I won’t pretend I saw it coming.
When I first heard about gamers livestreaming their gameplay on platforms like Twitch, I never thought it would take off. Why would gamers and game developers want spoilers? Why would someone watch another person play a game instead of playing it themselves?
I was so, so wrong.
Now that I watch and enjoy game streams myself and work informally with a front-page Twitch streamer, I’ve observed many reasons why Twitch viewers tune in to watch a favorite streamer play games. Viewers want to:
- Witness the reflexes and quick strategic thinking of a masterful, top 1% skill bracket player
- Ask questions and listen to commentary to improve their own gaming skills
- Interact with the streamer and other viewers via the stream’s chat window
- Belong to the streamer’s community via Twitter, Discord, and other apps
- Evaluate whether they want to buy a new game, or give a second chance to a game that’s been recently patched
- Support their favorite streamer via paid subscriptions, “bits” (Twitch’s donation currency), social media exposure, or direct donations
- Hear their favorite streamer say “Thank you” the support in front of hundreds or thousands of fellow viewers
But here’s the reason that fascinates me the most:
Viewers watch Twitch streamers to learn.
One of the largest educational streams is Justin Conroy, aka Jayne, who started streaming Overwatch education, training, and gameplay analysis. Jayne was formerly a flight instructor and digital educator who set out to become a coach or analyst for the Overwatch League. He’s now an assistant coach for the Dallas Fuel Overwatch League team. Congratulations, Jayne.
Another of my favorite educators is Skylias, who talks about science and interviews astrophysicists. She also takes breaks from densely educational content to sing and play games during some streams. The variety might seem a little scattershot, but Skylias’s educational segments remain an excellent example of how teachers could use video streaming and recording to engage learners.
That’s the thing that fascinates me about Twitch streamers: By watching some streamers, you catch glimpses of future models for teaching and learning.