enjoy watching other people play games, but there's a big difference between watching your boyfriend play Resident Evil while you fold laundry and taking the time out to watch FireflyDude555's Let's Play Dragon Age video.
I have enough geek skeletons in my closet to know that I'm testing karma by ripping on these people too much, but just like when I discovered the Yankee Candle kid and furries, I can't believe I found this and I can't believe this is real.