Getting acquainted with social networks and apps: streaming video games on Twitch.tv

Published date05 November 2018
Pages7-10
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/LHTN-08-2018-0054
Date05 November 2018
AuthorKatie Elson Anderson
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Library & information services
Getting acquainted with social networks and apps:
streaming video games on Twitch.tv
Katie Elson Anderson
A recent pew internet survey on teens,
social media and technology finds that
YouTube is the most popular online
platform for teens (Anderson and Jiang,
2018). This illustrates a growing trend
of both viewing and creation of video in
social media apps illustrated by the fact
that at least 64 per cent of internet users
are watching online videos daily
globally with 85 per cent watching in
the USA (Statista, 2018). In response to
this growing demand for video, many of
the major players in social media apps,
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and
Snapchat, have been adding video
capability to their features to keep up
with each other in this trend. Watching
videos on YouTube and sharing them
on one’s Facebook timeline has been
possible and popular for some time, but
a more recent growing trend is live
streaming. Facebook Live, Instagram
Stories, Periscope (Twitter) and
Snapchat’s video snap all allow for real-
time sharing through video, inviting
audiences to experience the moments as
they happen. Since this column’s
previous discussion of live-streaming
apps (Anderson, 2017), the use of video
streaming has continued to grow on the
various platforms (Richter, 2017). The
popularity and importance of capturing
and archiving these live-streamed
moments on these apps continues to
grow, providing people with the ability
to record and share events that had not
previously been shareable; from
capturing funny family moments to
praising good Samaritans to instances of
oppression and harassment. While all of
these social media apps allow for quick
and easy sharing of video, some are
more robust than others for longer
content and for the archiving of the
content. Instagram and Snapchat’s
video features are best for quick videos
to share snippets of one’s day and are
usually ephemeral, disappearing upon
viewing or within 24 hours. Periscope,
YouTube Live and Facebook Live are
useful for sharing longer events,
streaming concerts, talks, events or
chronicling one’s day to day activities.
These streams are viewable later when
archive settings are selected. While
many people are using these apps to
share their moments with followers or
to record events for viewing later, some
are using this technology for a very
specific purpose; to watch and share the
playing of video games.
The number of active video gamers
worldwide increases every year as
access to a variety of games and
gaming platforms increases with new
technologies. Statista estimates 2.21
billion gamers worldwide in 2017 with
an estimate of 2.73 billion by 2021
(HKExnews, 2018). In 2015, 49 per
cent of American adults played video
games, and that number is likely to have
increased since the report (Duggan,
2015). These gamers are playing on
different equipment ranging from
gaming consoles, handheld consoles,
laptops, tablets, desktops to smartphones.
A used game and console market,
smartphone apps and re-releases of retro
games have also contributed to making
gaming more accessible and desirable.
The billions of people playing the games
are also spending time watching others
play the games or recording and
streaming themselves playing these
games. Many of the most popular and
largest earners on YouTube gained their
following and continue their success with
videos of video game play (Lynch, 2018).
The early gaming videos were recorded,
edited and then uploaded. The editing
process allowed for streamlining the
content, shortening the actual time of
game play and giving the audience
instruction and commentary on the
games. The earliest forms of these video
game streaming events were known as
“Let’s Play” videos, or “LP.” LP videos
are generally walk-throughs of a specific
game, demonstrating the play and
skills needed for completion with
accompanying video or screenshots. They
include commentary that is often
humorous. While many LP videos show a
play through of a video game they should
have other unique elements that make
them attractive to viewers such as
personal anecdotes or highlights of
special skills or bonuses. When done
well, these videos can be “tools for
education, criticism and vicarious
enjoyment” (Lee, 2015). The exact
origins of “Let’s Play” videos are inexact,
but according to the Let’s Play Archive
[1] these videos began around 2006 when
people were posting videos of gameplay
to the internet forum Something Awful
[2], an internet forum that has contributed
largely to internet culture, from Let’s Play
videos to memes to NSFW (not safe for
work) content that spreads to other
internet forums such as reddit and 4chan.
These LP videos began to appear on
YouTube as YouTube gained users and
more popularity. There has been some
disagreement and controversy regarding
copyright and fair use of the game sounds
and images (Taylor, 2015). While these
videos are still referred to by some as
“Let’s Play” videos, the ubiquity of
streaming game playthrough and
increased platforms where they exist has
given this term more of a historical or
nostalgic nuance.
The number of gaming video content
viewers has been steadily increasing
with 609 million reported in 2016 and a
projection of 743 million by 2019,
with the largest number of gaming
video content viewers is in Asia, with
Europe and the USA following behind
(HKExnews, 2018). The content that is
being viewed is quite vast, covering any
and all games from the most popular to
the retro. A sub-genre of video game
play that has also led to the rise in video
game content viewing and streaming
is that of eSports, video games played as
LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 9 2018, pp. 7-10, V
CEmerald Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/LHTN-08-2018-0054 7

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