When it comes to video games I’m someone that plays better when people are watching. I enjoy the pressure and see my playing as a performance rather than just some guy trying to get a high score. Having an audience while playing video games used to be unavoidable…at the arcade or at home with friends, people were right there looking over your shoulder expecting a show. Even if I sucked and lost I wanted to at least put on a good show. Thankfully, it sounds like that will be a lot easier with the new Xbox and Playstation consoles, but does an audience matter when they’re not live and in your face?
The new spectator sport
The Xbox One promises easy livestreaming of your game playing with help from Twitch, the popular choice for screen streaming. I’ve spent some time watching games being played online and you can learn a lot from watching others play your favorite game. It’s great to see new methods, high scores and in some cases, the best in the world play. But I must admit that it kind of bums me out knowing that the person I’m watching is probably isolated in their room. Their teammates are probably someone else in the world and if anyone is watching them, the players themselves don’t get any feedback. Of course, maybe they don’t want any, and that’s fine, but I’d look for the complete opposite.
People watching changes the entire game. You are (obviously) very aware that people are right there and critiquing your play. They’re thinking they can do better…or they’re amazed by your skill and watch in awe. Either way, the pressure is on and you need to step up and perform. From casual chatter to whoops and hollars when the crowd is pleased, it all goes into the experience. And that’s kind of the best thing, the game becomes an experience for everyone involved, not just the players.
One of the first “spectator games” I remember being taken by was Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). Here was a giant game that asks you to “dance” and get a high score. It was hard to not have an audience when you’re stomping around like you’re killing a floor covered in bugs. And DDR simply kicked off the wave of performance music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Sure, you can play alone and have fun but nothing beats having a room full of people when you’re rockin’ out, whether they’re playing with you or just watching.
Play like there’s a crowd
Even if I’m streaming my game for the world to watch online, without that tangible feedback I think it would be hard to amp up my game. Livestreaming your gaming is more like good old fashioned radio…it’s broadcasting live but you have no idea if people are listening, so by all rights you need to be the best you can be all the time. I suppose that has its effects on a person but I would get lazy very quickly and return to my non-performing play style, which doesn’t help anyone – me or a spectator.
The livestreaming of video games is something that really interests me, even if just from a spectator point of view. My video game time has been minimal as of late so if I can vicariously live through someone else via livestreaming, then so be. Plus livestreaming will give people a view into games they might not otherwise be playing. My own set of video games is pretty narrow so watching others play will help tell me if the game is one I want to play.
When I finally decide to jump into the next gen of consoles, you can bet I’ll be streaming my game playing. Even though there won’t be anyone cheering me on when I pull off an amazing move (or when I miss), livestreaming is the best option right now and probably for the foreseeable future. Livestreaming gives you the potential for a much larger audience but I still think playing live in front of other people is better and will result in a better performance from the gamer, but I guess a virtual crowd is next best thing.