Sep 232015
 

DDO on Twitch TV
It is great that there are so many DDO streams! But … why does anybody watch them?

[Warning] I am particularly unfocused this morning and the following is extra ramble-y. There are some valid thoughts in here, I think, but you are going to have to work harder than usual to find them. Good luck, you have been warned!

Yesterday I was loitering in the DDO Chat channel when someone mentioned a stream that they were making or viewing or streaming or … I forget, I didn’t take notes, I wasn’t intending for any of this to become a DDOGamer topic. But anyway, someone said “streaming” and it prompted me to ask what the whole streaming thing is all about.

Because streaming is not playing the game. It is watching other people play the game. Why would you do that? If you have the available time, and you have the bandwidth, why not actually play? Why use that time to watch others play?

I could understand if the people doing the streaming were super famous and entertaining. Entertainment comes in many forms, and a gaming stream seems as valid of a medium as any. For instance, I would probably watch Louis CK play DDO. Or Steve Martin. Or Amy Schumer.

But that is not what generally happens. Instead, anybody streams, just anybody, nobody, and people watch. Why?

So I asked. And was flooded with answers. Again, I have no notes, I didn’t realize that the chat conversation was going to be a topic until just now when I started writing. I am going to have to paraphrase what was said from memory, and I may fail to properly attribute a statement to a chatter.

My apologies to the good peoples of DDOChat.com, and I encourage anyone who remembers better to correct me in the comments section below.

With that important caveat out of the way, time to dive into the topic. Why stream? Why watch a stream?

Turbine developer Vargouille responds first, offering to explain what streaming is as well as why to do it. I already know what it is, and want to focus on the why.

Vargouille has several reasons, but I can only remember the ones that I understood. Mainly, that streaming is a great way for a game publisher to show off their wares. And that does make sense, even to me. In fact, I’ve actually watched my one and only stream ever under those exact circumstances, back when I was a DDOCast co-host and Turbine gave us a preview tour of the Shadowfell expansion pack content.

Vargouille also pointed out that there is a live aspect to streaming; if you are watching when the stream is live (as opposed to watching later when it is just a recording), you have the opportunity to interact with the streamers. Live chat. And as Vargouille reminded me, some people find direct access to game developers to be appealing.

Which is a valid point. Vargouille made his statement with wit and humility, but it is a fact that game developers are sometimes seen as a form of rock star (even regular programmers get that sometimes. Even me, once, but that is a story for another day). Streaming makes sense to me when the streamers are famous, and if you are a fan of a game than the developers of the game probably fall into that category.

Does anyone who is truly famous have a stream? Or is just pseudo-sort of-famous people like game developers? Regardless, we now have two reasons for streaming:

  • Reason to stream: marketing. Reason to watch: you are following the game
  • Reason to stream: you are famous. Reason to watch: you are a fan of the famous person(s)

Vargouille gave another reason in that he watches people solo Epic Elite content. Soloing on EE is not something he wants to do for himself, but he wants to see how others do. He has a vested interest in this, obviously, and unlike most of us, he can do it at work, as part of his job, and get paid for it. Yet still, a valid reason.

  • Reason to stream: showing off your hard-won EE soloing skills. Reason to watch: you are paid to do professional research

Someone (and I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten who) pointed out that you can make money streaming, or even get sponsored. They posted one particular stream (http://www.twitch.tv/beckiesweckers) as an example of someone who started out just streaming and ended up making money from it. So I clicked over.

A hot girl. Okay, I get that one too. I haven’t watched her stream (or for that matter, anyone’s), so maybe I am being unfair here, but hot girls have been making money on the internet for a long time in a lot of ways. Maybe she is the most erudite and humorous gamer in history. But whether she is or not, boobs are a perfectly valid reason to stream and to watch a stream.

  • Reason to stream: angling for donations. Reason to watch: boobs + a chance to chat with a hot girl

Someone else, I think Ague(?) said that he watched streams in order to learn techniques and improve as a player. That makes sense to me, not because I would do that myself (I am just too casual to care to spend time honing my game like that) but at least I can see why others might.

