PC Game Adding Option To Disable Popular YouTuber Characters After Players Complain

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Shortly after the release of Steam prison break hit The Escapists 2, players flooded the forums with questions. "Who are these people with weird names and funny coloured hair," they wanted to know, "and why can't I make them go away?"

The Escapists 2 is a sandbox game in which you try to escape from a series of increasingly ludicrous prisons including a Wild West train, a boat that's gonna maroon you on an island, and Space Prison. When you begin a level, the game whips up a batch of semi-procedurally generated characters to populate each area.

Players have been surprised to find that this sometimes includes a handful of popular YouTubers and streamers like JackSepticeye, DanTDM, and CinnamonToastKen. When the game first came out last week, these real people with fake names appeared a little too often for players' tastes, garnering a deluge of complaints:

Some players feel like YouTubers and streamers are just a marketing gimmick that crashes through the fourth wall and shatters any sense of immersion. Sure, they figure, it will be fun for popular YouTubers to see themselves in prison, or for smaller time YouTubers to make videos where they torment famous YouTubers, but if it comes at the cost of regular players' enjoyment, is the extra promotion really worth it?

Others feel like their inclusion is an attempt at pandering to children, who players perceive as only a small part of the game's audience.

The Escapists 2, As Told By Steam Reviews

The Escapists made a name for itself on Steam by blending crafting with prison breaks. So it's not surprising that adding more prisons, multiplayer, and more places to escape from, has worked out well for the sequel.

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In reality, though, it's a bit more complicated than that. For one, this isn't even the first time YouTubers have appeared in The Escapists series. A few, like Paul Soares Jr. and Jim Sterling, appeared as prison wardens in the original.

Second, YouTubers and streamers played a big role in the success of the first Escapists, cultivating much of its community and culture. This can be seen everywhere from view counts and comments on YouTubers' videos to The Escapists' Steam Workshop, where the second most popular map of all time is a YouTuber tribute simply titled "JackSepticeye."

It's for that reason, say the game's developers, that they gave YouTubers and streamers a more prominent role in The Escapists 2.

"We've had a long association with content creators for The Escapists," said a rep for Team17 in an email, "and they played a key part in helping it become a success."

Despite that, Team17 acknowledged that YouTubers and streamers were appearing a bit more frequently than intended, claiming it was "a bug that wasn't found before the launch of the game."

Already, the developer has released a patch to reduce that, which has partially stemmed the tide of complaints but also introduced a new one:

So it goes both ways. Some folks despise YouTubers and wish they could toss them in the actual clink, but for others, they're a major selling point. "My kids love seeing the YouTubers," wrote another Steam user in the same thread. "They're the celebrities of the new generation of gamers."

Some players, though, don't want to see any YouTubers at all, and Team17 hears them. The developer told me it will soon introduce another patch that will allow players to toggle off YouTubers and streamers altogether.

While The Escapists 2's situation is an extreme one, several other games have brought on YouTubers and streamers to do character voices to varying degrees of success, as well as some controversy. As YouTubers and streamers become even more entrenched in gaming culture, they will inevitably appear in and around more and more games.

They're celebrities, familiar faces, and no matter how much technology and media change, people will always be drawn first and foremost to people. Is that a good thing, though? The jury's clearly still out.

In TV and film, celebrities come part and parcel with whatever show or movie you're watching. They're a huge element of the production, so it's not weird to see this person you've seen in a million other places suddenly riding horses and spitting tobacco as a cowboy or whatever. Video games' crop of homegrown celebrities, though, are outsiders and middlemen who've increasingly become insiders, which has proven jarring for a lot of people.

They're also not strictly necessary to the production in the way actors are, a fact that's compounded by the nature of YouTubers and streamers' celebrity. Traditional actors are supposed to blend into the settings, while the whole appeal of having a YouTuber physically appear in a game like The Escapists hinges on them standing out.

Frankly, though, it's not all that hard for me to imagine a future in which YouTubers and streamers appear in lots of games and nobody bats an eyelash. As in The Escapists' case, they're becoming intrinsic to the communities that form around games, and TV and film have already conditioned us to be cool with famous people being everywhere.

Sometimes gimmicks fade into obscurity, but other times, they're just a preview of the new normal.

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Comments

    Ugh. I always wondered what it would be about the younger generation that I, as an oldie, would find disgusting. Turns out it's young people revering YouTubers (whose voices almost universally provoke a reaction in me similar to that of nails on a chalk board... "Hey guys, what's up?!") as celebrities.

    Fuddy-duddyness here I come.

      Not-actually-old-oldies-unite.
      I know man. I'm thirty and considered technically a millennial but 90% of people just a few years younger, also "millennials", might as well be an entirely different culture.

