Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 04, 2015
 
Ridicule

Golfers are known to wear funny trousers and Amazon has quite a selection of books with jokes about golfers. Any hobby has its particular customs which, from the outside, look somewhat funny. Golfers apparently don't mind all that much, and are in fact the prime customers of those books of golfer jokes. That relaxed attitude to a bit of ridicule unfortunately isn't shared by video gamers.

American television host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel recently made a joke about gamers. Or rather he made jokes about the new Youtube game streaming service. The core of that joke was that he can't see why you would watch somebody else play a video game instead of playing the game yourself. And he has a point there: It is a very specific behavior which looks funny to the outside world. Making a harmless joke about extrapolating that to people who watch people watching people watch video games didn't really hurt anybody. But of course gamers didn't see it like that, providing Jimmy Kimmel with a far more harmful opportunity to read out the various death threats he received from gamers because of his initial joke.

Gamers are establishing themselves as one of those extremist fringe groups that you only need to lightly poke to get a huge reaction of outrage from. And already several TV comedians have discovered that. The *reaction* of gamers to just about anything tends to be so completely blown out of proportion that it provides endless perfect material for comedy. Somebody playing a video game isn't inherently funny, not funnier than somebody watching TV, and the activity is so mainstream now that it only allows for mild humor. But somebody overreacting, foaming at the mouth because of some mild criticism or joke is incredibly funny. Even Jimmy Kimmel would be stunned if he knew that those death threats were in fact *not* sent by "12-year old boys", as he thinks, but by grown men. There is a greater than zero probability that one of the offended gamers will do something stupid like sending a SWAT team to Jimmy Kimmel's house, or calling in a bomb threat on his plane (such stuff happened before), providing Jimmy with even more comedy material.

Public ridicule is impossible to beat. It is a war that gamers just can't win. The only way to deal with ridicule is to ignore it. As some gamers aren't very likely to do that, they'll be inviting even more ridicule, painting the rest of us in a bad light. That's a shame.

Comments:
The reaction is typical of the whole gamer/internet culture which is unfortunate.

I think Jimmy Kimmel knew what he was doing when he made the joke because you could make the same joke about anything else and it would not get the response it got.

He could have said the same thing about sports or literally anything else. I'm sure someone either on his writing team or himself figured out that if he just poked at gamers it would turn into a few days of comedy gold for his show and it has.
 
The thing one should have pointed out instead of foaming mouth that much more people watch sports than do sports.

I don't see any difference between someone sitting in a stadium watching other people playing baseball than someone watching other people playing video games on youtube. I see both of them equally dumb an this would be great comedy material for the last show of Jimmy Kimmel (because he'd work for any television after he'd ridicule sports fans).
 
Gaming has been my principal leisure activity for 30 years now, and _I_ can't see why you would watch somebody else play a video game instead of playing the game yourself.
 
If Jimmy REALLY wants to poke that group of gamers with a stick, he should bring up GamerGate.

 
@Gevlon-- I believe Jimmy made that connection in his follow up bit on the gamer comments; he said that yes, you should be outside playing sports instead of watching them.
 
Gamers are establishing themselves as one of those extremist fringe groups that you only need to lightly poke to get a huge reaction of outrage from.

...which is of course BAD BAD BAD. Gaming has taken some time to become mainstream (= you are not looked at funny or you prefer to hide the fact), but it seems that the current evolution is to attempt to go back to the stone age. Not only it will fail, but it'll do countless damage along the way.
 
I have no idea who Jimmy Kimmel is. This is the first time I ever even heard his name.

It's like when I'm following YouTube links and I jump to some band I never heard of and notice the video has 25m views. Then I casually drop the band's name into conversation at work, where half the people are 20-25 years younger than me, and no-one has a clue who I'm talking about.

 
If Jimmy REALLY wants to poke that group of gamers with a stick, he should bring up GamerGate.

That isn't news any more, and Stephen Colbert already did that on national TV.

Gaming has been my principal leisure activity for 30 years now, and _I_ can't see why you would watch somebody else play a video game instead of playing the game yourself.

