Watching other people play video games is the most boring concept ever

A reader struggles to understand the appeal of Twitch and esports and worries gaming is being turned into non-interactive entertainment.

I’m worried that writing this is going to make me sound like an old man shouting at the clouds but I’m only 29 and I don’t like to think that makes me completely out of touch just yet. And yet I do feel out of touch because I just do not understand how watching other people play video games has become a form of entertainment.

I remember a writer on Eurogamer once describing it as like watching someone else reading a book: they’re probably having a great time but you’re not getting anything out of it at all. This is where I stand on the issue.

I’ve heard some people say it’s good for getting tips on how to play multiplayer games better and I can completely get that, but I think it’s dishonest to pretend that’s why most people are doing it. That accounts for only a tiny percentage of the audience that are watching esports or random people goofing about on Twitch or Mixer.

So if you’re not doing it for that reason you’re doing it to as… what? The next best thing to playing a game yourself? If you’re that desperate games aren’t that expensive! Wait a couple of months and almost everything is half price or you have excellent subscription deals with thinks like Xbox Game Pass and EA Access.

To me this is all a bizarre perversion of the main appeal of video games: they’re interactive. When you play a game you are taking part in the adventure, even in a multiplayer game everything happens because of your input and your decisions. But when you’re just watching someone else all of that is gone. It’s like taking all the filling out of a sandwich and pretending two bits of bread on their own is the same thing.

And yet millions of people watch esports every day which must mean… I’m wrong? But it doesn’t feel like it. The whole concept just seems so apathetic and lazy. Like people are into the idea of playing a video game but can’t be bothered to make the effort of doing it themselves. This isn’t like watching football or rugby. Most people are not going to be a professional sports player, or even good enough to play at an amateur level, but video games aren’t like that.

If a game’s too hard you turn down the difficulty and play it the way you want. Even Dark Souls has got as popular as it is because people have found that when they push themselves they can actually end up doing much better than they thought possible.

But away from esports I think the Twitch side of thing is kind of the same as the YouTuber phenomenon, where people are tuning in to watch a virtual friend that’s into the same things they are. I get it, I’m not being judgemental about that, but there’s no way that can be a healthy replacement for actual friends and, more importantly for my argument, watching them playing games is surely the least interesting way to interact with an online personality. I mean, they’re busy and distracted because they’re doing something else! So they’re not really paying attention and you’re not doing anything at all.

I’m not trying to stop anyone from enjoying themselves. I admit this is me not understanding what’s going on. But I feel like I’m in Bizarro World, where the best thing about video games has been stripped out of them and is somehow now wildly successful. I don’t want to watch other people play games; I want to play them myself. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do right now!

By reader Pointrack

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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