There’s no game audio because he hasn’t even figured out that part yet.

“I always tried to add some little extra thing to the Let’s Plays that I did,” he said. “With The Immortal, I said ‘well, lemme try a commented video type thing.’ I called it Player’s Commentary, like a DVD—like a director’s commentary type thing.”


The response was positive, and it prompted Sawyer to change the direction of the Let’s Play.


There was something about a voice that amplified the connection between the commentator and the spectating audience, and Sawyer could see it playing out as the thread progressed.

“I got so many people posting in the thread “going ‘Holy shit, I played this as a kid and I could never get past that fucking worm room,’” he said, “[or] ‘My dad could never do it, please avenge my dad, that was the time I lost faith in him.’”


Let’s Plays exploded in the games section before they were segregated to their own forum.

“One of the game mods hated Let’s Play and things like that,” said Sawyer.

As YouTube became a viable platform for hosting videos, Let’s Plays left Something Awful.


The question, then, is the one proposed at the start: how do you define an inventor?

Skip “World Video Game Champion” Rodgers was talking over video games in 80s VHS tapes to help people get high scores in video games. Do those count as a Let’s Play?

GameCenter CX, in which the hilarious Shinya Arino has been exposing himself to brutal games over and over again, has been going since 2003. Do those count as a Let’s Play?

Lots of things can exist before they become formalized and understood. Even if you want to dispute whether Sawyer is or isn’t responsible for what we now call Let’s Plays, it’s difficult to argue Something Awful wasn’t ground zero for what what’s now dominant all over YouTube.


While at PAX East this year, Sawyer bumped into a bunch of YouTube personalities, several of whom have found success through Let’s Plays to the tune of millions of subscribers. He was surprised they knew who he was, and he followed them to a community gathering at a bar.

“It was like nerd Hollywood. [...] It was crazy,” he said. “It’s a very weird thing to have inadvertently engendered in some indirect way, I guess. [...] But they even made a joke about it, too. ‘So, we’re going to be hearing from your lawyers soon, right?’ And I’m like ‘Well!’ [laughs]”


Sawyer does not own the term Let’s Play, at least in this context. No one does. But he was there when it was digitally baptized.

“I really never market myself as the first Let’s Player,” he said. “I try to be as modest as I can be with trying to tell what I really do think happened.”


It’s true: Sawyer doesn’t advertise his connections to Let’s Plays on any of his accounts.

“Saying Slowbeef did the first LP is entirely reasonable,” said Karlsson, overseer of the Let’s Play Archive. “I’m sure people will still bicker about it, but then that’s the internet for you.”


“If you’re a central figure in it, it’s hard to talk about that without sounding really arrogant,” he said. “The thing is, I really do, honestly, want to give credit where credit’s due to all the people who did it with me, too, on Something Awful. Maxwell Adams of the Freelance Astronauts, Psychedelic Eyeball, and Proton Jon—all them. It would be dick of me to be just like ‘yeah, fuck it, somebody else take it, I don’t give a shit about this thing.’ It sucks because I’m part of it so ‘Hey, I’m great, too!’ You’re kind of stuck.”

And that’s what we’re left with. Is this the truth? Possibly. Maybe. Like most things on the Internet, it’s probably somewhere in-between, and we’ll just have to keep fighting about it.


You can reach the author of this post at or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.