Saturday, April 16, 2016

Is watching people play video games really a thing?

"Is watching people play video games really a thing?"  After reading through the results of that simple Google search, I can say, that yes, it's definitely a thing, and it's only going to get bigger.

Initially, it didn't make any sense to me.**  Apparently, it didn't make sense to Jimmy Kimmel, either, stating,  "To me, watching another person play video games is like going to a restaurant and having someone eat your food for you."

Of course, Jimmy faced a lot of criticism for that stance.  "The same could be said about anything: why go to sporting events if you can play it yourself? Why go to concerts when you can sing in the shower?" asked one viewer, and in reading through this Reddit post, I found a number of people who felt the same way.  The prevailing argument appeared to be that these were the best at an activity that a large group of people enjoyed, and in the same way that college football players still watch the NFL, people are attracted to watching the top tier of any activity perform.  It's the same thing that explains the viral takeoff of curling during the Winter Olympics.

Personally, I think it's a continuation of the mainstreaming of "nerd culture", globally.  When the top grossing movies are Star Wars, Transformers and Jurassic World, joined by a half-dozen comic book character reboots, and the leading television shows are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, it's natural that video games and video game spectators will follow.

**Full transparency: I knew it was a thing before that search, but I never really subscribed to the idea.  I've been a gamer since childhood, and even now, juggling work, EMBA and a family, channeling my best Frank Underwood, I don't mind spending a few minutes virtually beating up on your 12-year-old niece or nephew.  That said, my interaction with this industry was limited to using it to preview potential purchases.

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