I’m a Video Game Watcher

I have always been okay with watching other people play video games. Sure, there are times when I’d like to be the one playing, but sometimes I’d just like to see the story without actually having to go through the ordeal of actually physically controlling the characters. Recently I’ve noticed myself watching a lot more games being played thanks to innovations like Twitch TV.

Thanks to sites like Giant Bomb, I rediscovered my love for watching games being played. In that particular case, it’s because the games that website covers are usually ones that are close to release. It is a nice way to see a game you might be interested in before spending those hard-earned space bucks. It also offers a different perspective from a written review. Some of us are just able to process the moving images and discussion that goes on throughout the video better than the written word. Though, in my case I need both.

Starcraft 2

Kind of a popular streaming choice.

Twitch TV is an interesting case because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of games being streamed online at any one time. If there is a popular game you want to watch being played, chances are someone is streaming it live. Some of the more popular games like League of Legends and Starcraft II can have thousands of people watching their streams. It doesn’t necessarily mean that thousands of people are watching one stream. Those thousands could be broken up over hundreds of streams, but it is extremely cool to have that many people watching others play games. The Twitch streams aren’t just for watching other people play games. There is a social element with the built in chat window that makes it possible to interact with other watchers as well as the streamers themselves.

Feats of Awesome

The other day I was browsing through the list of games being streamed and I came across someone playing Final Fantasy IX. This person had taken it upon himself to beat Final Fantasy 7-10 in 5 days and was streaming it all. Basically it was a speed run of each game. Well, at least the first 3, anyways. I watched him beat the final boss of Final Fantasy IX with 3 days left in the challenge and start Final Fantasy X. Now, I’m not one for speed runs (except for the original Super Mario Bros) so I was completely fascinated by this guy taking these huge games and getting through so quickly. I know there is a decent sized speed run community out there that is passionate about what they do, but I have never been exposed to this side of the gaming world. I never would have been without Twitch TV.

The guy made it to the dark world in 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES!!!

In fact, last night I watched someone speed run The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This dude got to the dark world in 30 minutes (I know this thanks to the handy little timer he had on his stream). I don’t think I’ve ever gotten from the start of the game through the first dungeon in 30 minutes!

Tough Crowd

Even though there are some great aspects to watching the streams on Twitch TV, there are some downsides for me. If I’m familiar with the game and the person isn’t talking, it’s not a huge deal. However, if I don’t know what’s going on, I appreciate a little commentary. It’s more entertaining for the audience as a whole as long as you know what the hell you are talking about. If you are just talking to talk I’m not going to watch your stream for very long. For example, the guy last night playing A Link to the Past. He barely said a word and when he did I couldn’t understand what he was saying. No big deal, because I was fascinated watching this guy blaze through the game without taking much damage. On the other hand, I was watching some DayZ being played and the guys on the server were talking about anything but what they were doing or planning to do in the game. Maybe that’s the nature of DayZ or I just found the wrong stream. I wanted more info about the game and it wasn’t being provided.

Another aspect of watching people play video games that drives me crazy is when I’m more familiar with the game than those playing it. I was watching a stream of  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and the guy playing it was representing an extremely well-known gaming website. However, the way he was playing was completely maddening.

This is what I kept thinking about the guy playing.

It was obvious that this guy had some experience playing Zelda II and yet he was playing like a fool. He was on the island maze trying to make it to the palace, which he did occasionally but would leave the palace every once in a while and walk around the maze. The thing is, he never fought anything in the maze. He would find the battle screens and either back right out of them or just run through them as quick as possible. Then, when he got the boots to walk on the water he hardly used them. Maddening!

The upside to his stream was the fact that he was interacting with the chat room…however they weren’t discussing the actual game being played. They were talking about other games, which is fine for the most part but the streamer was ignoring the people in the chat who were trying to help him get to where he was going. It just wasn’t a fun experience for me and I didn’t stay on the channel for long.

Like many other things, technology has changed the way people consume video games. The only way you were able to watch other people play games in the past was if you went over to their house and watched in person. Now, I can watch thousands of people play thousands of games I wouldn’t normally play from all over the world. While there are some downsides to watching a stream, for the most part I enjoy watching. It’s a good way to discover new games as well as answer questions you might have before making a purchase.

Of course, I must mention that Horrible Night has aTwitch TV channel. Though, admittedly I’m a little bit biased about our content even if our gamers even manage to drive me mad sometimes. However, if you’d like to check out all of Horrible Night’s video content you can watch live/archives on Twitch or our highlights on YouTube.


Giant Bomb (images)

3 Comments I’m a Video Game Watcher

  1. Dustin Sparks

    Ahh man, I couldn’t agree more. I pretty much always have a twitch window open and watch/listen to people play while I work. I joke around that this is what Ron Livingston actually had in mind when he asked the Occupational Hypnotherapist to ‘zonk him out’ and make him feel like he’s been [playing video games] all day. My favorite to watch are definitely those people who are very outgoing and put their webcam up too, its nice to see their facial reactions to some of the things that happen. My favorite stream right now is ManVsGame where he plays a lot of Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac, and Spelunky.

    I’ve actually started streaming myself, but I do so at work during lunch breaks and sporadic down time. The problem with doing this at work is even though you do it at break you still can’t really do any commentary. That kind of sucks, but its a trade off that I have to consider. Its also a bit of problem for my stream too, because I pretty much only stream indie games, some that people haven’t heard of before or at least never played. So I kind of fit into that worst case scenario of no commentary and unknown games. Luckily though, most of what I play is fairly self explanatory.

  2. Miashin

    I’m curious, though I know it’s been a while since this was posted, about what your opinion is on non-streams, like let’s plays, video guides, and the like?

  3. Dustin Sparks

    Personally, I like let’s plays and guides just as much as live streams. When I think about watching people play I don’t really discriminate too much when it comes to whether the video is live or not. I especially like going back and watching casts that I’ve seen live, but it’s not exclusive to that.

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