Why are people watching others play video games?

The video game industry has become a gigantic influence on today’s pop-culture and it is becoming more main stream to play video games now days. With the progression of technology and with everyone now getting faster internet connection a new phenomenon has come about the last few years, regarding gaming. Which is people are now going online and getting up to hours of entertainment by simply watching others play video games.

In 2014 Amazon announced that they bought the video streaming site Twitch for $970 million. Twitch is a live video game streaming site with more than 55 million monthly users. As of July, Twitch had over 15 billion minutes of content, and users on average are spending more than 100 minutes a day on the site. Twitch users can host live streams of their gaming sessions and broadcast them to the world at the exact same time. YouTube has also been a popular platform for gamers to post their gaming videos. Eleven of the top 20 independent YouTubers, including number one, are all gaming channels. This tells us that people watching others play video games has become so popular, gamers are actually being treated as celebrities and are in a business which is generating a lot of money.


Here is an interesting article on roughly how much money YouTube gamers are earning.

So, why do they do it?

Firstly it’s because the people you watch playing video games are actually entertaining. The entertainment value can sometimes not even derive from the game but more so from the person who has made the video of them playing the game. You’ll find that the top YouTubers are funny and responsive to their audience. Often you’ll find that people will get attracted to the charisma of a particular Youtuber, as time goes on they get to know their personality and look forward to any videos they will post later.

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Some players who stream their games on Twitch or post their game play footage on YouTube are full time video gamers, these player live and breathe gaming. They can also be a competitive player who enters big million dollar tournaments. These players are mainly referred to as the professionals, because it’s usually them who are performing certain feats in the game that no one else in the world can do. What will happen is people who play a particular game, for example League of Legends could want to improve how they play the game. They will then go online and find videos of professionals playing the game in the hopes that they could pick up a thing or two and translate what they’ve seen to when they play. Also sometimes people could be invested heavily into a game and if they are any major tournaments around that game people would want to watch these, often live too. This is kind of similar to watch sport except this time you’re watching others play video games at just a very high level. The multiplayer game League of legends has been known to sell out arenas for spectators to come and watch their tournaments.


There’s a community spirit around watching others play video games. At times playing games can be a lonely experience, especially single player games, but also now in big online games. Multiplayer-online games now have become very competitive. Which usually means even if you are interacting with your team it’s more of a serious environment where all the talk and energy is going towards just winning your games. But with streaming or videos of game play, you’re just part of the shared experience where you can sit back, joke with everyone in the chat and enjoy the show.

A study has surfaced recently regarding the scientific explanation for why we enjoy watching video games, it is essentially broken down into two parts which are the Mirror System and our own empathy. The Mirror System is a system that is made up of mirror neurons which basically imitate various actions that are perceived by the human brain. So, if you were to kick a ball the neurons and mirror neurons in your brain activate. Then when you see someone else kick a ball the same parts of your brain activate. This means that you can get the same feeling and brain activity from watching someone else do something as you would if you simply did it yourself. In practice if you watch someone play Rocket League on YouTube, your brain is reacting and perceiving as if you are playing it yourself and making the same moves and choices that the Youtuber is.




Watching others play video games is not all that bad, it can actually be quite fun to see how someone entertaining interacts with games that you have played. Also by having interactive platforms where people can watch gamers and then comment and interact with others who are watching, through the chat section, we are creating a more social and positive environments for gamers to be in. I am someone who loves playing video games and I also really enjoy watch Youtubers play video games as well. Mainly because I don’t know many people in real life who actually share the same interest. So it’s nice to have a community where I can let my gaming side out and be able to meet and have cool conversations with people all over the world who have similar interests as me.



Robinson Meyer. (2014). It’s Totally Normal to Watch Other People Play Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/its-totally-normal-to-watch-other-people-play-video-games/379476/

Andy Hartup. (2014). Let’s Not Play. Retrieved from http://www.gamesradar.com/whats-so-great-about-watching-someone-else-play-video-games/

Eugene Kim. (2014). Amazon Buys Twitch. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/amazon-buys-twitch-2014-8?r=US&IR=T

Harrison Jacobs. (2015). An exec at one of YouTube’s biggest networks explains one of the most baffling trends on the site. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/why-lets-play-videos-are-so-popular-2015-5?r=US&IR=T

Dorkly. (2015). 6 Reasons Why Watching Videogames Is More Fun Than Playing Videogames. Retrieved from http://www.dorkly.com/post/76804/6-reasons-why-watching-videogames-is-more-fun-than-playing-videogames

Randy Kulman. (n.d.). Kids can’t get enough of Let’s Play videos. Retrieved from https://tocaboca.com/magazine/lets-play-videos-kids/

Kale Havervold. (2016). The Science Behind Why Let’s Plays Are So Addicitng. Retrieved from http://equityarcade.com/2016/03/23/the-science-behind-why-lets-plays-are-so-addicting/


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