Last week, Kill Screen’s Jamin Warren and PBS collaborated to produce and air “PBS Game/Show,” featuring insightful, albeit brief, commentary on videogames and its corresponding culture. This week on Game/Show, Warren discusses Let’s Play videos, specifically Pewdiepie, the eccentric Swedish host of the most subscribed channel on YouTube.
Pewdiepie has over 12 million subscribers, which Warren notes is more than Justin Bieber, Katie Perry, or Miley Cyrus. This leads into the point of the episode – why are Let’s Play videos so popular?
Warren cites the need for gamers to “reconnect” after spending a decade in solitude, which he dubbed “the lonely gamer” period. Anyone around my age or older (27), knows all about the lonely gamer period, which occurred before Sega ever decided going online was the future of console gaming with its Saturn, and then, tragically before its time, with the Dreamcast (I salute you, Sega).
But who is Pewdiepie, and why is he not only the Let’s Play king, but the YouTube king?
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known by his YouTube name, Pewdiepie, makes Let’s Play videos, is the most subscribed entity on YouTube, and I’ve only just heard of him because of PBS Game/Show.
The moment you hit Kjellberg’s page, you’re bombarded by bros – “Sup’ Bro?” reads an avatar icon in his YouTube cover photo; “Hey bros, my name is Pewdiepie!” reads his About page. He also refers to his subscribers as his bros, with “become a bro” the official subscription link.
Bros. The term itself is problematic – It hits upon male camaraderie, or more specifically, white male camaraderie. Kjellberg represents the lowest common denominator, the bros of gaming, delineated by their shared interest in all things shooter, mainstream, and faux pas (the fedora).
Then there’s the chauvinism: “Pretty suuure she has tits…that’s my criteria of a lady, right there,” said Kjellberg in his Let’s Play of “The Last of Us”.
Like it or not, Kjellberg is the face of gaming. He represents the perception of the sweaty palmed gamer to the non-gaming literate. The folks who don’t consider videogames a medium worthy of art and great storytelling.
But I still enjoyed watching Pewdiepie. What the hell does that say about me?
Check out the latest PBS Game/Show below. Why do you think Let’s Play is so popular?