The Great Reading Debate

This is partly for curiosity’s sake and partly for my planned LP’s sake, but when you watch a video LP do you prefer that the commentator (if voiced) reads the text on screen out loud? I know it can be annoying if they’re hamming up a serious codex entry and ruining the atmosphere or if they’re reading EVERY SINGLE TEXT LINE, but personally I like the longer texts to be read and the shorter texts to be presented with the idea the viewer will read them.

For my own LP (my first! :0) I was planning on doing just that; reading out longer texts like in-game letters but letting all the short, descriptive texts go by unread. Would that be obnoxious?

I think a case could be made that reading in-game texts out loud could be beneficial for viewers that have dyslexia or other similar disorders. I personally don’t mind LPers reading in-game text, unless they’re being really annoying and obnoxious about it.


I think it’s ok, because sometimes text is important as a clue to a riddle. I enjoy it when they read it sometimes, but if they try and read it in mocking tone, even if it’s the most hammy dialogue or words. It just cones across as arrogant and annoying.

But reading it aloud is also helpful to people to keep notes and signs up for the perfect amount of time, not to fast and not too slow. Just enough.

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It depends on the amount. Also, in the event that text size might be too small for the average viewer to read, I am more inclined to help out there as well. I did a judge dredd gamebook where I mostly read a lot of the text but only the crucial parts (essentially acting as dungeon master).

And then there’s the debate about games that have voice acting and subtitles. The proper thing to do is just let it play out but I’m a bit of a jerk and I tend to push the button once I’ve read through the subtitle (with the exception of cutscenes). It probably does me no favors at all but I just wanna move on to the next line. If the subtitles aren’t readable though, I just let it play out.


Reading out the text for non-comedic timing usually pans out really poorly. It ends up wasting time and commentary flow for something that if the viewer really wants to read, they could end up pausing. Honestly, it’s one of those dividing thing where people either don’t care at all or just fucking cannot stand it. In those kind of situations, I would err on the side of caution and just leave it out, tbh.

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This is definitely preferable to narration for people who hate that sort of thing, but pausing the video and, depending on the game, having to start and stop the video to get the full text, is pretty inconvenient as well. There are a couple different approaches I’ve seen that work pretty well.

One is to take screenshots of the text and post them in the thread. This is especially good for flavor text for items in menus or what-have-you. This way people following the LP can refer to whatever big chunk of text whenever they feel like.

The other is to briefly summarize the text as you’re displaying it, say in the case of a note you find in an adventure game. In the time it takes you to hit the highlights, people interested in the particulars should be given enough time to read the text and those who aren’t still have a decent grasp of what the text said. If you’ve got co-commentators, it won’t break the flow of conversation and allows them to engage a little more with the game.

I really don’t think there’s any one approach to this, and it definitely varies from game to game. Some probably aren’t worth worrying about at all. Try to experiment and figure out what works best for what you’re doing.

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Depending on how long the game is, and how much general down time there is in the average gameplay loop, reading the text aloud while continuing the game and returning to normal commentary later can be a good option. It doesn’t really work if you’re commentating with someone else, or doing live commentary, though.

I think picking one method and sticking to it is better than a mix of multiple styles, too.

Trying to do the thing where you read dialogue or text with goofy voices per-character is one of the fastest ways to make me windmill slam CTRL+W on your video’s tab. There are exceedingly few people who can even do it passably, and even they get grating fast. Reading all the text of something text-heavy slows the video to a crawl, too. I think the best way of handling it is to just tell people to pause for big things, maybe take images from a VLP for big text dumps to put in the thread, or potentially read key snippets out as you read if it’s blind and you’re actually just sitting there reading.

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The absolute best “dramatic reading of text” I’ve seen was how davidspackage handled the text collectibles in his Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs LP, and even then he also offered a “no talking” alternative option.

That’s an interesting option - dual audio presentation, like the cut/uncut commentary for group LPs of games with talkie cutscenes. One set of videos with readings of the text, and one set without. It doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to record the full audio version and silence the talking over text portions, in general, but I guess it depends on how much text there is. I’ve seen people post individual videos of things like the journals in Myst, where they read the text aloud, as well as screenshots in the thread. That works well when the text is really slowing the game down.

As for my personal opinion, I’ve gotten used to people reading the text on Youtube. It’s slightly irritating, but as long as the LP overall is sufficiently entertaining, it’s not a showstopper for me. (I’ve even seen one with people I think were professional voice actors reading the lines from a script and edited in.) And I have to admit that it’s beneficial to people who have difficulty with the text or are blind and just listen to the videos for the commentary. I should probably start doing it myself, in the dual style.

I pretty much agree with @Daeren’s take: when someone starts reading out a bunch of dialog, especially when they try to act or do any kind of dramatic reading, I’m probably going to close that tab right quick. Short strings of text are fine.

