Who Are Video Game Celebrities?

I think video games are in a unique position when it comes to recognizing who their celebrities are. There are the characters and mascots, like Nintendo’s Super Mario, one of the most recognizable characters in media history. There are some video game developers who also become celebrities themselves, such as Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima.


Iwata and Miyamoto, two of the most influential figures in video games

But what makes video game celebrities unique is the rise of Lets Plays. While there are famous reviewers for other forms of media, video games are the only medium (I can think of) where celebrities broadcast their live experiences with their subject matter. The most popular independent channel on YouTube, Pewdiepie, is a lets play channel with over 29 million subscribers. These types of channels take up a huge portion of YouTube audiences. Earlier this month, live streaming website Justin.tv was shut down to focus on the popularity of their video game service, Twitch TV. Twitch functions similarly to YouTube lets plays, but allows audiences to watch live, see the live reaction of the player and interact with them via chat. Twitch have spawned their own video game celebrities, and has helped popularize esports such as League of Legends. 

I wasn’t able to find any famous Asian lets play channels. However, there are many esport celebrities for games like Starcraft and DotA2, particularly in South Korea. Starcraft 2 is so popular in South Korea it has been likened to its national sport. 

I think their are a couple of reasons why lets plays have become so popular. People often become fans of a YouTuber for comedic reasons. Players can convey their own entertaining personality while using the medium of a video game to either discuss what is going on or react to what their are experiencing. Some YouTubers are also popular for creating guides for players, providing a visual walkthrough and commentary for those playing the games themselves. 



  1. I faced similar issues as you did with trying to locate famous Asian Let’s Players, as I’m sure they existed, but I was unable to read their name or further investigate further into their social media habits. For my post I spoke about Hideki Kamiya’s Twitter account and the way in which he greatly promotes himself through fan interaction. What I also find interesting about Kamiya’s Twitter is that half of it is written in English, the other half Japanese – allowing for a wider audience to access his content. Perhaps if this were more prevalent in my initial field of study I would have struggled far less this week. Have you found any famous Asian Let’s Players who are currently living in what some would consider a traditionally “western” environment?


  2. Reading this blog really made me think about how participatory media elevates regular people to the status of celebrities (at least relative to the YouTube community). This phenomenon is especially unique because Lets Play videos totally subvert the conventions of how the entertainment industry typically operates e.g. we mostly see engagement with finished pieces of media (films, artworks, theatre) purely through the lens of criticism and analysis. Lets Play videos, in contrast, are not necessarily about analysis, but adding to the work through a unique and personal new (performed) perspective.
    It’s seems key in your research to investigate Twitch more heavily as a conduit for Asian players to communicate their experiences to people like you, who are presented with predominantly Caucasian appearances via YouTube.


  3. ‘Starcraft 2 is so popular in South Korea it has been likened to its national sport.’
    Can we talk about the elephant in the room, that sentence above is kind of concerning. Just looking at this video of ‘inside StarCraft 2’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_dq72ip6uc, the amount of energy drinks that were given to the players was a bit off , but I don’t know, I’m not a gamer, just thinking out loud, it doesn’t seem right.


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