Maybe if I was a professional player? Or trying to become one? Clearly this doesn’t explain DDO streams, no one is ever going to be a professional DDO player. But professional gamers do exist, and I can seem them watching specific streams for the same reason that professional athletes spend so much time watching performance video.

Although now that I think about it, if you are a pro player, why would you share your best secrets with your competition? Or maybe this is how you intend to become a professional player? By showing off your mad skilz on Twitch? Does that work?

I’m going to list this one with a question mark:

  • Reason to stream: trying to become a professional player? Reason to watch: trying to become a better player

Ague (and this time I am certain it was Ague) also mentioned that he watches DDO streams while he is playing DDO. Both at the same time. This is someone who is truly a fan of the game. Playing and watching. Okay, if you want to thoroughly surround yourself with DDO, I can imagine no better way.

Although that does not explain why the streams exist in the first place. I imagine it must be because hard-core DDO players like Ague will watch them.

  • Reason to stream: people will watch it? Reason to watch: you want total DDO immersion

I learned lots of reasons to stream or to watch a stream. More than that, streaming is officially a BIG DEAL. After all, Google paid $1Billion for Twitch TV. One billion! Like one million except a thousand times more. A billion dollars. So there must be something to it.

And still I remain unconvinced.

Would I stream? Maybe, if I was playing with super-entertaining people or as part of a guest appearance on DDOCast or something. But probably not if it was just me. I’d want to script the whole thing first to ensure I was actually being funny and entertaining properly fooling myself into believing I was being funny.

Would I watch a stream? I do not want to become a professional DDO player. I am not awed by the presence of Turbine developers (not that they are not awesome, they are). I am not doing professional research. I can only become so good at DDO, I have limited buttoneering potential; no amount of watching others play will improve my basic lack of hand-eye coordination.

So … no. Most likely. But I could be persuaded.

Persuade me! Tell me which streams you watch, and why. Make me want to watch!

You have the entire comments section to make your case.

Ready? Go!

🙂 😀 🙂

  18 Responses to “Twitching and Streaming: Why? Why Not Just Play?”

Comments (18)
  1. I tend to watch streams when I’m working. And when I say ‘watch’ it’s more like listen. Background noise rather than music.

    If I’m at home I play instead 😀

    • I was going to say the exact same thing. I tend to “listen” to the streams when I’m at work or as background noise when I’m actually in game. I also do this with the various podcasts as wells.

  2. Okay, I will come out and confess I am a Twitch addict.
    Note that in general I am a viewer/lurker, only during Minion Monday (every Monday at 4pm EST on http://www.twitch.tv/ddostream) I am part of the streamer (playing in the static group that is being streamed/hosted by one of my fellow Minions)

    I think it started about 2 (?) years ago with me watching fellow Minion Illarvan, he streamed a lot of DDO and I liked to watch him play, hang out in his chatroom and, here comes the major part of most viewers on Twitch streams, interact with the streamer LIVE and DIRECTLY. I was involved in something, part of a community.

    And I think that is the main reason for any streamer and viewer, being part of a community and having the ability to LIVE interact with other people. I type something in chat and the streamer responds to it. Or the other way around, where the streamer is talking and chat responds to it. Eventually it all comes down to the community around the stream. Is the streamer funny/knowledgeable/informative/fill-in-your-standard and do I like what I see and hear.

    The question you Geoff, would ask me is: Why do I watch these folks streaming and playing games?
    For me it is the same as listening to radio or watching tv, it’s a fun (once you’ve found the streamers you like) time sinker. I do play DDO myself, but over the 6 years that I play DDO I learned that I need my total focus on it. Being a working mother and wife with a volunteer job besides all that I don’t have much time where I can sit down and totally ignore my surroundings to completely focus on the game. Twitch.tv allows me the gaming aspect by watching games (DDO but many other games as well) while I can still focus on my surroundings. I make dinner, I do the laundry, I help my kids when they need me. Twitchers call that lurking: watching and listening in a passive way. Similar to having a radio on in the background, or a tv while doing house stuff.
    Some streams are so good where I just sit down and watch and interact, having a good time, enjoying the community. Like watching a tv serie or show. Why would anyone watch tv?? Because they enjoy it. And what I feel that Twitch has over tv, is the actively participating and interaction between viewers and streamers.

