Livestreaming Twitch Turns Video Games into Spectator Sport

Video game players began “speed running,” or playing through a video game as quickly as possible, and posting videos to the Internet for others to enjoy as early as the 1990s. But streaming technology is revolutionizing the speed running community, as Twitch allows viewers to watch players compete live. Just as people enjoy watching sports live rather than on a delay, people find live speed running more compelling.

There are hundreds of thousands of speedrun videos on YouTube, but Twitch now allows people to watch live speedruns. This translates the experience from watching a recorded, refined piece of work to taking a live journey with the player as skills are exhibited in real time.

“What speedrunning on Twitch does, and what watching these types of events live does, is it humanizes inhuman abilities,” explained Twitch community manager Jared Rea.  “[I]t’s not just about watching this flawless run anymore,” he continued, “it’s about going on the journey towards it with this player. You watch their success and you watch their failure and you watch them develop new techniques and discover bugs or routes that they had never thought of.”

“Mario 64” and “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” are traditionally two of the most popular speedrun games, but players have begun to branch out to other games like “Batman” on the NES and even “Pokemon.” Twitch has helped breathe life into many older games.

“No matter the game, though, the appeal of a speedrun lies largely in seeing a game played in a new way — using incredible skill to complete games in record times or exploiting glitches to jump through walls and bypass obstacles,” reports The Verge. “New streaming technologies like Twitch have helped bring this phenomenon to a larger audience.”