Chances are, if the game you’re playing has a lot of unvoiced dialog that conveys most of the story, it’s probably better off as a screenshot LP than a video one. In cases where most of the story scenes are voiced but there’s unvoiced dialog elsewhere, just leave the text box on the screen for a bit, maybe comment on what the character is saying. I remember ChipCheezum’s Mega Man Legends LP did a great job of this: just let the dialog hang out and speak for itself, comment when a line is funny or important, maybe read aloud something that’s especially funny, especially if you have decent comedic delivery.

It’s probably a personal taste thing, though. There are plenty of LPers on YouTube who do big JRPGs and read all the dialog aloud and have tons of views, so what do I know?


Heh, this was a debate I had internally with my own LP of Spooky’s Jumpscare Mansion actually. My co-host John tends to read out dialog when it appears, but I try to do… well this: [quote=“Thyme, post:11, topic:840”]
I remember ChipCheezum’s Mega Man Legends LP did a great job of this: just let the dialog hang out and speak for itself, comment when a line is funny or important, maybe read aloud something that’s especially funny, especially if you have decent comedic delivery.
There was actually an episode where I did end up reading the entirety of the notes because I liked them, but I ended up cutting that out because it annoyed me while I was editing it. There’s an episode eventually where I just straight up tell John to do what Thyme was talking about, and I’ve established with my other co-host Mikah that this is our policy going forward. (it doesn’t help that none of us are voice actors and also are probably not very funny)

The only playthrough I can think of where they were reading out the dialog and it actually worked was Push Buttons 'n Talk’s Pheonix Wright playthrough, mostly because ProZD is a good voice actor and a really funny dude. Some of GameGrump’s text heavy stuff is sortof watchable for similar reasons I guess, although frankly those are usually their worst videos and have lead to a lot of… cringey moments.

Guess I’m going against the grain on this one but I really prefer it when people read aloud any text or dialogue in a game. Maybe it’s partly because I tend to watch LPs as something on the side when I’m working or drawing or on some project at home, and treat it somewhat like a podcast (with a video portion for the interesting parts). Especially if they do silly / goofy voices, because I just find that more entertaining than just presenting the game as is and I tend not to find that obnoxious - I’d rather somebody put in more energy than to err on the side of being too passive.

But that too is probably because I prefer letsplayers that act like entertainers, and the games are just a platform for them to use to do that. As opposed to being somebody who presents the game as the primary focus, because then what’s the point in specifically watching you do it?

Ugh, this is something I’ve always been struggling with myself on whether I actually want to read dialog in videos whenever I’m able to do video LPs once I get the resources, especially since I want to mainly LP RPGs. When done well it makes the video interesting and gives it an individual flavor, when not done well it’s full of cringe and makes me want to turn off the video immediately. There’s also the nagging idea that people might not want you to spoon feed them dialog since they can read it themselves though at the same time actually reading the dialog would make it go at a good pace without risking going through it too quickly if the LPer is a somewhat fast reader.

I guess the best way to do this is to do some practice videos of reading dialog and then hearing it back to see if it’s cringy or not would probably be the best way to go about it.

I know I’m late as hell to the party, but I intended to post something and just forgot to.

First, I don’t really like it when the player reads the text, unless they really know how to sell it; which rarely happens. Most of time I just get frustrated that I can visually read faster than the LPer.

Now, what I tend to do in these situations is let the text linger long enough for me read through it twice and then continue. Commentary-wise, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing the Solid Snake approach and repeat key terms and phases that are important. Like, “Bread spoils after 5 days? I should probably keep that in mind.” That way if someone is just listening rather than watching, at least they’ll have an idea of what’s going on.

On top of that I try to tailor my commentary to fill the roles of both the expert and the newcomer. That way I can explain gameplay related stuff during gameplay while acting like I don’t know what’s going on during the story bits.

I’ll go by my own experience and how I do things. I don’t mind when people read the stuff out loud, and if done right, it can add a lot to the video. Some of the funnier moments in the LP’s I’ve seen are from people voicing out lines on their own.

I also try and do that with my videos as well. I’ll give a character a voice, and try my best to keep it throughout the series. I think it also works because it gives each character a unique voice, which is helpful if you get confused on who said what when reading a lot of text. In the end, it’s up to the LPer, and how they choose to go about it.

I’m with @Daeren and @Thyme on this one. Basically, if you read large amounts of text aloud - especially if you also do silly voices - I am not watching your videos. If doing it works for you and your audience enjoys it, more power to you but I personally don’t like that kind of thing in the slightest.

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Can’t say I’m really a fan of it. I’ll tolerate it in some cases, but it’s really not the main reason I’ll watch certain LPers.

If it gets grating though, I’m out.

Nothing makes me turn off faster than someone reading the text, especially in a voice.

I definitely think summarising the text is okay, or just finding a decent length of time to leave it up on screen before scrolling through it if it’s a text heavy game.