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Why watch others play video games?

Watching someone play? Why not just play the game yourself!?

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Do you have relatives who watch K-Dramas all day but then turn around and criticise you for watching gaming videos? There's a whole group of people out there who don't understand why anyone would watch someone else play a video game. Just have a look at this old report from the BBC. Many still feel this way:

Who would want to watch teenagers just clicking away playing their video games all night?

Jim Reed, Newsnight, 2014

We are accused of wasting our time, and advised to pick up more meaningful hobbies instead, but this is our hobby. It's unfair to criticise us for our love of watching gaming content creators because so much video content out there is basically the same thing, just minus the social stigma.

No one questions watching people do other activities

It's odd that watching other people do almost any other activity is so readily socially accepted. So, watching people play video games is just like watching people do anything else:

Bob Ross Painting
Bob Ross

And although world famous and popular television painter Bob Ross exudes an air of calmness in his instructional programme, very few people paint along with him. They just watch for the soothing atmosphere and to relax after a hard day's work.

Great British Baking
Great British Bake Off

Likewise a renowned baking TV series. It's a competition, but essentially, you're just watching other people bake. No one asks "why not just bake yourself?" I bet your mom or dad has no issues watching other people cook.

Sports!
FIFA

Of course, the obvious and most used comparison — physical sports. It's a global sensation, watching the sport of choice, whether it's football, badminton, gymnastics or sepak takraw. People spend countless hours watching other people play sports. Try asking them, "Why are you watching other people play? Just go and play it yourself".

So, why do we watch others play video games?

The same reasons can be applied to why we watch people part take in any activity! They do things we can't for ourselves and we find comfort and satisfaction in watching people engage in things that interest us. Call it living vicariously! I categorise it into 3 elements:

1. Spectacle
Overwatch Ashe

It's the thing you go to a circus for and also the reason why you watch epic films in the cinema - to see something that you're unable to pull off yourself. Many gaming streamers and video makers are playing the games at a level we can't manage and that's impressive to witness. Whether it's watching a pro hit headshot after headshot, or a city-building master craft the most perfectly balanced and beautiful city, we appreciate skills and sometimes, even venerate it as an art form.

One example of a pro who displays skill is Facebook streamer Soloz. He plays games and he plays them well, which can be amazing to watch. You can find his channel here: facebook.com/BossSoloz

2. Education
Youtubers Life

This could be learning about the games you're watching, for example, watching people play Dota 2, so that you can learn how to be better. Besides that, the hosts and people making the videos can teach you things, too. Sometimes they tell stories or share life lessons, like how Bob Ross does when he paints. Gamers are people too, and everyone has something to share.

An educational gamer that you can check out is Chii. He tends to exude a zen-like calmness and enjoys explaining and showing off things in detail. You can check out his channel here: facebook.com/afiqafz
3. Entertainment
No Straight Roads

Finally, the biggest misconception about watching gaming content is why anyone would be entertained by watching someone else play. However, being 'the watcher' of video games goes back to any household, with siblings wanting to play the same single-player game. They both want to play Final Fantasy VII, but it's not co-op or multiplayer, so you take turns (or not), where one has to watch the other play through the story. We can have fun and be engaged watching someone else play through our favourite game for the first time, reliving our own memories, or joining them in discovering a brand new game and seeing them share their reactions. Adding to the fun is how hosts tell us jokes, make funny observations and hook us in with their own storytelling.

And of course, an example of an entertainment-focused gaming content creator is Siputttt Gaming. He leans on the silly and fun side of things and you can drop by his channel here: facebook.com/SiputtttGaming

So stop being so judgemental!

If you're reading this article, you probably don't need to be told why people enjoy watching others play video games, though you can use it as a resource to tell people who judge us unfairly - those who think us 'watchers' are dumb, nonsensical or time-wasters. We watch gaming streamers and content creators because we find enjoyment in it and there's nothing wrong with that. Anyone who judges you for it, well, that says a lot more about them than you.

Let people enjoy what they do.

Why do you watch other people play video games? Let us know in the comments!


GamerZakh is a Malaysian gaming YouTuber, Twitch streamer and content creator. He approaches gaming from a nostalgic perspective and always tries to incorporate educational elements into his delivery of entertainment. You can find his YouTube channel here.

This is a guest post and the views expressed here are the author's own.

AUTHOR

GZ "GamerZakh"

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