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Leo Wattenberg

How to make a good gameplay video

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Moin. 

I've talked a bit about why making a good Let's Play is hard before, so you may want to read that before plunging into the gameplay video world, but if you decide you do, here are some tips.

(This post assumes that you've already read part 1: Becoming a YouTuber: The Basics and defined your audience and figured out from which angle you'll tackle your videos)

Necessary things

  • Show some form of gameplay in the video
  • That really is all there is to it.

Optimizations

People watch gameplay videos for one of three reasons:

  • Because the personality of the player is great
  • Because the player is skilled
  • Because the game itself is interesting, but too expensive to actually buy, or exclusive to another platform

A good gameplay video can try catering to all three reasons, but two often is enough. Having only one makes things difficult, if you just have a great personality, other content may suit you better, if you only are skilled, you better be among the top skilled people (competitive players, speedrunners), and if you are neither and only want to feature interesting games, typical gameplay formats may not work well for you - you may want to go towards reviews, tutorials or opinion pieces instead. 

Other optimizations:

  • Reduce the amount of failure shown in the video. This is true especially for difficult games, ie anything people watch to see some impressive skill level. Seeing you failing a jump over and over again isn't that interesting, unless your reaction to it is hilarious. The level should steadily progress, not necessarily on a "this is a speedrun" pace, but also not on a "I've failed clearing every single obstacle 5 times now" pace. 
  • Add a human element. Text commentary is better than nothing, voice commentary is better still, and voice+webcam is best and the reason why ~all successful gaming creators run this setup. People like people, and the more you show of yourself in the video, the more people-y your video is. 
  • Structure your video. This is especially true for tutorials/walkthroughs/anything that has an educational goal. For example, alternating between going for the main quest and optional secrets is probably less useful to a viewer than a pure "how to progress in the main quest" section and "all secrets in this level" section. 
  • Livestreams. Livestreams let you interact with your community way better, having an occasional livestream often is helpful, even if you don't reach many people with it. That said, the recordings of livestreams tend to be rather dull, so you'll probably be best off taking them down and trying to edit something entertaining out of them. Tips on how to do that can be found here

Things to avoid

  • Reactionary commentary. "Let's  go here, let's do that, oh, that didn't work" is the most natural way to commentate, but also the most boring way. This kind of commentary doesn't add any value, after all, people can see just fine what you're doing. 
  • Idling in the main menu. There's nothing visually interesting happening in them, and the default talking points (why you're playing the game, how much you like your community, what the game is about, what your schedule is going to look like going forward) aren't interesting either. Idling in the main menu happens most frequently in part 1 of let's plays or walkthroughs where it's the most damaging: Someone wanting to start watching a let's play/walkthrough from start to finish is going to see you doing literally nothing for a while and then likely will go back to look at another search result which hopefully is more entertaining. 

Once you've made some gameplay videos, it's time for part 3: optimizing the channel

 

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