      I'm in my 30s (old apparently) and I agree. These people are so narcissistic and annoying.
      i can't imagine anyone my age thinking these youtubers are actually entertaining. They are loud, crass, and infantile. As a kid I probably would have liked it though.

      The sad thing is there are some great Youtubers out there, but the masses seem to want to idolise the terrible ones. Most of the channels with the most subs are clickbaity narcissistic bullshit.

        The narcissism is right, for sure. When I'm trying to research a game that I might want to buy, few things enrage me as much as videos where the first fucking half of the thing is a static screen or the YouTube just idling in the game while they talk. It's that cult of personality bullshit... fucker, I'm not here for YOU, I'm here for the resources your thumbnail/title led me to believe you had!

        The few channels I frequent to are no-nonsense, 'does what it says on the box' demonstrations or let's plays with minimal (or preferably NO) talking. The only one I even bother subscribing to is candyland. No talking!

        Unfortunately, I can't imagine the kids want to see Captain Disillusion or the Primitive Technology guy in their games (although if I was ever stuck on a desert island with any one YouTuber, Primitive Technology guy would be my number one choice).

          I'm not familiar with those two, what kind of content do they make?

            Captain Disillusion teaches about special effects and critical thinking when watching video media. He's funny and informative and stays true to his catch-phrase "Love with your heart, but use your head for everything else". If you've seen a viral video and thought "I wonder how they did that?" he'll most likely have the answer.

            Primitive Technology is an Aussie guy in the bush who's starting from scratch and is almost up to the iron age. Using nothing but his hands he's started at the bottom and gone from making tools (like axes) to baskets to fishing traps to building a house with a fireplace, a kiln, a tiled storage area and heaps more.

            I cannot recommend them enough (or Extra Credit if you're into game design).

            None of them scream or yell for attention. They produce high quality content and let the content speak for itself.

              Extra Credit I know well, and I think I've heard of Primitive Technology now that you describe it. I'll be sure to check both that and Captain Disillusion out, they sound like great channels.

      I think it's because so many of these YouTubers learned to self promote from other YouTubers. It creates this layer of recycled branding that instantly repels anyone who knows the tricks. After seeing that 'it's your boy, TurokLover20X6' opening I feel like I know their character inside and out. They might have tons of differences once I break through that layer but I'm never going to try because once I hear those tired phrases and forced character traits I'm out.

    "Hey dudes what's up" *fart noise*
    *infographic related to meme* "we just crushed this shit dudes" *boing* *person yelling* *fart noise* "MAKE SURE YOU HIT SUBSCRIBE YO"

    I'm only mid 20's and I cannot stand YouTubers and streamers. Hearing them or seeing them makes me shrivel into a ball. Giving the option to remove them seems like the best outcome for all.

    I think games journalists are inherently biased about how much you tubers and streamers are liked and recognised.
    As part of their job they have to know a lot of names and niche communities of games. To them these streamers are part of a journalist's every day life. But to a normal gamer most of the time a streamer personality is unknown so their sudden and weird inclusion is annoying.

      This factor becomes very obvious any time I see a games journalist trying to claim that 'games are mainstream now'.

      They're really, really not. It's like they think 'urban professionals 20-35 who socialize primarily through the Internet' is the mainstream because that's the group they're in. Same as Brexit, same as Trump, they can't conceive - let alone accept - just how big the opposing demographics are. Just how many grown-ass adults thing that games are a baffling, frivolous, alien world for kids... or adults who haven't 'grown up'.

        Demographically, the average gamer is 34 years old. Gradually the general thought of gaming is certainly starting to trend towards normalcy rather than a fringe thing. That being said, it is a generational thing. The older generation generally still thinks that games are for kids and adults that haven't grown up, because their generation doesn't generally understand gaming as the next generation does. It is just one of those things that is nigh impossible to change. Exceptions do exist of course.

        I'd disagree with your statement that games are not mainstream though. It does all depend on your perception of games though. For some people, mobile gaming isn't real gaming, which realistically, it is, just on a different format. It also again depends on generation. While older generations may not regularly play games, I'd confidently say that most people around the average gamer age (34), living in developed nations where accessibility to gaming platforms is not really an issue, play games with some sort of regularity, some of course more than others. Those that don't play games with regularity are less likely to think of games as something for kids (or adults that haven't grown up) due to the number of people in their own generation that do.

        Games aren't mainstream in my experience...although that said, I'm only exposed to a certain demographic around me, who don't appear to play many games.

        I'm an engineer in my late 20's, I work in an office with around 90 other engineers and scientists. Ages vary from early 20's to 60's. The older employees you generally expect wouldn't play games, but even among the younger generation I'm one of around 4-6 people that play games regularly.

        Fairly minor in that group and definitely not mainstream.

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