What is your opinion on the practice of watching other people play video games?

I’ve heard this brought up in different lights from different sources, from praise to ridicule. There is definitely a market for services that allow people to record or stream videos of themselves playing video games for other people to watch. The entire twitch.tv website relies on this, and I believe it currently forms the backbone of Youtube’s largest subscriber bases.

Whether or not you personally even like or play video games, do you think other people can derive enjoyment from it, or do you think it sounds utterly boring, dull or simple?

Most of the arguments against it that I’ve heard bring up these sorts of thoughts- that watching someone else play a game is silly and that it should be laughed at.

I’d like to offer a few points as to why people can enjoy it though. There are different types of video games, and many different ways to present them in a video. A large subset of viewers of video game videos watch because there is a sharp skill difference- in many ways it’s similar to watching football (American or otherwise) on television- you watch for the excitement and to see the top players competing with each other. We watch to see the skill, often because it exceeds our own or because we want to learn ourselves.

The next set of viewers are likely the ones that view for entertainment- the video game provides a setting and drives the actions of the player, but the enjoyment is derived from the ways the player acts and talks, interacting with the game such as making jokes, talking to characters, or in some cases, creating something unique. Many games offer different ways to play with many creative outlets, such as city building, strategy or creative games, and many people enjoy watching someone who can create something unique and interesting to watch.

I believe most people who enjoy watching other people play video games do so because they enjoy the personality and skill of the player, the game itself is secondary.

Of course people can derive enjoyment from it, or there wouldn’t be the market you described not one paragraph earlier. People undoubtedly like to watch, be it for the display of skill, to determine if they like the game enough to buy, for the comedy some players provide, or to vicariously live through someone else’s game because they either lack the money or skills to do it themselves.

There really isn’t anything else to say about it on that front. People like it. It makes enough money for players to make a full-time job out of it. It is undoubtedly successful and enjoyed.

Now, for an actual topic, we should discuss the legal ramifications of broadcasting copyrighted content and if Nintendo’s new LP contract is out of line. (Nintendo’s latest “You can LP, but only on our terms” contract is loosely worded enough to be able to interpret it as: they get a cut of your entire channel’s ad sales if you have even one Nintendo LP video on your channel).

I think your football analogy is a bit off, in that I think watching people play video games is like watching people watch football. But then, I also thought watching people watch movies while making fun of the movies was stupid (MST3K), as I’d rather just watch the movie and make my own jokes. Obviously YMMV.

Right, there’s certainly a business for broadcasting video game content, but I think I should have phrased the question better.

I’ll use certain [American] television shows as an example, such as Big Brother or Jersey Shore (that isn’t on anymore, right?)

The shows were popular, but I think a large number of people thought it was “drivel”, or unintelligent and mindless.

This will be an interesting question, and I think the law could go either way.

I hope it will go the way that says that broadcasting the playing of a game is fair use, not a derivative work. I don’t think the vast majority of people watching a stream do so as a substitute for the game the way that, say, an audiobook is a substitute for reading the book. It’s a complement to get more into the culture of the game.

On the other hand, I could see this strategy getting defeated in the marketplace, too. Companies that embrace streaming video and don’t try to monetize it directly will see more interest in their games. Companies that try to clamp down on it will get some serious PR backlash. Perhaps.

The only thing I know about watching video games played on YouTube is my nephew, currently nine years old. He watches game plays of things he doesn’t own, many of which are rated too mature for him. Since they don’t contain nudity, YouTube doesn’t block them. He will literally spend hours watching them.

This might be a large part of the subscriber base for these videos. If you’re too young/poor/whatever, you can still watch a video and then be part of the “in crowd” at school when the other kids are talking about it.

I think it’s fine. Not my thing but whatever. I mean, I will absolutely think less of you for doing it, much like I’d think less of you for watching: Housewives of Blah, Days of Our Lives, Duck Dynasty, Sister Wives, etc. It is what it is.

One thing I hate, however, is when you try to compare it to watching professional ______. Yeah, it’s just entertainment, but world class athletes basically devote their lives to it. Pro gamers are just dude(tte)s with too much free time and shitty parents. (I say this as a gamer.) The barrier to entry is not all that high compared to, say, getting into the US Open, becoming a Chess Grandmaster, NFL Quarterback, lead guitarist, or whatever else.

Watching Starcraft or CS tournaments is like watching football. But those usually have commentators, the comparison is apt.

Watching a let’s play video of a game you’re considering buying is just like reading a review. That makes perfect sense.

