I am coming to the realization that either my taste in media is not reflective of my age, or that people more solidly in the Gen-Z range have amazing taste in content. Most recently, I have found myself sucked in to Minecraft YouTube, the main creators of which are almost in college (or, dropped out to pursue MC YouTube full time). That said, I find the content itself less interesting than the way it is framed. This might be a more general critique of clickbait naming practices, and I have separate thoughts about the standard YouTube content ideas real-people YouTubers (like, ones you see on camera) user, but I think it is worth thinking about this trend – more pronounced on games you can mod, like Minecraft – of doing “[GAME], but [condition].”
I have no problem with this inherently, but the rise of “but” videos (as I guess I’m calling them), is interesting. One baseline explanation might be that Lets Play videos are getting antiquated. Some of the biggest names in Minecraft YouTube, and thus gaming youtube as a whole, are speedrunners. If you’re going to play the game at regular speed, you have to add something to it to make it qualitatively different lest you make content that is by a fact of time less interesting than the way the community is currently oriented around the game. There needs to be a new risk (black hole), some weird element (item randomness), or something completely out of left field (gta5).
I’m actually way over 100 words I’m stopping here. Topics to follow up on: IRL youtuber narrative structures, Minecraft renaissance/audience age growth, clickbait discourse.