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Twitch.tv – Reshaping The Role Of The Viewer

Twitch.tv – Reshaping The Role Of The Viewer

Filed inside: Editorial

In just a few short years, twitch.tv has had a tremendous impact on not only the gaming industry but how fans interact with games and each other. The site offers anyone with some minimal technical know-how to broadcast their games to the public in real time. The service has since become more popular than social media staples like Facebook. Within the limitations of the channel, gamers and developers have found ways of incorporating the “crowd” into your living room.

Even the newest consoles from Sony and Microsoft are jumping on the twitch.tv bandwagon, featuring direct streams to twitch.tv directly from the console. Beyond just the ability to share gameplay with one another, many gamers utilize the platform for tabletop games with friends or roundtable discussions among professional gamers. E-Sport events like MLG, Blizzcon, and the like dominate viewership while others have weekly broadcasts more akin to traditional television.

SaltyBet.com was launched due to the popularity of its stream where viewers bet fake money on the outcome of an AI 2D fighter called M.U.G.E.N. This title is an open sourced game where “authors” import sprites from new and classic titles to pit them against existing characters. If the idea on gambling on the outcome of a battle between Scorpion from Mortal Kombat vs. Homer Simpson sounds appealing, we’d recommend you check it out – it runs 24/7!

Very recently, “Twitch plays Pokemon” became a thing.  That is, a game of Pokemon red/blue with all the button inputs coming directly from viewers via chat. If you think a crowd-sourced game of Pokemon would be chaotic, you are correct. The action onscreen is akin to simply letting cats walk across the keyboard, especially at peak viewership hours. Even though the end result leaves something to be desired, the core concept here is a refreshing idea which, if implemented correctly on the right game could be revolutionary.

In addition, developers have already taken note of the site’s popularity. Zombie Studios, who have worked in a way for viewers to control the pacing of their upcoming procedural horror title, Daylight. Viewers of the game will be able to control the scares the game offers through twitch.tv. While we have to wait until April to see how effective this will be (although we’re prepping for a spam-fest) we hope that other developers will find unique ways to include viewer participation.

With any new form of entertainment however, it won’t be long until the legal eagles soar over its majestic lands, especially with the pace of its growth and more than likely, its wallets. Players to date have been able to stream any title without repercussion, however the legal ramifications have yet to really be ironed out. For example, if a streamer is listening to music in the background and is picked up by the mic used for chat, and thus, is broadcast on their stream, are they liable for breaching copyright laws or are they protected under fair use? Obviously twitches legal team has specific text which forbids this, to date it really hasn’t been enforced.

With e-sports gaining momentum, and the industry as a whole embracing twitch.tv with open arms, we’re exited to see how it will continue to evolve. While we do see great things in the future for Twich.tv and it’s inevitable competitors we hope it steers clear of the legal black hole that other sites like YouTube have fallen into.

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Written by Bill Hawken

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