LOL, you’re twitching…

The gaming industry is the second fastest growing media segment in the world and is expected to reach 100 billion dollars by 2017. Online gaming it at the largest it has ever been and is increasing every day, as a result of this there has been a number of websites that have been developed in relation to gaming and created new platforms for gamers to communicate, educate and share their experiences with fellow gamers.

In this digital age the relationship between the institutions, the e-community and the audience are all essential to how a game is experienced and exerted into modern popular culture.

In League of Legends (LOL) gamers use different online mediums to connect with other players and show off their skills and approaches to playing the game. Websites such as Twitch TV become an opportunity for people with skill and ability to broadcast their accomplishments and provide a live feed of their progress throughout the game.

I found this concept most interesting and before embarking upon this subject and researching this topic I had completely no idea what Twitch TV even was- however it seems to be hugely popular, the total noob in me strikes once again!

These gamers use institutions such as Twitch TV as a public sphere to share their social narratives. The idea that people use exterior websites to watch other people playing a video game is completely foreign to me. Why would anyone do that? Are they doing it to get tips on how to improve their performance? Are they just being a busy body? What is the deal? Why?

On Twitch TV I found a Korean professional LOL player who used Twitch TV as a source of advertisement for his LOL skill. http://www.twitch.tv/soloqnewb. His name is ‘soloqnewb’ and he claims to be ranked 5×5, his tagline states ‘Learn from a pro, play as pro’

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 4.31.42 PM

Through this he draws audiences into his physical space providing them with a chatroom where they can contact him through instant message as well as providing them with the opportunity to see how he approaches the game, essentially giving a behind the scenes view to what is on his computer screen.

I feel like when you’re browsing on Twitch TV it’s almost as if you are looking from a different point of view. It feels very personal and like a secret inside look, almost like you are looking through the players eyes seeing exactly what they see on their screen – it’s almost creepy and feels like an over-share. Twitch TV creates an interactive platform and essentially is an amazing new media platform, which contributes to the cultural phenomenon of social media and exploring the way in which people interact with one another.

References:

Brightman James, ‘Mobile gaming to push industry above $100 billion by 2017’

14/01/2014, <http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-01-14-mobile-gaming-to-push-industry-above-USD100-billion-by-2017 >

Date Accessed: 28/08/2014

Russo Angelica, Watkins Jerry, Digital Cultural Communication: Enabling new media and cocreation in SouthEast Asia, Queensland University of Technology, Australia International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 2005, Vol. 1, Issue 4, pp. 417.

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7 comments

  1. I share your views of Twitch. I struggle to see why anyone would want to watch someone playing a game without just wanting to play the game themselves. Is it perhaps because the other person is playing the game to a level beyond their abilities? Or maybe because of the social aspect of it all? While I don’t entirely know, I think Twitch would be a very interesting platform to conduct an autoethnographic study on, because as you mentioned, it gives a very intimate view from the perspective of the player.

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  2. When reading this I immediately thought of the youtube channel rooster teeth that my brother literally watches religiously every. single. night! I can hear it from my room and it is the most annoying thing ever but every now and again he will be listening to a ‘lets play’ of the guys on the channel playing a video game and it can actually be fairly amusing! I imagine there would be a lot of judgements which go into watching a recorded gamer playing, judging their movements and choices, but also enjoying their success and achievements along with them without having to physically be there. Its a gamer thing, but i think I understand it. The fact that there is a whole platform basically dedicated to this gamer culture is awesome because I know it has become massive! Its exciting to see how internet culture is adapting to these gaming and social practices.

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  3. Twitch TV is definitely a service I would have never thought would exist. When I was growing up, the idea of discussing or watching people play games didn’t expand beyond watching/gaming with your friends. This culture has expanded ridiculously over the past few years and I for one, think it’s a good thing, it gives exposure to those niche areas of gaming which don’t get much screentime. What you said about the interaction of the institution, the e-community and the audience was really interesting. You should have a look into the Twitch plays… series – it expands on the relationship of these three groups.

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  4. Hi Emily,

    I enjoyed reading about TwitchTV because I too must be a ‘noob’ as you referred to it due to the fact that I didn’t know it existed. I am not an avid gamer though I am not at all surprised that the site is a existent. As you stated, the gaming industry is worth more than 100 million dollars and only expanding further. This means that there are many more people actively becoming involved in the field in many different ways. Communication between these individuals is completely expected and it sounds as if there is potential money to be made from this site itself. Advertising and providing a service through another site online is a great way to make some money, especially considering this man is doing something that he enjoys and merely sharing it with others!

    I am fascinated by these online worlds and the lives that people would prefer to live digitally, as opposed to experiences in the ‘real’ world. It’s the same with gaming for me, where I can’t fully grasp the idea of becoming another character to do things which aren’t possible in reality.

    I do think that TwitchTV clearly provides an in depth look into people’s online lives, which I suppose can be interpreted both negatively and positively. For those who are willing to share, then it is clearly their personal choice to broadcast this information and they are unconcerned. For me personally, I think I agree with you when you said it is an over share. I would actually be very interested in having a look at the site though, out of curiosity! So thanks!

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  5. I might be able to provide an insight as to why people watch people play games rather than play them, and it ties in more to regular sports than games themselves. As games have become more popular, with online play becoming prominent, it’s become more and more obvious that some people are almost unnaturally good at this. Almost the same as professional football. Many people love to play football but concede that they need to go to work and can’t spend their life practicing and becoming the best of the best. So they watch, they spectate and enjoy watching someone play well.

    If you’re interested in Twitch some of the best parts come from the viewers chat on the side of each stream. Each channel has it’s own in-jokes and community that surrounds the streamer. Joining one of these communities isn’t easy but it could be worth it for the ethnography we’re meant to do as well as checking out one of the more fun aspects of social gaming online.

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  6. I find that the main draw to watching people play games, particularly on Twitch and other real time platforms, is the same reason why people watch sports. It’s one part aspiration, one part awe and many parts the simple joy of being a part of a group of supporters.

    Watching someone farm perfectly in League of Legends or execute a perfect counterattack in StarCraft are much akin to the experience of seeing a footballer dribble past a slew of defenders and score or a cricketer hitting a six.

    A quick look in to TwitchTV will quickly show that the most viewed games are those that also have big tournaments, much like watching league games before the big tournament at the end in field sports. Esports followers love to watch their favourite players play, be it because they can learn from them, or simply just to see how well the game can be played. One of the biggest things that Twitch does, and many streamers get popular for is the ability to both commentate themselves and play at the same time. This amplifies all the reasons why people would watch the stream and is something that streamers have over physical athletes.

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  7. I love watching people play games online, whether it be on Twitch TV or on youtube. The reasons I watch them is because I am not rich enough to afford the game. However, I can watch someone else play it I can still learn about the game and have my own experiences with it. Sure I’d love to be able to play some of the games that are streamed, like DOTA or LoL but I’m not the greatest when it comes to playing these MOBA strategies. Watching people play also can help newbies learn to play the games they watch. I watch DOTA professionally on Twitch and I have picked up a thing or two about playing certain heroes I wouldn’t have learned if I tried to play the game.

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