Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Teach, entertain, fail
When discussing games, people frequently disagree for a very simple reason: They are looking for very different things. One person wants to be challenged to the max, while another just wants to have a relaxing experience. You can see how these two people would for example have a very different opinion of a game like Elden Ring. Or of Dorfromantik (and that applies to both the video game and the board game, which just won the prestigious "Spiel des Jahres" award. Congratulations!). This looking for different things not only applies to the games themselves, but also to streamed content about those games.
Jagged Alliance 3 is not the easiest or most accessible game. So the story is making the rounds of one streamer who decided to play on the hardest difficulty, streamed for many hours, and didn't get off the tutorial island because he repeatedly failed and restarted. Clearly, he wanted to be challenged. And ideally, a streamer playing a game at a high difficulty level and just succeeding can be very interesting to the audience, as it teaches you how to play the game optimally. A streamer failing at a game targets a different audience: It can be entertaining, and a spectacular fail can be considered comedy. "Rage quit" videos can become quite popular.
It does however pose a problem for the audience, because it isn't always really clear for which audience the video is meant. Imagine you want to watch a YouTube video on how to make a ceramic vase on a pottery wheel, and the person making the vase in the video spectacularly fails. That might not be the video you have been looking for. Fortunately on YouTube the video that would actually teach you something is probably called something like "how to make a vase", while the video showing the fail is more likely to be called "pottery fails". People streaming video games don't usually name their videos like that. Both the "how to" and the "fail" video might be called "Let's play Jagged Alliance 3". Which means the audience needs to go through several videos to find the one they are looking for.
The great teach and the spectacular fail are just two extremes. The large majority of video game streams fall into that very general "let's play" description. Some regular person with medium skill plays a video game with average success, while chatting about it. Many of them play different video games over time, and people follow them because they find the person sympathetic and his comments entertaining; but the information you get about a game from such a video are more general, and they usually aren't the best to learn how to play a game better. The fundamental difficulty is probably that the streamer doesn't know beforehand whether the video he is producing will be great to teach the game, or just generally entertaining, or fail comedy, and so he uses a very general label for his stream / video. That doesn't help the person looking for a specific form of content.