Depending on how it is used, the internet can be a very social platform, connecting strangers from around the world and helping families and friends stay in touch in ways that are easier than ever before.
When we think about interaction, platforms like Facebook and Twitter immediately spring to mind, while for much longer, email services have helped people correspond instantly wherever they are in the world.
But the internet is not always viewed positively from a perspective of socializing, sometimes seen as a portal for people to withdraw from face-to-face interaction. Media has been known to depict the stereotypical ‘nerd’ holed up in their bedroom playing video games.
That stereotype doesn’t always hold up, especially when you consider the wealth created in the tech sector during the last 50 years. Indeed, some of today’s millionaires and billionaires endured the nerd label in their earlier years.
And with new innovation, those perceptions are continuing to change. In this article, we will examine how live video is helping to transform internet gaming from being a solitary pursuit into being one of the most sociable hobbies around.
Gaming online has taken on a whole new dimension thanks to the emergence of streaming platforms and the so-called ‘let’s play’ genre of videos. Platforms like YouTube and specialist gaming hub Twitch are home to countless channels starring gamers sharing their passion with viewers.
Streamers often broadcast live, allowing fans to interact with the live video, ask questions and contribute to the conversation. The live aspect makes the experience much more social than just watching the video back days or weeks after it was the first broadcast.
But you don’t have to be a mega influencer to stream games. Modern consoles have functionality allowing players to share clips on the fly with other fans of the game, helping form the basis for conversations around a common interest. And it’s certainly true that new friendships are being formed this way.
Newer consoles, like Google Stadia, even offer players the opportunity to join games from watching a video, and the broader role of watching others play is gradually becoming much more influential in the gaming sector. And while some gamers continuing to practice the hobby as a way to escape the stresses of day-to-day life, others are utilizing it as a means of pro-actively connecting to others.
No more AI
Other gaming industries are experimenting with technology that removes the necessity of an AI (artificial intelligence), by instead utilizing live video and putting a real human being on the other side of the game as the opponent.
The online casino gaming industry has utilized this concept heavily during recent years, allowing players to speak to a real person while enjoying their favorite game. The world of live casino is helping the industry engage with a new generation of players who demand more from the experience than just glaring at graphics.
This is also helping to bridge the gap between land-based casinos and their online counterparts, and it is exciting to consider what the future might hold, especially where cross-over possibilities are concerned. For example, could it one day be possible to play a game of Blackjack at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, without leaving your couch?
Another factor behind this social evolution is the changing demographics of gamers. Recent reports show that there are more female gamers, while there has also been an increase in the number of older players. And it is those of a more mature age that are perhaps demanding more from their games, placing greater value on the importance of staying in touch with friends and family.
Consoles like the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii helped place a greater emphasis on engaging with players who perhaps hadn’t considered themselves as “gamers” previously. In particular, titles like Wii Sports combined physical activity with console gaming, also contributing to making traditional gaming more social during the last 10 to 15 years.
We hope this guide to the use of live video in internet gaming has helped shed some light on how the industry becoming more sociable than ever before. Brands throughout the industry are increasingly focusing on creating products that naturally build communities. And while gaming communities have been built around shared passions for years, it seems those bonds are now being built in real-time.
It remains the case that it’s hard to replicate the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation, but it’s fascinating to watch how technology is empowering us to build more real relationships through our devices. The gaming sector is playing a key role in that evolution and, across consoles, computers, and phones, that trend looks set to continue.