I can see at least three reasons: Finding out whether a game is any good is often easier by watching it played than by reading a review. You can watch a video of a game being played as a sort of spoiler, e.g. for a jumping puzzle you can't figure out, or in preparation of a raid encounter. And I personally watch videos of tabletop RPG actual play sessions to improve my GMing skills. Still, I wouldn't spend hours watching videos like that, it is more for specific purposes for me.

because he'd work for any television after he'd ridicule sports fans

Why do you believe that? There are many, many comedians who have made jokes about sports fans and never suffered any bad consequences. If you think about it, the very concept of a "sports bar" is rather ridiculous and funny.
 
The reaction is typical of the whole gamer/internet culture which is unfortunate.

Somewhat related with yesterday's post, I think that gamers overestimate their power to shape public opinion. You can get a small group of people together and target a platform which has very low natural traffic; for example of thousands of copies of a game sold on Amazon, only a handful of people will leave a review. So organizing a hundred bad reviews for a game on Amazon then looks like a huge win and media power. Another favorite tactic is to enclose yourself in an echo chamber, like a specific forum, and bask in the glow of everybody agreeing with you.

In real terms that is all very small fish. Turning the full might of gamer opinion against somebody on national TV is like attacking an aircraft carrier with a pea shooter. Jimmy Kimmel has around 2 million viewers every show. The gamer outrage crowd is just a few thousand people, a small vocal minority even within the group of all gamers.
 
As someone who does watch a lot of games being streamed, a big part of it is the personalities of the players, as well as the community in the chat.

Other times it's a simple matter of seeing someone really good at what they do (pro player in whatever game) be REALLY GOOD at that thing, which for some reason feels nice.

And lastly, it's just great background noise, available right from my second screen or on the bus, and with the ability to jump in and engage more thouroughly if something seems interesting.


All that being said, i can easily see why some people see it as a bit silly, and it would be a lie to say i've never made any "hurr durr sportsball on the TV" jokes. Different strokes for different folks.
 
Maybe a nuance but watching his comeback to the outrage last night, I believe he said "watching others play games is a double waste of time". As in gaming already is - that's what got the drama lama crowd enraged.

But yes, gamer culture is touchy just the way marginalized groups tend to be. They lack self-irony more so than other groups because deep down inside, there is still an inferiority complex born out of not belonging. Ironically these dudes (similar to gamergaters) do not realize that their reactions completely out them as insecure and childish. Want gaming to be accepted as mainstream? Take a fucking joke and own criticism.
 
Why would anyone anyone watch someone else play a game when they could just play it?

The same reason people watch sports instead of playing them. I know its a joke, but it seems some people actually don't see the similarity between watching sports and video games. You can take any reason to watch a sporting event and apply it to games.
 
Not really *any* reason. A big draw of watching sports over playing sports is simple laziness, wanting to avoid the physical exertion. Playing a video game uses up a lot less calories than sports in the first place.
 
Syl said:
"Maybe a nuance but watching his comeback to the outrage last night, I believe he said "watching others play games is a double waste of time". As in gaming already is - that's what got the drama lama crowd enraged."

I wonder if he even realized the brutal irony of the fact that he said this on a TV show, which is... a waste of time in itself. So watching him bash people that double waste their time is a triple waste of time!

Oh snap! Now I just commented on THAT, which is a quaternary? (Is that even a word?) waste of time! Someone stop me!
 
@Smoke

Knowing Kimmel or Conan or any of these talkshow hosts, comedy is their business so of course they realize the irony! :D They just don't give a toss, that's the difference. They don't take themselves too seriously, nobody should. It's the usual smacktalk they do, harmless stuff.
 
A big draw to watching video games is lazyness. Some people are too lazy to get up and go ladder and try to get better in their game of choice.

Honestly I do that instead of laddering a lot in SC2 and in HotS.

Throw out another one I'm sure I can match it to video games again.
 
I agree with you 100%. The original video was inoffensive and sort of clever. I admit I laughed at the "watch someone watching someone playing video games" set-up. The gamer overreaction was unfortunate.

One certainly gets the impression that gamers (or at least gamers who pay attention to Jimmy Kimmel) are a thin-skinned bunch. I consider myself a gamer, but I'm confident that there's nothing Jimmy or any other comedian or late-night host can do which is going to endanger the burgeoning game industry, or my access to it.

 
"A big draw of watching sports over playing sports is simple laziness, wanting to avoid the physical exertion."

Which is why non-pro event's get basically the same viewer numbers as pro events, and why top-tier pro teams get basically the same viewer numbers as lower-tier pro teams.

