Gamers Watching Gamers Play Games: Twitch & The Power Of Live Viewing

Did you know that video network Twitch has 45 million monthly active users who tune in to watch live streams of people gaming? In fact, there are currently 85,000 tuning into League of Legends right now. Most of these streams are as much about the gameplay as they are about the gamer who simultaneously broadcasts a view of themselves via their webcam. This phenomenon is so prevalent that Google is rumored to be in talks to acquire them for $1 billion.

Is this behavior voyeuristic? Yes. Is it lonely? Possibly. Is it surprising? Not so much. There is actually quite a bit Twitch can teach us about ourselves.

Arcades And Shared Experiences 

At first glance Twitch’s growth seems unfathomable but this behavior is actually nothing new. As Slate does a great job pointing out, Twitch harks back to the old arcades where people would congregate to play games as much as to watch others play, peering over to take in the action of Pong or Pac Man. This is the same behavior as Twitch, but in this case technology is enabling it at a far greater scale. And it’s not social in the same way as Facebook or Twitter. This is about shared experience not sharing your experience and I think that is an important distinction.

The Power of Live Events

What Twitch teaches us is the importance of live experiences. In today’s on demand world there is still a desire, likely more than ever to be “in the moment.” There needs to be that sense that if you blink, you’ll miss out which is exactly what Twitch provides to the gaming audience. And Twitch isn’t the exception. In fact, major events are also experiencing growth like the Oscars which has achieved the highest household ratings in nine years.