Streamers who broadcast to no-one

Originally published at:


That’s a sad existence.

Now be sure to hit that like button on the lower right!


‘My Content’.
I’m truly amazed by the amount of people who just play a game while the world watches and then feel they ‘make’ something. I can understand e-sports (at least to the degree that I understand watching sports in general) but just a solo playthrough of some game? That’s not your content you’re showing, it’s the games content. But I guess it’s the ‘kids these days’ phenomenon, and the problem is my calcified brain :smiley:


Technological gamification adds a cruel twist to the old problem of obscure artists, actors and musicians trying to make it in an unforgiving system where only a handful of them can make a living.


There’s high-effort Let’s Plays which kind of assemble a CliffsNotes of a game. The best go beyond, digging into the historical context, references and stuff, so you almost end up with a third-party director’s commentary. (The LPs of Sierra’s Laura Bow series being the pinnacle of this form)

So it’s not purely their own content, but at least it puts the ‘work’ into ‘derivative work’.


The footage is the game’s content in the same way that watching grand slalom is watching the achievements of those who designed and built the hill. I don’t watch streamed video games but playing them does take skill and practice, which is what the streamers are trying to show.


True, those exist as well. But I’ve seen lots of ‘bare’ playthrough streams as well.

And many many streamers are giving commentary as they play, commentary on the game, or techniques to beat this part, or comments on the level design or comparisons to other games, or jokes, etc. Sure, there are plenty of people who just play and don’t say anything, but they don’t tend to catch on.

There’s a guy I like to watch play games. Some times I’ll stop watching him and pick up the game but also sometimes it’s a way for me to experience the immersive story part of the game without playing it myself and I’ll get a satisfying experience out of watching him.

There’s another guy I watch who essentially does speed runs of randomized versions of Final Fantasy IV in competition with other people doing speed runs of the same randomized version. He’s usually talking about his strategy while doing it.

And finally I watch people play games like PUBG or Realm Royale against other people, and comment about metagame, point out flaws or strengths of the game, give a running thought process about why they’re doing what they’re doing, analyze the psychology of people they’re playing against and how to use it against them. Watching the best of these guys is surreal, they don’t play the same game as I do any more than a pro basketball player plays the same game as a park pickup game.


I’d say that, in a great many streaming cases, there is the additional problem of not actually even being ‘long tail’ material:

In the context of someone streaming Dark Souls 3(as mentioned in the article, most popular games would be similar) just ‘playing’ makes you a probably-unexceptional copy of everyone else just playing on a medium where(unlike, say, live performances by cover bands) it’s exactly as easy and cheap to just tune in to whoever is ‘just playing’ either shockingly well or in some particularly entertaining way. Unless it’s basically just a backdrop for some other sort of performance; why would you watch at-best-average play when watching world class play is exactly as easy?

Someone aiming at particularly esoteric distinctions (various speedrunning/skill challenge things, marathon runs, no-hit runs, etc.) might qualify as ‘tail’ compared to the 'just playing a game that sold more than three million units, quite possibly to members of the audience you hope to attract" ones, who definitely don’t.

Someone whose painstakingly detailed procedurally generated lichen exploration epic is making approximately nothing on would be a different story; probably not a successful different story; but actually ‘long tail’ enough to serve as a counterexample to that theory.


Anyone else disappointed that the link after this wasn’t real? :wink:


Sorry about that. Didn’t actually intend for it to become a link since it was a purely hypothetical example; the domain name just is the name in that case; but discourse was feeling helpful.

Maybe have one about rose genetic manipulation? Roses don’t understand the true power of fungal synergy, unlike lichens, which is their loss; but I don’t hold that against the game.


“There will always be someone to tell you that misery is self-improvement.”

AKA everyone I knew in law school?


I don’t stream for others so I don’t care about by zero live views. But I see these people in the support forums that are so desperate for fame it’s really sad.

Stream for fun, nothing more.


This just feels like just another example of modern capitalism sucking the joy out of socializing and gaming. To me, if I wanted to hang out with people I would get into an multiplayer game where I knew it wouldn’t be a toxic community rather than trying to do a Let’s Play stream in the hopes that I’ll make money or fame in the process. It makes me sad that our society keeps atomizing social relations this way as to prevent any kind of personal growth for anyone that’s not rich.


I teach Public Speaking to middle-schoolers and I’ve often used Twitch streamers as a real-world example of impromptu speaking.


You’ve met my last boss then?


Maybe there’s a need for a Seeing Aid service?

Precipice turns out to be a Utopian community of a few thousand people. The nearest comparison would be an agrarian, cottage industry community designed by William Morris. Precipice is also the home of “Hearing Aid”, an anonymous telephone confession service accessible to anyone in the country. Hearing Aid is also known as the “Ten Nines”, after the phone number used to call it: 999-999-9999. People call the service, a human operator answers, and they simply talk while the operator listens. Some rant, others seek sympathy, still others commit suicide while on the phone. Hearing Aid’s promise is that nobody else, not even the government, will hear the call. The only response Hearing Aid gives to a caller is “Only I heard that, I hope it helped.”


Almost two decades ago I ran my own personal blog. I watched my stats like a hawk. On a good day, I got 10-15 unique views. Most days it was more like 6. I knew every single one of them. It’s pretty special when one new reader/viewer shows up.



If I were to twitch stream I would exclusively focus on weird stuff involving procedurally-generated mutant mold cultivation, etc.

But I know I’d eventually fire up Caves of Qud, or fucking Minecraft, watch that audience jump, and feel the push of the invisible hand