The newest generation of gaming has taken more advantage of “social gaming” than ever before. As consoles are given more and more online capabilities, developers are more likely to create content that capitalizes on a console’s online features. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 both feature the online services of Twitch, a streaming media site focusing on viewing others experiences in gaming. The emphasis on streaming media in gaming on home consoles encourages players to subscribe to the online services offered for the respective consoles. Online gaming most often means social gaming, and services like Twitch are ideal for broadcasting to social outlets. Accessing Twitch from either Playstation 4 or Xbox One allows users to view any stream from any user on their home console. Xbox One’s Upload Studio allows players to seamlessly record thirty second bits of gameplay with their friends. This feature allows Xbox Live players to document their triumphant moments in gaming with a simple “Xbox, Record that” spoken to the Kinect unit in the midst of a game. Players have always shared moments in gaming with their friends through conversation, and having a service like Upload allows their friends to literally see and hear what these moments are.
Streaming media in gaming has also recently taken an interesting turn, involving direct interaction with a game. In February, the internet bore witness to “Twitch Plays Pokémon” and game stream that allowed viewers to band together to play the game by entering commands into the game. When all was said and done, the game clocked out with a completion time of over sixteen days logged into the play timer. The collective group of over 1.1 million players had conquered the game, which was certainly no easy task, given the nature of the game. Pokémon is a lengthy RPG, and having several people control each movement of what is supposed to be a single player game creates an infinite source of chaos. “Twitch Plays Pokémon” has led to spin-offs of the original, including a run through of Pokémon Crystal version, and even a “Twitch plays Zelda,” featuring Legend of Zelda, a much more complex single-player game. Using streaming media to actually play video games offers a weird new lens with which to view cooperative gaming. Instead of a handful of players attempting to accomplish a temporary goal, “Twitch Plays” features a mass number of players attempting to accomplish the long term goal of game completion, together. It would be interesting to see this influence home console gaming as well.
With video games and streaming media working hand in hand, players get to share their experience with other gamers across the internet. Even non-hardcore gamers can witness what a player experiences in hardcore games like Dark Souls or Titanfall, simply by tuning into a Twitch stream. Perhaps what streaming media can do for video games is providing a major outlet to generate interest in video games, and that is a good thing for anyone who enjoys the medium. Social gaming and game streaming allows others to take part in one shared environment, providing players to witness the spectacle of another’s game experience.
Opinion by Michael Foster