    I am following 54 people on twitch, not all of them are actual streamers. Like Grimorde for example, I follow her for friendship reasons but she doesn’t stream. But there is a group of steady streamers I watch regularly, like Ellohime, Cohhcarnage, Giantwaffle and of course DDOstream.
    The first 3 are, what I call, big streamers (not the biggest but well established) with viewers between 2k-7k every stream. They have created a community around themselves where people feel connected. And they earn a living out of being a Twitch streamer. By having a large number of subscribers to their channel and by receiving donations. And those large streamers make good money, trust me. It’s a business for them.

    Alas, this turned out to be a long post so I’ll leave it at this. If you’d like to have a more in-depth discussion about it, feel free to contact me!

  3. Like Grimorde said, I watch (or maybe just listen) when i’m at work and I can’t play. Also fun to interact with other players that are on other server than mine. I can’t interact in-game with them, unless one of us change its server… But nobody comes to Orien! And Orien is my home! lol

  4. That’s the way I look at it aswell, I do often have the wed stream with cordovan on but I think that’s more about getting new info on the game, hearing what’s coming next etc.

    I like progressing my characters not watching someone else progress theirs

  5. Wow! Ramble on, my wayward son!!!

    I started using Twitch after DDOplayers asked if I had tried it with Gamer Child. I enjoy it while I am working. I work at home so I can have it active on my tablet. I have enjoyed watching Cordovan playing on different servers. He chats with people and answers game questions in the chat.

    We have streamed live with Gamer Child. She thinks it is awesome. She is from the age group that watches people play games all the time. YouTube streams. She looks to the these gamers like rock stars! So to stream her own game live is a highlight to her day.

  6. This whole thing is TLDR (I’ll read it all later, I hope I haven’t offended anyone), but I agree with the premise in the title, I prefer to play than watch. This extends to so called “real” sports in the so called “real” world … I make exceptions when friends and alcohol are involved, but other than that I prefer to participate 😀

  7. I find this similar to the question of Lets Plays. I enjoy lets plays. In fact, if you look at my youtube profile, it accounts for a little under 35% of the channels I’m subscribed to. As you asked, why watch some one else play a game, when you could be playing the game yourself?

    1) Watching someone play a game I have not, may influence if I play that game or not. If someone who has some level of journalistic ethics is playing something and seems to enjoy it, then I’m more likely to invest in it myself. See your own article on how companies try to take advantage of that trust.

    2) Watching someone play something I have is amusing (and frustrating, and enlightening, and so on) because I am getting to see them experience the same highs and lows I did. Since most of people I watch game far more than I do, watching them excel where I failed, shows their experience, them failing where I did consoles me, and them failing where I succeeded makes me feel even better about myself.

    3) It is interesting to see their reactions. A lot of streamers and Lets Play gamers that I watch are genuinely amusing people. Simply look up Markiplier’s “Five Nights at Freddy’s Reaction Compilation” for one of the more realistic and animated examples.

    4) It is interesting to watch their level of skill. This plays heavily into reason 2, but doesn’t require that I have played the game. I recently watched the Scary Game Squad’s play through of a QTE heavy horror game, and the guy actually at the controls missed one or two the entire game. I was thoroughly impressed, as while those are not engaging gameplay, they are often hard. It’s akin to watching the guy score perfect on DDR at the arcade. Also, by watching a genuinely good gamer, I get to see content I would often miss without a guide.

    5) Watching someone else play adds an extra layer between myself and the game. I do not enjoy scary games. I don’t like scary movies. I avoid haunted houses even. However, by watching the game, filtered through the lens of the humor of their reactions, I enjoy the experience.

