Let’s not play: Interpassivity as resistance in ‘let’s play’ videos

Alex Gekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines contemporary practices of ‘idling’ (playing ‘idle games’) and ‘let’s playing’ (watching ‘Let’s Play’ [LP] videos of performed gameplay) as forms of power and resistance in the attention economy. Through the prism of interpassivity, a theory developed by Robert Pfaller and Slavoj Žižek, it establishes idling as relegating certain enjoyment from gameplay to the machine, while reproducing the anxieties associated with digital work as a whole. LPs, on the other hand, position the viewer as a critical analyst rather than a hands-on player. This vicarious experience of delegating play to others can allow avoidance and disengagement, which in turn may allow for a critical examination of the system as whole. As I will argue in this article, such interpassive practices can thus be seen as forms of resistance enabling users to step outside the controlling mechanism of digital media and the associated cybernetic feedback loops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-242
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Control
  • Digital labour
  • Gamification
  • Idle games
  • Interpassivity
  • Let’s play videos
  • Ludic resistance
  • Quantification


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