Twitch, YouTube and the rise of video game live streaming


I set up my play area with a comfortable chair and the camera well positioned. This is my first time showing a video of myself playing games online, but luckily I’m not going against the big stars of YouTube and Twitch this time around – no it’s NewTube, the fictitious streaming platform of The life of YouTubers 2, a new simulation game in which you play as a video content creator who climbs the online rankings to become the most famous influencer in town.

To those not originally from social media, this may seem like an incredibly postmodern, if not dystopian, gaming topic – aren’t influencer burnout stories heartbreaking enough without turning into a cutesy video game? But this is the world we live in: A 2019 survey showed that more than half of 2,000 Gen Z and Millennials surveyed want to be influencers. The game also underscores another new normal: the way video games have intertwined with video streaming over the past decade, with YouTube and Twitch having become so popular among gamers that they now wield influence across the board. industry.

The concept of watching games is nothing new, as anyone who grew up as a gamer’s younger brother can tell you. Despite the fact that the games’ unique appeal is their interactivity with players, they still have a lot to offer viewers, from exciting storylines to a bombardment of audiovisual stimulation. Still, when a massive audience started watching people play games on YouTube, I was stumped. As children we watched other people play games because we had no alternative. Now that we all have powerful gaming machines in our pockets and many games are playable for free, why would we just watch when we could play?

Let’s play: ‘Minecraft: Ya Dead, Ya Dead’

The first influential genre of game videos was known as ‘Let’s Play’, in which a gamer records himself playing a game, his face showing a picture in picture offering a humorous commentary on his misadventures. digital. I realized that on YouTube I could discover new games that I didn’t have the money to play or that I wasn’t sure I would buy. I got to see highly skilled players show off their expertise. It was calming, like watching Wimbledon on TV instead of playing tennis.

Such videos have spawned something much more sprawling: Twitch and video game live streaming. Here, players broadcast live, often over 60 hours per week. Live broadcasts tend to be shaggy and unpredictable, both monotonous and thrilling. They’re extremely popular – 45% of frequent gamers stream others, according to a recent study from Deloitte. They occupy the space in the lives of young people that television once occupied, but with the addictive DNA of social media: more niche, more personalized and more compelling.

The flagship of streaming is personality. Streamers tend to be expressive with childish, irreverent humor. Swedish Let’s Play-er PewDiePie has spent years as the most-subscribed title creator on YouTube and appears to be bulletproof: Despite several controversies surrounding the anti-Semitic discourse, it remains a staggering success and even has an appearance. in The life of YouTubers 2. A hack earlier this month revealed that the top streamers on Twitch are making millions of dollars a year. The platform’s sophisticated social features are a big reason for its success, cultivating tight-knit communities around streamers. These fans feel like streamers are their friends – imagine how much you might get attached if your favorite TV or radio hosts greeted you by name every time you tune in.

Digital Misadventures: ‘Grand Theft Auto’ via Let’s Play

The growing importance of Twitch and YouTube began to shape the industry. Popular titles like hello neighbor and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds owe much of their success to their adoption by the big YouTubers, making video streamers an important part of the industry’s marketing toolbox. Then there are games that are purposely designed to play well with Twitch: the Jackbox board games allow the audience to compete alongside the streamers, all the while looking like thugs Dead cells allows viewers to vote on the players’ next step and even control enemy behavior in-game. Twitch’s imaginative streamers have also used the platform to demarcate a space between the art of performance and the mass participatory entertainment, ranging from a classic game Pokemon played by thousands of people simultaneously to a user who turned his whole life into an interactive version of The sims.

As with all large online communities, Twitch has its fair share of controversies, including an inability to moderate toxic speech, a marked gender imbalance, and protracted legal battles with the music industry. Equally concerning are the physical demands placed on the streamers themselves, who work strenuous hours and put their entire lives online for scrutiny, even if only a fraction will succeed. I’ll keep watching them, but becoming a streamer doesn’t seem like it’s worth the sacrifice for me. The only success I’m likely to have is in the fictional world of The life of youtubers 2. There, Pablo de la Nuez, responsible for publishing the game tells me, I can feel “the thrill of hitting number one, of figuring out how to handle trends, quality content and editing – but unlike the in real life, players can be sure of success.

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