One, two, three, and we are live. Performing in front of a live audience can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to elaborate productions and things that require spontaneity. If you’ve ever been to an improv comedy event, or even just a regular comedy segment, you've probably noticed not everyone who goes on stage is ready for the audience. But for the video game streamers of this day and age, Twitch gaming and YouTube Live are places where they directly interact with their audiences, and it completely changes the experience.
Screw ups happen often when playing video games, and even the people who make amazing montage videos, or who are able to pull off perfect runs of a game, probably failed a lot before actually putting it on screen. However, when you are live, the audience can see you screw up and they get to have a laugh. This can be a good and a bad thing. It means that those who stream live either have to be willing to put up with failing on screen, or willing to play games that encourage failure or those with very few fail states. This limits your choices for streaming games, especially since you can’t edit out the boring parts, which means you either need to be very comedic or you need more interesting content.
So, what exactly does the audience get out of this, besides a behind the scenes look at how good their favourite gamer actually is? The answer is quite simple. Direct involvement. Either through the chat box on the side screen, or through playing with the streamer directly in an online game, the audience engages in a much more intimate encounter than just a regular video. With the streaming service, it allows for real time engagement in the show, similar to an audience suggesting ideas for an improv act, or magicians using audience members for their tricks. This form of engagement can directly influence the show, or simply be used to talk with other members of the chat, but it nevertheless gets you closer to the content.
In my experience, just watching a stream without participating in it can have a profound effect. I don’t exactly watch streams often, or participate much when I do, but I do enjoy them a lot. This is partly because it is a different format from normal videos. The other reason is that it makes me realize I am a part of something greater, and that feels awesome. So go out there and watch a stream, it will certainly be worth it.
Tyler Cooke hails from the small town of Alliston, Ontario, right outside of Barrie. He is known as a quiet individual, but also as the most boisterous character in class, depending on the day. His hobbies include reading, playing tabletop games, scouring Tumblr for memes, and of course playing video games.