Twitch, Twitch, Twitch…
The ever growing network of pro gamers and Amateur entertainers alike just keeps growing. Back between 2012 and 2013 the popular streaming site more than doubled their user and viewer stats in just a few short months. Just a year later shortly after a reported deal with Youtube owner Google fell through Amazon bought the the streaming giant for a reported $970 million. If you’re a gamer or enthusiast, it’s safe to say you’ve probably heard of Twitch.
So what makes it so popular you may ask? Two sides in my opinion.
The first side of this popularity coin would be entertainment. Simple right? Much like Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O’Brien these streams are watch for the person streaming it, for the personality and the entertainment value. Often even for learning or just getting that streamers point of view and opinion on something. So why is this new? Why not just another gaming talk show? Simple, Twitch is achieving something television has been trying to master for many years, audience interaction. All the tv shows where you text in or take part in a twitter poll as the show is going, it’s all aimed at making you feel involved and heard. And that’s where Twitch has it nailed. With Twitch chat on the side popular entertainment streamers can directly interact with their viewers while streaming, they can answer questions or joke about, often viewers will watch the stream often enough to become a regular, a well known figure in even the streamers life. With new levels of interaction and content easily and readily available it’s no wonder it’s so popular.
The second side of our metaphorical coin would be eSports. You know, that thing you’ve been reading about. That thing that some ESPN guy has made fun of a few times. That thing that a lot of the media and big tv personalities don’t seem to get. Yeah that thing. That this is a multi billion dollar industry. Now here’s the thing, a lot of people don’t get eSports. A lot of people still don’t understand or agree that it is or should be considered sport, after all “It’s just a game”. Let’s step back a couple of hundred years shall we? 1314 -1321, England, though there is much reference to similar practices this is some of the first solid reference to “Football” and it was referenced as “just a game”. In fact in 1363 King Edward III of England banned football for being unsafe and a waste of time. For many many years, all of these sport that today we celebrate and commit our time to were seen as “just games” just entertainment. Cricket in the 1500’s, American Football in the 1800’s, Rugby in the 1790’s – 1800’s. All of these sport started as simple ways to entertain oneself. And at it’s core, was competition, these entertainment forms required skill and had a clear outcome, a winner and a loser. So what makes eSports different? In short, nothing. In the minds of the masses, it’s most probably a mix between in not being as visibly physical and a keen misunderstanding of how much skill is needed. These are just growing pains of completely new forms of sport and entertainment. The mold is being broke and it makes some people uncomfortable and some people really excited. Like any other sport, eSports require immense commitment, hours upon hours of training daily. Skill is, like most sports, routed in a few key places. Hand eye coordination, reflexes, timing, decision making, speed of movement (Albeit subtle movements). eSports is just that, sports. Just completely new and out of the mold. And it is booming. This giant of an industry can attract some of Twitch’s biggest viewership boosts. The 2014 Dota 2 International Tournament saw over 20 million viewers on Twitch and was broadcast on ESPN. The prize pool for that same tournament was over $10 million. League of Legends season finals 2013 saw over 32 million viewers on Twitch. The numbers are massive!
So why not? Hop on board, go get your own stream going. Even if you just want to share with friends. This community is surely one worth joining.