Videogames Become a Spectator Sport

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Videogames are increasingly becoming spectator sports — which I find baffling:

On any given day, Jayson Love fires up a personal computer from his Billings, Mont., home and starts his job — playing videogames in front of an audience of thousands.

The 33-year-old hosts a Web show called “MANvsGAME,” in which he broadcasts his live gameplay on the site Twitch. Between advertising and subscribers paying $5 per month to watch his video stream, he says it is possible he’ll earn more than $100,000 next year.

It’s not that I can’t conceive of a game worth watching rather than playing, but I haven’t seen one yet. Of course, I’m one of those weirdos who’d rather play a sport than watch it, too.


  1. Steve Johnson says:

    I occasionally play Starcraft 2. I occasionally watch pros play Starcraft 2.

    I used to do BJJ. I watch MMA occasionally.

    The two aren’t substitutes; they’re complements. When you’ve played a sport or game you can better appreciate the skill and technique that the pros take to the game and it makes watching the sport or game more enjoyable.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I think the original Starcraft is the last computer game I played semi-seriously. While I can imagine watching it, I can’t imagine watching it much.

    I’m an avid martial artist, I love BJJ, and I watch MMA. I agree that watching a sport is more entertaining — and instructive! — if you play the sport. (Ironically, I find sport BJJ hard to watch, but that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish.)

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    For example, I never actually played Starcraft 2, but I did already watch over 100 matches of it over at Husky Starcraft.

    What I do play is OpenRA, a free, multi-platform, real time strategy game engine that allows the recreation of the early Command & Conquer titles.

  4. Space Nookie says:

    I find the watching experience to be relaxing, as opposed to playing which is more exciting. The time commitment is also a lot more flexible.

    Article is misleading in that subscribers pay $5 monthly for the privilege of posting in the IRC channel associated with the stream. Otherwise it is free. The streamers generally watch the IRC channel and work that into their commentary.

  5. William Newman says:

    I’ve never watched a computer game other than a few minutes watching friends or standing at a video arcade, but being serious about a game naturally makes it interesting to see the comments of knowledgeable people on a game. I’ve watched a few games of Go at tournaments with professional players offering commentary, which is interesting. And I’ve studied dozens of old games with professional commentary, which I find more convenient but which is fundamentally pretty similar. (It’s also pretty standard for reasonably serious Go players and Chess players.)

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