I think a lot of the older generation has a hard time following up with the younger generation’s obsession with videogames. Videogames themselves make sense enough; they engage you into the entertainment by providing a level of interaction. It’s the derivatives, such as streaming or “let’s play”s, that can be difficult to wrap the brain around. This post intends to go over some of these derivatives, which I’ll refer to as “social gaming”.
Firstly, it’s important to note that there are many derivatives to videogame entertainment, and social gaming only covers the streaming/video side of things. Esports is also a derivative, but it won’t be covered (it also makes, in my opinion, a lot more intuitive sense than social gaming; there is a very clear competitive aspect around the whole thing which makes it not too much different of a viewing experience as to something like football or basketball). Social gaming refers to the viewing of someone else playing a game for solely entertainment purposes, thus taking the viewer out of the interaction bit of things. So, why is this so damn popular?
There’s a couple of reasons. The first one is that often the viewers aren’t watching for the game itself, but rather the value-add; the person playing. Most big-name gaming streamers and YouTubers have a level of comedy and charisma that adds to what would simply be just footage of the game. Alright, fair enough; but not all social gaming has this. In fact, some of the biggest names back in the day involved themselves as little as possible. So what’s with those?
To understand these videos, you have to understand their two distinct audiences. The first one is people who are watching the videos for instructional value. Videogames, as it happens, can be difficult; oftentimes people we’ll need assistance beating them. And so, you can watch a playthrough of the game on the internet and understand what’s supposed to be done. This side of the audience is people who own the game who simply need help. The second audience is people who would like to play the game, but otherwise cannot. Whether it be financial difficulties or overly strict parents, some people need an alternate way of experiencing the game, and find that the best option is with social gaming.
One final note: that being on the future of social gaming. Website algorithms and new audiences have harmed the followings of these social gamers for sure, but there’s still a very concrete audience for this type of stuff. I’ll say that, despite how strange social gaming may be on a surface level, it likely will continue to grow as more and more people become attached to gaming as a whole.
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