The Incredible Flowability of Audiences: Video games are not just for those who play games

Yesterday, I read an article about the partnership between Facebook and Blizzard games, in order to stream video games on Facebook. While video game streaming is not today’s news and there are many groups of people that are engaged with video games not only by direct interaction, but also through viewing, until now the viewers were deriving mostly from strong gaming communities, like the one existing in Twitch. Also, Facebook has already hosted several Blizzard live streams. But this partnership signifies something different and it is very likely to change not only the market landscape for video game streaming providers, but most importantly, to reshape the base of video game consumers.

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The convenience that this partnership is providing to Facebook users, that is watching games through their own timeline, transforms video game streaming to a social tool. The simplicity and easiness of access, it is very likely to attract even those who are not related with gaming, but they want to watch someone they know playing, to become members of a community, to socialize. Watching is attractive and enjoyable per se, as video game streaming is in essence a blend between attending a live event/performance and film viewing. It is easy to spot similarities between this experience and other social practices, for example the way fans are participating in a football game, by watching their favorite team playing. Of course, watching video game streaming is not the same with watching a football game, but it still holds strong analogies, since both football fans and video game viewers feel that they are actively involved through watching their team, or their chosen streamer accordingly.

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The undeniable fact is that media interconnections and interrelations are increasingly become stronger and that the consumers are moving with much greater ease through various media, something that has to be taken seriously into account when we are analyzing or producing media content. As changes are happening fast, we have to constantly re-evaluate, re-think and answer again and again, the same basic question: to whom we are talking to? Otherwise there is a great risk of losing the message in the communication channel’s noise.

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