Recent Comments

Lindsey Decker

Yes — those labels are problematic, I know, particularly because they have been created and are generally assigned by people who consider themselves to be “hardcore” gamers. In terms of Minecraft, have you run across the HermitCraft server / group? I think they really fit with what you’re talking about here.

Lindsey Decker

Yes — I think “playing differently” is very much at hand in a number of the lets-plays and streams I’ve seen that engage with/in (re)playability. Also, particularly the Minecraft communities that Ashley mentions above.

Ashley Jones

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll look into that more!

Ashley Jones

While I think the labels of hardcore/casual gamer are problematic, I do think that (Re)Playability is for individuals that are more invested in gaming as a pastime rather than your average mobile gamer, for example. (Re)Playability does lend itself to other games such as Minecraft as well. For example, several YouTubers have played Minecraft on a server with other individuals to show off impressive builds and then had their own worlds that they do a survival run-through on. Or perhaps they put the game into creative mode and show viewers how to build something that they’ve seen in other worlds or on a multi-player server world. If there are multiple run-throughs of a game (even if it’s the cause of a death such as in Ark: Survival Evolved), I think (Re)Playability is at hand.

Tyler1 championship first esports toxicity
Eric A James

The same day this piece was published, Riot Games lifted the permanent ban on Tyler1’s account. Really demonstrates what you were saying.

Tyler1 championship first esports toxicity
Eric A James

I totally agree. While companies like Riot Games have done a lot of work in rolling out new tribunal ban systems for their games, featuring cosplayers and artists rather than toxic streamers, and hiring women casters (though not nearly enough), they’re constantly struggling with the fact that streamers such as Tyler1 are a huge part of what unites their playerbase/spectators. Even beyond the historic relationship between gaming fandoms and hate, what makes developing a set of ethical guidelines for esports (which I love your characterization of) even more difficult is that eSports fandom seems to behave something like an entanglement between traditional sporting fandom and online televisual fandom. The macho structural (and legal) limitations of the former combine with the absurdist humor of the latter in some hard to manage ways.

Eric A James

Thank you for great thought teaser on (re)playability! Modded and alternate-objective Lets Play videos and streams such as MATN’s are great evidence of the ways that gaming communities have adopted this long-standing emphasis on ludic gaming experiences for community formation. In particular, I’d love to delve into the ways that these alternate paths of play are built in collaboration with an audience and emulated across streamers. The “how can I break this well?” question just so well unifies gaming spectatorship, devoted fandom, and modding communities.

While I agree with Lindsey that hardcore play has a powerful influence on the ways that games are modded and played differently for spectators and is worth investigation - especially in the Machinima history of games - I would also want to explore ways in which these replays (particularly non-violent Minecraft gameplay videos) are a practice in playing differently, in making the game suit other creative ends beyond difficulty. For future research, I might recommend looking into Pokemon communities. Especially because the base Pokemon games are so similar, streamers and community members alike have come up with a bunch of different alternative ways to play the game (Nuzlockes are amazing) that get played up in streaming communities for a bunch of different exciting reasons.

Tyler1 championship first esports toxicity

This is a great post that touches upon some important issues in esports and game studies. You’re also asking similar questions that Laurel Rogers and myself ask in our IMR post.

I have to wonder: Are streamers like Tyler1 successful not in spite of their toxic behavior, but because of it? As you’ve observed, many people identify with his brand of sexism and toxicity. In addition, I wonder what our expectations should be for platforms like Twitch, who in some ways benefit from this sort of behavior, even as they might seek to control or ban it.

What would a set of ethical guidelines for esports look like?

-Dan Lark

Lindsey Decker

Interesting post! (Re)playability also seems to be in play with forking-path RPGs, I think, given the wealth of playthroughs that are done to show video game spectators the different paths through a game’s story, the different potential endings, etc.

I wonder, do you think that the rise of (re)playability and lets-play replays has anything to do with the increased emphasis on (among self-identified “hardcore gamers”) game difficulty, with games like Dark Souls, etc.? It seems like the MATN example you’re discussing here is partly about replaying with different self-imposed difficulty conditions, and I know that there are also lets-plays where streamers do non-violent Minecraft playthroughs on survival mode, or play through various games on stealth. Or do you think these videos are more aimed at a casual gaming audience, or an audience somewhere in-between casual and hardcore?

John A. Riley

Thank you for drawing attention to this trope. I was wondering if you could elaborate on what you think the most striking examples of it are? I’d especially be interested in examples that date from around the time that Stranger Things is set.