Last week, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel featured a sketch that mocked YouTube Gaming as well as people who watch game streams.
The segment garnered nearly 55,000 downvotes on Kimmel’s YouTube channel. The latest clip from the show, uploaded today, features Kimmel reading out angry comments left on the previous video and essentially poking fun at game streaming fans with the same jabs as last time.
Kimmel has every right to make jokes about what the kids are getting up to these days, and honestly, gamers (and YouTube viewers at large) should be able to take this in their stride. After all, what Kimmel says about game streams doesn’t make them any less fun or important for players.
However, it seems to me like Kimmel isn’t just riding the latest trend — he’s completely missing the point of platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
Why watch people play? Because you can see experienced gamers pull off complex maneuvers or execute clever strategies in your favorite titles. Because you can find out if a new release is worth your time. Because you can enjoy informative and humorous commentary from witty streamers. Because you can witness skilled players square off against each other and cheer on your idols.
What’s more, eSports is growing rapidly — The International 2015 tournament announced a prize pool of $18 million, a majority of which is contributed by fans. And that’s up from $1.6 million just four years ago. Last year’s streamed show saw more than 20 million viewers worldwide.
Are we still going on about how watching gamers play is silly?
I spend a lot more time following games coverage on blogs and podcasts than I actually play them. I read about fashion much more than I actually shop for clothes or even wear decent threads out in public. I check out recipes and watch videos about cooking techniques daily, but only prepare a couple of meals on weekends. And increasingly, I find that I’m not alone in following my passions indirectly.
With the Web, we have more ways to engage with our interests these days than ever before. And these avenues are becoming more nuanced over time. Game streamers are far more sophisticated than when they first began to hit YouTube and are now entertainers in their own right, building massive audiences as they continue to improve their acts.
I’m not saying Kimmel shouldn’t have released the second clip berating fans of game streams. But by doing so, he showed that he has no idea about how incredibly complex, immersive and satisfying games can be, and also that he’s ignorant about how the Web makes it possible to explore other facets of media and share those experiences with others.
Kimmel also forgot the golden rule of YouTube: don’t read the comments.