Picture posted above the links to the videos of slowbeef's Let's Play of The Immortal, displayed on his website

In 2006, on the Something Awful forums, users of the site began posting experiences of their full play-throughs of various video games. Eventually these accounts of experiences were called "Let's Plays", and the term was from then on used to refer to an Internet user telling and commenting on their experience on a video game, usually as they played it, whether it be through screenshots, text, or now the most popular method, video.

In 2007, Something Awful user slowbeef (who later became known for being the creator and one of the commentators in the group "Retsupurae", which commented on sub-par or downright horrible Let's Plays) created the first video Let's Play - a video of him playing the game The Immortal for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was released in 1990, which he played on a game emulator. The very fact that the popular Let's Play phenomenon was converted to video form mixed with the general likability of Slowbeef's sarcastic and irreverent humor made the video method of Let's Playing catch on very carefully.

Before the end of 2007, Let's Play videos started popping up on the still fairly-new video-sharing website, YouTube. Whether the Let's Players used computer recording software to record emulated and/or PC games or used the infamous method of using a camcorder on a TV screen (or in even worse cases, a computer screen), the videos were becoming the new "cool thing" to do if you were a video gamer. By 2008, entire accounts were created specifically for Let's Playing, and before the end of the year, most YouTubers weren't even aware that the concept of Let's Playing was not started on YouTube, or that they weren't even videos before. Many Something Awful users to this day mock ignorant YouTube users for thinking that this subcultural phenomenon was theirs, and following in slowbeef's footsteps with his Retsupurae account, frequently comment on bad Let's Play videos, which are an easy target for scorn.

In the summer of 2010, several troll YouTube accounts were made and used the flawed DMCA (Digital Milennium Copyright Act) to pose as companies that claimed to own the content of videos, and as in many cases, Let's Plays were an easy target. Several famous Let's Players and gaming channels were taken down because of false DMCA copyright claims made by these troll accounts. Some users confronted YouTube - a few of them personally - about the situation, but YouTube did nothing to stop this. YouTube admitted to the fact that much of their website is bot-controlled, and copyright claims are very much so. Ridiculous claims had been made by troll accounts, including one claiming to own the voice of the commentators. Most if not all of the accounts suspended were reinstated within 4-6 weeks of being suspended, as many of them used a counter-claim system. Because the troll accounts had no legal proof of owning the content, the accounts were lifted from their suspension and the offending accounts were taken down. Even though many of the accounts that had their accounts suspended have been reinstated, the Let's Play community generally considers the time a major event in the history of Let's Playing.

To this day, Let's Playing is an extremely popular activity, accumulating hundreds of millions of views across thousands of users, more than four years later.

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