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Youtube and the new AudioVisual Literacy
by Lars Doucet on 03/07/13 01:11:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


[cross-posted from FortressOfDoors]

I've been thinking about writing, journalism, and Youtube a lot lately, and I just realized something: we're moving to a new form of "writing" based on recorded oral culture.

Traditionally, "oral tradition" had no recording method other than people's memory (which can be surprisingly reliable, a far cry from the dismissive assertion that oral tradition is nothing more than "a game of telephone").  But what happens when you take an oral tradition and bring modern day electronic recording to it?  I first heard of this from a research paper my wife did in college, about Somali poetry, based in oral tradition and recorded on cassette tapes.

I think we're seeing a similar thing happening on the internet. My generation of internet nerds grew up "reading" the internet, but I feel the next generation has largely grown up watching it.

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak - popular Youtuber's like TotalBiscuit, the YogsCast, and other prominent "Let's Play"-ers are now capable of driving more traffic to a game than a positive article in a traditional game review magazine.

I don't think writing's dead, to be sure, but I figure it's best I bone up on this new form of "writing," since an entire swath of the population is now used to getting their information this way.

So, with that introduction managed, we've decided to start doing a series of "Let's Play" videos of our own game, with a commentary bonus track like you find on DVD's. This should be an entertaining and accessible way to reach a new audience and also give everyone a look behind the scenes of how we developed the game.

To be sure, I'll still keep writing the old-fashioned way - with words - but I think we all have a lot to gain by studying this new form of "literacy."

Developers Play: Defender's Quest

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Simon Cooper
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I think a big boon of this new form of media is that it's a very effective medium for imparting a broad and varied mix of information in one package. In the same way that talking to someone face-to-face is more compelling than an e-mail, letter or telephone call, video and audio is great for providing insight into a product that embraces the visual and audio mediums far beyond simply conveying that information in text.

In much the same that way the thing everyone most wants to see from presentations of games (at shows like E3 and PAX) is actual gameplay footage, this is the kind of experience let's plays and video reviews can provide over articles in written form. It's at the point now where Let's Plays are pretty much my first and most important stop to deciding whether or not I like the look of a game. It's like being able to sit down with a friend while I watch him play through a game and he tells me how much he loves or hates it, what excites him, what bores him etc, in very much a stream-of-consciousness form. It's literally the next best thing to being able to play it yourself without having to go through the rigmarole of finding a demo (if one is available).

As such, I love seeing devs actively taking this path with their own inside looks, let's plays, development diaries and so forth. Great examples of this are readily available in the indie space, for example Wolfire's work on Overgrowth; always fascinating to see how that game is progressing both mechanically and artistically.