Or, you know, people are drawn to watching the best in the world do X, which is why dozens of events that no one normally cares about are viewed during the Olympics, and why so many top-tier eSport players now earn more money than the average person via streaming.

Cracking jokes about game streaming today is like cracking jokes about rap in the 90s; it just shows that you are now officially an old person.
 
Are you saying that PewDiePie is the world's best video game player? I think your analogy between people watching the Superbowl and people watching a typical Twitch / YouTube stream falls way short. The most popular streams are far from the best players.
 
A big draw to watching video games is lazyness. Some people are too lazy to get up and go ladder and try to get better in their game of choice.

Honestly I do that instead of laddering a lot in SC2 and in HotS.

Throw out another one I'm sure I can match it to video games again.
 
@Tobold-- Stephen Colbert may have tackled GamerGate, but his audience doesn't intersect so much with the late night audience on the Big Three networks.

That said, the really over-the-top gamer comments will have made Jimmy Kimmel realize that he's got a built in punching bag whenever he needs it.

And can you imagine what he would do on television if he got doxxed? This is simply a no win scenario for that subset of the gamer crowd, but I don't think they know it.

 
"I can't understand how people who like videogames watch other people playing a videogame"

Now let me go home, there's Germany vs. France on tv!
 
Jimmy makes jokes about different people all the time, it's his job. I think the perceived mountain of rage against him when he made a joke about gamers is just because gamers are typing comments everyday. Make a joke about people going to the gym and how many will get off their cardiobike to write a comment? Like three? Gamers are sitting at the keyboard already and so thousands who can't take a joke write something hurtful a second later.

I don't normally watch others play video games, but when the mythic race for world first Hellfire Citadel was on I watched quite a lot of Falken streaming Danish Terrace progress including a couple of their first kills. It's just entertainment. Not much difference to watching TV, just a different story being told.

I have a season ticket for my favorite football club though and go to every home game and a few away games. Never played football myself but watching it live is fantastic. Don't care much for football on the TV though, stadium is where the fun is.
 
It takes way less effort to load up a stream than it does to play a game yourself. Especially if they're doing something particularly hard/tricky. Even if you're trying to get really good at a game you're better off spending most of your time watching other people play the game than playing it yourself. Just like how pro sports teams watch a lot of game film and don't just lift weights and run laps all day.

Nevermind that it actually is fun to watch other people play games. I played a lot of video games in University, but in many senses it was even more fun watching my roommates play and making comments to them. And with streaming you can make comments to the player too!
 
I think a lot of us grew up sharing controllers or advising a friend that was playing a game we sucked at actually playing. I know my group of friends used to sit around and strategize while only one of us actually used the controller to play X-Com. Watching other people play games online is an extension of that. And we can do it as grown ups without having to organize gaming nights with spouses.
 
Jimmy Kimmel likes to stir up fan wank. That is how he got started and made his name.

Come on, the fact that he did this spoof commentary on national tv attests to the popularity of game streaming and youtube gaming videos. Heck, imagine all the thinking and research that went into it to create this kind of spoof. It's even more funny if he doesn't enjoy video games. But since it is relevant and he has to make relevant jokes.

He is in the public eye now and attracting it all to his show. Mission accomplished.
 
@Tobold "Are you saying that PewDiePie is the world's best video game player? I think your analogy between people watching the Superbowl and people watching a typical Twitch / YouTube stream falls way short. The most popular streams are far from the best players"

You actually made a point that watching gaming streams is even better and more varied than watching sports. Some channels have the appeal of watching the pros doing their thing (i.e. the Superbowl analogy), other channels have the appeal of watching a personality you like practicing your favorite hobby. If fact, the majority of the viewers aren't there to watch some person playing a specific game, they are there to watch a specific person playing whatever.
 
I contest that this is a gamer specific problem. Any in-group detests an insult from the out-group. If Jimmy had self-identified as a gamer, then made the joke, he would've gotten more cheers from gamers than death threats.

I can't find a link to it, but there was a study comparing the response of Americans to two different statements: "We Americans need to do better" and "You Americans need to do better." Across all demographics, the statement that implied an in-group source was far more positively received than the statement implying an out-group source.
 
Dude, gaming has gotten enough attention that streaming and watching streams has Jimmy Kimmel talking about it! Why can't we just take this a win?
 
Just found this...

https://i.imgur.com/QL5um1j.jpg
 
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