Popularity of videogame videos on YouTube and Twitch have spawned a network of loyal fans that are willing to contribute support to their favorite gamer stars. In return, these gamers need to find a way to sustain their viewers and fans, as well as attract new ones, to support the longevity of their channels. This is where the role of (Re)Playability comes in.
(Re)Playability goes beyond the pull of a narrative, of the graphics, or even of the action of a game to play with what Bogost (2008) calls the “possibility space” (p. 121), of a game. This space is where “the myriad configurations the player might construct to see the ways the processes inscribed in the system work,” (p. 121). Playing with the procedures of a game creates the opportunity for gamers to create new challenges that allows a game to be played differently. An example of this is Many a True Nerd’s (MATN) Fallout (Bethesda Softworks) playlists on YouTube. In addition to playing the game through in “normal” playing mode, MATN also goes back and plays the game in survival mode (a player must stop to eat, drink, and rest), using only non-traditional weapons (no guns), using specific modifications that change how the game is played, and through the many additional DLC worlds. Through the practice of (Re)Playability, MATN manages to flex and push back on the boundaries of the gameplay itself by trying new avenues of playing within a single game.
(Re)Playability not only allows gamer stars to maintain their viewership and potentially their livelihood, but the implications of how these gamers use the procedures to their advantage have impacts on the gaming industry itself. DLC has become a common practice in the last ten years. Consoles have started allowing modifications in games. New playability features such as easier or harder levels are being built into games. By challenging the procedures of the games, the gaming industry has stepped up to say “Challenge Accepted”.
Bogost, I. (2008) “The Rhetoric of Video Games." In The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by K. Salen. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 117–140. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.117