People like to play sports and they like to watch sports (and pretend for a moment they can Be Like Mike.) Now, thanks mainly to better technology, people who like to play video games can watch others play video games.
A championship tournament last October for League of Legends, an arena battle game, streamed around the world, attracting 8.5 million simultaneous online viewers at its peak — the same as the peak viewership for the deciding game of professional hockey’s Stanley Cup finals in June.
As to the motivation of viewers, the Times has this:
Twitch’s viewers aren’t removed from the action. They learn tactics for their own play, revel in the inside jokes and bond with fellow gamers.
Sort of like golf fans.
And we get a glimpse of the future of other sports:
Because professional gamers often practice on sites like Twitch, fans can get behind-the-scenes peeks at practice sessions by their favorite players. The more generous ones even invite fans to play a round with them.
“Imagine if LeBron James and Michael Jordan, in every practice and every live N.B.A. game, had a GoPro camera strapped to their chest and they had an earbud where they can hear people ask direct questions and occasionally answer it when they’re playing,” said Dennis Fong, 37, an early professional gamer who is the new chief executive of Raptr, a social network for gamers. “That level of access is unprecedented.”
Television needs limitless content. And of course, future leagues will be vexed with allegations of match-fixing, drug abuse (snorting Adderall?) and labor unrest as gamers unionize. I can hardly wait.