Jimmy Kimmel recently made headlines for poking fun of video game and Let’s Play culture on YouTube. The late-night ABC host consequently had to deal with lots of flak from angry gamers and online video fans. Some of these viewers threatened Kimmel or told him he was out-of-date, responses the host also proceeded to mock.
However, Kimmel noted he was willing to learn about the world of online gaming if someone would teach him. While YouTubers like Philip DeFranco and The Game Theorists originally offered to instruct Kimmel in the ways of YouTube gaming, two gamers partnered with Disney-owned Maker Studios ended up doing the honors. In a segment for Kimmel’s show posted to YouTube on September 4, the TV host sat down with Mark Fischbach (aka Markiplier) and Jonna Mae (aka MissesMae) to discover what the YouTube gaming and Let’s Play cultures are all about.
Kimmel states in the beginning of the clip that maybe he “did pre-judge something he knew nothing about.” But even after meeting Markiplier and MissesMae, Kimmel doesn’t back down from his stance that YouTube gaming is still fair comedy fodder. The TV host points out the negative feedback he joked about earlier on his show, and even read a response from Mae herself which asked why he had to attack online gaming and Let’s Plays.
“I laughed at [your show], but I would say it was a little bit insulting,” Mae responds, “because I do understand the work and the effort that people put into doing something like this.”
Kimmel then asks the YouTube gamers to explain why it’s fun watching other people play video games. Markiplier points out how today’s generations of viewers treat video game content much the same way Kimmel acted when he was younger and watching his friends play games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong at the arcade.
“That would be the most ready equivalent that I would make — people watching your friends play games,” Fischbach says.
The two gamers then show Kimmel a clip of a Let’s Play video made by MissesMae, where she has her parents wear a virtual reality headset and ride a fake roller coaster in Minecraft. Kimmel seems to enjoy the content, saying he approves of “anything that involves screwing with your parents.” Markiplier explains how watching other people have fun and laugh is one of the biggest draws of Let’s Play culture. The three then proceed to record their own Let’s Play video by playing Rocket League.
Kimmel’s online gaming education wasn’t without its awkward moments, though. Markiplier and Mae appear uncomfortable on screen during certain questions the TV hosts asks them, like if Markiplier has sex with his fans after live events. Then during the Rocket League Let’s Play recording, Kimmel asks why his controller is vibrating like a sex toy. At the end of the segment, the three share a stiff hug which prompts Kimmel to suggest Markiplier and MissesMae try being around other humans sometimes.
Kudos should be given to Markiplier and MissesMae for trying to educate Kimmel on YouTube gaming and Let’s Play culture. However, Kimmel’s questionable comments about having sex with fans and spending time with more people didn’t contribute to the overall conversation about YouTube gaming. Plus, the weird interactions between Kimmel, Markiplier, and MissesMae probably didn’t help to convince Kimmel’s broadcast audience about the value of online gaming content, which is a $3.8 billion per year industry.
Kimmel’s new segment also doesn’t shed much light on the obsessive culture and community behind the Let’s Play and YouTube gaming industry, which is one of the topics online video production company Rooster Teeth hopes to address in its upcoming documentary Let’s Play Live. That project will show exactly how the company’s Achievement Hunter gaming branch managed to sell out nearly 2,000 seats earlier this year at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas, simply because fans wanted to see the Achievement Hunter cast play games in person instead of on their screens.
Overall, the entire segment seem inauthentic, like another opportunity for Kimmel to poke fun of Let’s Plays instead of having an actual conversation about them. Granted, like MissesMae pointed out in a separate video she recently uploaded to her channel, viewers didn’t see the full one-hour, beneficial discussion she and Markiplier had with Kimmel. And Kimmel at least showed a step in the right direction by talking to Markiplier and MissesMae about the online gaming culture in the first place. Hopefully now the late night host has a better understanding of why people love watching other people play video games on YouTube.