Today there are more gamers in the world than ever. There are so many people playing video games that there’s an entire industry dedicated to watching video games as other people play.
It makes sense if you think about it, really. While it’s fun to play sports, that doesn’t stop millions around the world from watching the best athletes compete in sporting events. It’s the same with video games. There are games we’re good at, and those we’re not, but we can still enjoy watching them. Especially when players are very, very good at playing them.
So it should be no surprise that there’s an entire industry built around broadcasting live gameplay, also known as live streaming, and competitive matches you can watch online, which fall under the category of esports. Whether you want to watch video games or compete, here are some resources to get you started.
Where to watch
Esports have grown so popular that some of these games are broadcast on television. ESPN-3, Disney XD, and even ABC all carried portions of the Overwatch League finals for their viewers. Overwatch is a popular team player battle game created by Blizzard (no stranger to online entertainment, having created World of Warcraft among many others). League play includes players and coaches from around the world, competing in thrilling matches in real time with unique camera angles not available in the regular version of the game. It’s truly exciting to watch.
The biggest name in streaming games is Twitch.tv, which still has the largest number of broadcasters and viewers. It’s now part of Amazon, and the number of people watching has exploded over the past few years. Twitch has a very active community, plus lots of features to reward your favorite streamers. Ad deals sometimes help streamers make this their full-time gig, but for most players it’s just the fun of playing through a game, making comments, and interacting with other fans. Twitch can be viewed on just about anything, from mobile devices (via apps or browser), to computer browsers, to consoles like Xbox and PlayStation.
Microsoft decided to get in on this action by launching Mixer, available online and on Xbox. The community is still smaller than Twitch, but growing quickly as Microsoft has several nights each month dedicated to promoting the streams of players who regularly show up and participate. It’s a great way to find some of the newer players who are often playing new games. One of the best things about watching people play a video game online is that you get a real sense of what it’s like to play before you decide to buy the game for yourself.
YouTube has a streaming service called YouTube Gaming, although it’s not as popular as Twitch and Mixer. Still, it’s a familiar place for streamers from the other platforms because they’ll upload their edited live streams onto YouTube for their fans. Streamers like Markeplier, Jack Septiceye, CohhCarnage and others have millions of fans watching around the world thanks to live shows on other platforms as well as tons of content posted on YouTube. They provide a great gaming experience in videos that are often edits of video game streams.
Even Facebook has a gaming channel, though it’s still growing a bit. Facebook has over 2 billion potential audience members, more than just about anyone, and since it’s not as crowded as the other gaming sites, it can be a good way to see what this streaming stuff is all about before really diving in.