Gaming has grown immensely since Pong back in the 1970’s. Consoles have come out that are essentially home theatre systems and computers can now be built so you can watch your favorite movie, play the latest 4K game, all while your PC doubles as a fish tank. Seriously, that’s a thing.
Before we dive any deeper, let’s go back to Pong in the 1970’s. If you were at the arcade and you were dominating the sticks, people were watching you play with their jaw dropped. If you were lucky enough to have a home system, chances are that your friends would come over and lick their chops at the chance to play or would watch you for hours on end (sharing is caring, though).
The point is that people have watched others play video games for the longest while. It’s not a foreign concept, yet, when trying to explain Twitch to someone outside of the gaming world, nobody quite understands the allure of watching someone play video games.
Twitch.tv, originally Justin.tv, was created by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt in 2007 as a platform to allow anyone to broadcast video online. Fast forward four years and Twitch.tv was born as a streaming platform. Since then, Amazon purchased Twitch and the platform has become a staple in the gaming world.
Selling people on the fact that watching people play video games is fun a hard one. Why watch when you can play the game instead?
It’s simple. See that outrageously priced new video game? It’s on the shelf for $69.99 (and that’s just the basic version). How do you know you’re going to enjoy it that much? How do you really know what the game is like? Sure, you’ve watched a handful of trailers and you’ve read up on every single aspect of the game. Heck, you can call yourself an expert on the game. Remember Titanfall when it originally came out? Everyone said it was going to be the greatest game ever. Many went to the stores and purchased the game before even seeing what actual gameplay was like for the average gamer. Long story short, the game wasn’t nearly as successful as many thought it was going to be and many were upset with their investment.
Enter Twitch. Instead of running to the store to buy the game immediately, why not watch a person like you or me play the game? Maybe the previews and everything you read was a bunch of hooey. Once you really see what the game is like, maybe you don’t really want to spend the equivalent of nearly 35 burgers from McDonalds on a video game you won’t really enjoy.
Twitch is more than just a place to check out new video games. Twitch prides itself on community. Personally, some of the best people I’ve met in the gaming industry have been built around relationships on Twitch (Special shout out for the folks over at SetToDestroyX). You’ll be considered a “lurker” first. You’ll sit in the stream and not say anything. Think of it as a trial period. You’ll see how the streamer interacts with the community and then decide whether or not you want to be a part of it. You’ll meet some fantastic people who often share the same interests as you.
Twitch is also an entertainment paradise. Some people lure watchers into their stream based on their toxicity (Tyler1), others bring viewers into their stream because of the laughs they bring (TimTheTatman), while other streamers are former esports pros that bring a competitive edge to the stream while being entertaining for his/her fans (Summit1g).
You also don’t have to be into gaming to enjoy the other things Twitch can do. Twitch has both a “Creative” and “IRL” section where you’ll often find musicians, singers, artists, and even chefs showing off their craft. Yep, if you want to learn how to cook – you can go on Twitch.
The concept of watching someone play video games has been around forever. You’re watching because you’re getting something out of it.
Twitch can be whatever you want it to be. That’s the beauty of the platform. If you want to watch someone funny because you’re having a bad day? Go ahead. Is there a game that’s out that you’re unsure about? Head to Twitch. Want to chat with like-minded folks? Twitch is for you.
Whatever you want Twitch to be, it can be exactly that. Twitch is both your best friend and the best tool you’ll ever use in the gaming world.