  8. I tend to watch them when I don’t feel like playing. Or just want to relax. It’s basically a better form of standard TV programming to me. Saying why don’t you play the game instead of watching someone else play the game to me is comparing apples and oranges. They’re two very different forms of entertainment. I generally like playing video games more than watching TV, but sometimes I’m in the mood to watch, not actually play. Sometimes I want completely passive entertainment, not active entertainment.

  9. And if you watch the ddostream like we are today, you find out update 28 may be tomorrow!

  10. I watch people on Twitch in the same circumstances where I would watch TV or listen to music. I’m rarely focused on the gameplay, unless it’s I game I’m thinking about buying, or like Rednax said, it’s some scary and I want the storytelling without the fear.

    I watch Twitch while I play games half the time. The most important part of choosing to watch someone on Twitch is whether I like that person’s personality. Are the funny? How do they interact with the people watching their show? Do they make the game they’re playing look fun? Most of my faves don’t DDO, like CohhCarnage, ManVsGame, Grimmybrear and TigerWriter. But their live, improv commentary amuses me so it’s fun for me to watch. I also use Twitch as my source for watching tabletop D&D or other d20 systems on channels like table_topping or WotC_DnD.

    Streaming on Twitch, well, I started doing it because other people in the party were doing it. (Peer Pressure!) Later, Shroudpalooza, was meant to be a DDO community thing where each server could represent and have fun. While I was streaming as well as watching other players, I got to meet some cool people from different servers that I never would have met otherwise (In that sense, asking about Twitch is a little like asking, ‘Why blog about DDO?). Lastly, my favorite thing when Twitching is for someone in the chat room to ask how to download DDO or come along and say “You make me miss playing DDO,” to which I always respond, “Come back!”

  11. Entertainment pure and simple. Anything DDO related from the devs or the main community sites I’ll watch for information and amusement. Outside of that, it all comes down to content and personality of the person presenting it.

    I’m not really interested in watching someone else play a game, no matter how impressive their boobs are. There are lots of boobs on the internet if I want to look at boobs. Allegedly. I heard from a guy in the pub. So boobs aren’t a big draw for me to watch someone game 🙂

    The DDO community streams I’ve watched recently are because they are on a topic I’m interested on and it’s interesting to see like-minded people in the chat room while these are going out live. So there’s definitely an added social side to it.

    I’ve been tempted to take one of my completionist characters and stream them in a permadeath group, just so there’s some real sense of loss if I get killed. My main reservation is that the stream would need an R rating for the “industrial language” you’re almost guaranteed to get 🙂

    • We use bad words during streams. It happens. The only thing naughty words has an impact on is DDOStream, and then, it’s just not going to be archived on YouTube.

      I forgot to address the boobs phenomena. Twitch has a glass ceiling like many places. The population of top streamers has a male majority. Those who proceed based off their game talent and/or personalities get the most respect. Those who use cleavage as their only selling point inevitably get extra harassment.

      As with most things on the Internet (Sometimes I want to call it the Entertainet), you will encounter all personality types – enthusiasts, cheerleaders, backseat drivers, narcissists, trolls, etc. Twitch is really about finding people of like minds. You can share enthusiasm if you are an enthusiastic person. If you’re into schadenfreude, you’ll hunt out streamers that seem mental and laugh as trolls make them cry. If you like competitive player, you’ll seek out tournaments. If you’re an attention-seeking viewer, you’ll try to disrupt other people’s channel, chat or play, etc.

  12. Woudn’t watch a DDO stream, but I watch esports. I think you have underestimated the competitive angle, stuff like Hearthstone, LoL, DoTA, and even competitive Civ 5 multiplayer can be compelling in the same way that watching any live sport can be. And given that I couldn’t give less of a damn about pretty much any live sport, and I love gaming, why would I not enjoy people being really good at something that I also enjoy.

What do you think?

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