Other than that, I’ve watched a handful of video gamers on youtube, for this scenario: I want to appreciate the art and effort that went into a game that’s getting lots of buzz, but I don’t want to invest the time into getting good at the game myself. It’s really not too far off from dracoi’s quip about the “in” crowd. I’m old and time is short, I don’t want to invest 25 hours of my life into beating Witcher 3, or figuring out the hand-to-hand combat controls for Mad Max. I’d much rather spend an hour watching some other guy or gal play.

But some games are fun because of the mechanics (watching videos of Rocket League is dull, I’m dying to play it but I don’t have a PS4) and some games are fun because of the spectacle of it all. I’m fine watching videos for the latter and saving time. But I may watch an hour of Mad Max gameplay and be good to go, I’m not sure who these people are who watch hours of TwitchTV every day. Or if those people exist.

I’d play sports and I’d play games, but generally I have no interest in watching anyone do either of these. If you have the time to watch, why not just do the real thing and get the full enjoyment of the thing?

I think the only reasons that watching sports is popular are:

  1. Nostalgia from doing it as a kid, with your folks.
  2. Often, there’s nothing else to do in a bar but watch the TV (which is generally showing sports) and consequently, it’s often the only thing around to spur conversation. But that makes sports a central hub of socializing and (if we are honest) getting sex. So it’s going to get paired with the pleasure centers of your brain, as a byway of other things.
  3. The push-your-luck, gambling spirit. Sports are like the giant version of games like Yahtzee or Zombie Dice. People want to see how long a run of good run will last, and they get excited by seeing it pushed to its limit.

All of those could be swapped out with watching people play video games. Or Yahtzee.

It sort of depends on what context. I enjoy watching tutorials of “sandbox” games like Minecraft, Space Engineers or city builders, just to see what other people built.
I also used to enjoy watching some of videos people would make of the open-world zombie sandbox game DayZ. But the nature of that game lends itself to more of a story format. Especially if the producer is entertaining and it’s edited together well.
But generally, yeah, watching someone play videogames is pretty damn boring.
And no, it’s not like watching sports. Another reason people like watching sports is to watch people perform amazing feats of athleticism. What are you going to see watching someone play StarCraft? The same amazing Zerg rush you see in every game?

Not sure ‘lead guitarist’ belongs in that list. That’s something pretty much anyone can do with a few years serious practice. I’d say the skill level of pro-gamer and pro-guitarist are pretty comparable. At least with the gamer, proficiency is objectively measurable.

Everyone’s covered it pretty well, but another reason I’d toss in there is that you get to watch people play games you don’t own. In some cases, that’s a great way to learn about a game and see if you would like to buy it.

To expand on what others have said, there are some YouTube or Twitch celebrities that have characteristic, entertaining mannerisms that can be fun to watch. Spend enough time viewing them and you get ingrained in the channel-only lingo and memes; soon enough, you’ll find yourself a member of a community tied by one common thread: the streamer or game player. At that point, it goes beyond just watching someone—you’re part of a group.

ETA: In terms of skillful or pro play, that’s usually not the case. Some streamers are great players, to be sure, but the top players of competitive games (e.g., Starcraft) are better seen in commentated tournament play.

Do I think other people can? Of course. Personally I would rather watch grass grow. But then again I do some things other people would find watching horribly dull; like hand-hammering out silver coins and making them into jewelry. Want to watch 70 hours of a pair of earrings being made? Didn’t think so. :slight_smile:

It’s been analyzed berry well in this thread already, but I want to say that I’m one of them that loves watching people play video games.

I never minded watching my brother play when I was younger, and then really realized I liked watching people play when my roommate would play old Nintendo RPGs (Dragon Quest, Shadow of someone or other) and I just enjoyed helping with strategy or just joking around with it.

Now I watch TFS Gaming (Team Four Star) play games. It’s like playing a game without actually having to play it

Back when I used to go to video arcades, it was pretty common to have a crowd stand around watching people playing fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. I’d rather watch someone else lose a quarter playing head-to-head than lose my own money getting smacked down.

I’ve never felt older. :frowning:

I watched an entire Let’s Play series covering the complete Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game, even though I have it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So.

It depends on the video game. I used to watch my friend and her brother play Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros all the time and enjoyed it. I find watching my brother play his games boring. I don’t even know what he plays, it just has a lot of explosions, and gets in the way of my enjoying Jefferson Starship.

Off to the Game Room.

I used to laugh at a friend who watches others play video games. Then this past weekend I listened to the Film Sack podcast while watching an old Macgyver episode they were critiquing . It was hilarious.