Our buds at Coke eSports are teaming up with ShowDown to bring the internet the 2nd annual Game-a-Thon today, starting at 5pm PST. If you're in San Francisco, you might want to stop by the Folsom Street Foundry to check it out - and if you're not in San Francisco, you can watch the whole thing live on Twitch.tv.
Game-a-Thon is a day of some of the best players and streamers on the 'net (including TrumpSC, Voyboy, Giantwaffle, and more) do what they do best: play videogames while we watch. And the best part is that this is all for charity - each gamer will be playing for a charity of their choice.
But this got us thinking - is watching people play videogames actually even better than actually playing videogames yourself?
No, I'm not being sarcastic, so hold on to your Kappas. Here are 6 reasons why watching people play videogames is unquestionably amazing.
There was a time, long ago, when watching people play videogames meant "watching your older brother Eric play a single-player game and refuse to give up the controller, even though he was awful and kept dying." In short, it wasn't that great - I mean, would YOU rather be the one playing?
In the case of your older brother Eric, yeah, absolutely. Eric was terrible, constantly died, and wasn't very entertaining. But the rise of the internet has changed things - particularly on Twitch.tv, the premier spot for watching other people play videogames.
See, professional streamers aren't your older brother Eric - they're entertaining, for one. They wouldn't have the massive followings they have if they didn't bring something more to the table. In fact, some of the biggest internet videos and channels in the world are of other people playing videogames. Pewdiepie is (by far) the biggest Youtube channel, built by a young guy who liked playing Minecraft and scary games. Dunkey has made an art of taking videogame-watching to the next level, adding his own hilarious commentary and video-editing skills into the mix. CaptainSparklez not only plays Minecraft, but he creates insane music videos using the game. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Because...
Videogames are expensive (even in the age of Steam sales and Humble Bundles) - and not everyone can afford to shell out $60 (plus DLC costs) for every major AAA game. Hell, even if you could afford that, your computer just might not be up to snuff and there would be no way you could even run the game (lookin' at you, Just Cause 3).
Luckily, the world of videogame streaming and Let's Plays exist, and on top of being pretty entertaining, these players live and breathe gaming, so tend to be pretty good at this stuff. Like, wayyy better than you could ever dream of being. And watching them play shows you how games were MEANT to be played - from watching Call of Duty players no-scope headshots to the wavedashing experts of Smash Bros, it's a pretty incredible thing to experience. And, really, there's no better motivational tool for yourself - if you wanna get better at videogames, watch and learn. Maybe someday you could be smooth enough to land a pentakill in League of Legends too.
I mean, you won't, but you might get at least good enough that you stop embarrassing yourself each match like Eric would. Ugh, Eric.
Part of the reason Twitch has become such a destination for watching streamers is that there's a community spirit around watching streams. Normally, playing videogames can be a lonely experience - single-player games particularly, but even most big online games. There's very little "casual hanging out" spirit going on when you're actively involved in a game, where everyone is being very naturally competitive. That tends to mean ripping on the opposing team and getting angry at your teammates for not pulling their weight. While you might form a tight team bond every now and then with your Rocket League buddies, it doesn't happen often, and even when it does there's a bit of tension because you really don't want to screw up and make your teammates hate you.
But with streaming, you're just part of the shared experience, and all of the pressure is on the streamer - you can just sit back, joke with everyone else in the chat, and enjoy the show.
Speaking of Twitch, the live gaming video platform has opened up a world of weird experiences that would have never been possible otherwise - such as the several weeks long saga of the original Twitch Plays Pokemon (which WE will definitely never forget) and the followups that are still going on to this day and, uh, two fish playing Street Fighter against one another. Videogame streaming can take on many forms, but it's ultimately about bringing people together to participate in a big, weird experiences that would have never have happened.
Here's the big one - remember how your parents always told you to stop playing videogames and get back to your homework? How videogames were pointless and your skills had no value in the real world?
Well, your parents lied to you. YOU HEAR THAT MOM AND DAD? YOU LIED.
Beyond the actual professional gamers of leagues like Major League Gaming, a whole new category of gaming professionals has opened up in the world of video streaming. Whether you're reviewing or just goofing around or a speedrunner, there's a bevy of ways you can actually make a living by playing videogames all day. And it's open to anyone - yes, you could go start a Twitch channel right now and in a few months you might be the next big thing in Hearthstone streamers.
That's what I'm hoping for, at least. That way I can start writing off new packs as a business expense.
Maybe this is the biggest one for a lot of people - but there are hours in your day where you simply CANNOT play videogames. Whether it's work or school, you can't just stop and dedicate your attention towards your Dark Souls II speedrun. It requires way too much focus, and people might notice the incessant clicking and swearing that would inevitably follow.
But what you can do (and, at least here, MANY PEOPLE DO) is watch people streaming games. You don't have to dedicate your full attention to it, but you still get to have the fun of videogames in your life during your work hours AND you can experience games you might otherwise not have time for. It's the best of all worlds, and it's all thanks to videogame streaming.
Even Eric would have a hard time arguing with that.
Now, even if you're at work right now, you can watch Game-A-Thon and enjoy some sweet videogame action PLUS feel good about yourself because it's all for charity!