Five Reasons Why We Watch Other People Play Games

Originally posted on Twitter.

I get this question a lot, so here is the answer for all eternity: why do we watch other people play video games?

I watch both YouTube and Twitch, but the YouTube videos are usually Twitch VODs (it’s kind of funny that most of the current YouTube content is not produced for YouTube):

1. To make a purchase decision.

I watch new games that people care about to see if I like them. This is done by watching creators that I know their preferences – even if they like different games than I do, I know what those differences are.

2. To experience games from genres I don’t like to play myself.

Examples include horror games; challenge-based games (Dark Souls); Open-world Collectathon games (Batman Arkham series); and some cinematic-story driven games (Life is Strange).

3. To experience games from consoles I don’t own.

I only have a PC, for monetary reasons, I do not own any other current console system. I’d like to have a PS4 or Switch, but don’t have the money to spend on them. And there are a lot of great console games that are worth experiencing.

4. To see how other people play strategy and management games that I play myself.

I’ve watched as many hours of RimWorld and Cities Skylines as I played them. You learn new strategies, learn how people do things differently than you, how they organise their environment.

5. To observe how people play certain prominent games, from a game design standpoint.

Watching other people play offer a lot of important insights into the design of a specific game as well as games of the same genre or game mechanics.

And on a general note, watching games fall into my “watching television” timeslot. It would be either in the morning before heading to the office; or in the evening, instead of a series or movie. It does not replace playing games myself.