Social Gaming

 

Bt Daniel Portales

There’s a really odd phenomenon going on today in regards to video game interaction. Gamers and even non gamers alike are spending just as much time, if not more, watching people play video games as opposed to actually playing them. Decades ago in the 80s and 90s, people would only watch people play games in certain contexts. For example, when waiting for someone to get a game over at the arcade so that you could play next. Or when your siblings are hogging the game console at home and you have no choice but to wait your turn. Or perhaps just getting stuck in a particularly difficult game, and you need to watch an experienced player show you the ropes.

Nowadays, a lot of gamers both old and young, choose to watch other people play games despite having free time or even their own games they can play. Of course most people can’t help but ask the question why. A common response to that question would be, “The same reason people watch other people splay sports or something like poker.” and there’s some truth to that. Especially with competitive games like Overwatch or Fighting games.

Fighting Game Tournament Example 

Overwatch Tournament

But I think people also fail to see other reasons to watch someone play a game, such as the simple reason that they can’t. Either because they don’t have the money to pay for a brand new $60 video game. Or even a new $300-$500 console to play games on. Gaming PCs can even be in the price range of the $1000s. It’s a great alternative to see how a game plays and see what it has in store. Some people simply aren’t that great at video games and simply want to watch a game’s story.

And in a lot of cases, they simply enjoy a funny or charming personality play some of their favorite games.

Gameplay Comedians “Game Grumps”

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What most gamers will also claim to be their reason for watching games is to gauge whether or not they want to play a game that they are interested in. Since gaming has become such an expensive hobby, its natural to be a little hesitant to buy certain games, and watching gameplay videos online remedies that.

However, many gaming companies, most notably one of the most iconic gaming company out there Nintendo, sees this phenomenon as a hindrance to their business model. They feel they lose potential customers who see most or all of their game’s stories or game play mechanics straight away. Or in cases where they release a game that has intrinsic flaws that the streamers point out, which would lead to curious gamers to turn down buying said game. This would lead to the point of requesting any footage or streams online of their games to be removed completely. However, I think it’s worth noting that these gameplay videos or streams make for amazing advertisement as well. Showing how good a video game can be when played a certain way, or really showing off a game’s good aspects that a simply trailer can’t do. And depending on who’s sharing the gameplay and their popularity, it would lead to an otherwise unknown developer or game franchise to get a lot of recognition they otherwise wouldn’t get. Such as the really small developer’s game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” exploding in popularity when played by popular Youtuber, “Marikiplier.”

Marikiplier’s video with over 50 million views

Developers are somewhat noticing the benefits of this trend by implementing simple streaming services within their new consoles themselves. But put limits on what can and can’t be streamed, while other companies like Nintendo, simply takes off most newer game footage completely and refuses to add streaming services at all.

These limits or outright prevention of streaming or recording gameplay footage is rather disappointing to say the least, with what I feel developers, particularly Nintendo, is missing out on. But hopefully the trend will continue to grow and maybe spread the new gameplay medium out even of the same levels as typical sports.

 

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism