Sports and Video Games – An Interesting Comparison
Though a person may not be a big fan of sports, s/he will definitely value them as a lens to understand video games. Sports are often played in real time and under restricted conditions, and they demand both skill and smartness to succeed. They are normally played with abstract targets in mind, like scoring points. They usually have a prevailing win condition, and winning is necessarily the whole point in playing. The same things stand true for many video games too. Todhg Kelly – an eminent game designer has put forward some interesting points of comparison between sports and video games in TechCrunch. A few of them are here.
A big difference between video games and sports is most of the sports are played multiplayer, while most of the video games are played single player. Some may say that it’s only a matter of time and it will happen someday, but it’s not so. There is not and will never be an urge for a game like Gone Home to become a team sport, or the world is not dying for The Stanley Parable to go multiplayer.
However there is another traditional difference between video games and sports which is gradually disappearing and it is whether they are played or watched. Sports have been a spectator activity for long, whether going physically to a stadium or watching them on TV. However, video games were considered to be all about playing and not watching, and so, were a personal activity. Who would want really to watch you playing a game?
The answer to this question turns out to be “everybody”. Speed runs, live streaming, let’s-play, social video sharing, spectator matches and many more have all become a huge business quickly. Twitch.tv recently published some figures according to which 12 billion minutes of coverage of video games was watched in 2013 on their service, which is double the number of last year. 45 million people watched video gaming. 6 million videos were aired on their service. And probably most unbelievably, an average viewer spent 106 minutes watching every day.
Today you will see a number of Twitter feeds talking about games they watch or air. It has become a trend to share the best-run clips of video games like the big battles from League of Legends or Spelunky, just like soccer enthusiasts share the best-goal clips on the YouTube. There are a number of people who keep streams open all day long, nearly like listening to the radio during their work, and an even more fascinating thing is the degree to which the conversation about the games which looks like sports chatter.
And finally the speed at which video games change. Sports are expansive and comparatively unchanging that go beyond generations and their rules usually become idiomatic terms of reference. A home run, e.g. is home run, just like it was a century ago, and that has a cultural value.
On the contrary, few video games have an appeal lasting five years. New hits keep on coming, so do new genre kings and new innovations. The big first-person-shooter of this year becomes last year’s with a great regularity. And therefore to enjoy a service like Twitch really, you need to understand something about video games, to be a component of ever-evolving culture. So, there is an accessibility breach of the type that TV has a great trouble with.
But definitely that’s only a matter of time. As TV goes on to be interrupted and new participants in broadcasting appear that don’t play by its rules, it’s totally imaginable that these hindrances will go away. And one day, maybe earlier than you think, the street fans will cheer for their digital teams.
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