If you’ve been on the internet too long, there’s a chance you recognize the name Pewdiepie. Not because that name is awful (though it is), or because the person behind it is awful (he seems fine), but because this man (or boy) is the King Shit of internetting. He internets better than all of us. We know this by the annual reports of how much money he makes from YouTube, which is in the tens of millions. In fact, he’s YouTube’s biggest star. He plays video games.
Now sure, the video game landscape has changed dramatically in the 30 or so years it’s been a real force in home entertainment. The difference between an Atari 2600 and an Xbox One is pretty remarkable. However, for some of us, one thing will remain constant no matter how advanced video games get, and that is that watching someone else play a game as boring as shit.
For those who can’t be bothered, that’s a speed run of the NES Final Fantasy. It’s only three hours and 50 minutes. What else do you have to do?
So the fact that this is boring is obviously not true for many a millennial, who will happily stare at a screen and enjoy someone else having fun while they silently do not participate in the fun, and instead maybe sip on a Monster energy drink while gloomily masturbating and wishing it was their Solid Snake having all that fun. I don’t know. There are all kinds of potential upsides for that viewer. Maybe they’re learning strategy for when they do play, or simply enjoying an advanced view of levels or zones they haven’t encountered. Maybe they want to know how to solve a tricky puzzle or find some certain loot. All valid reasons to look up someone else playing a game and watch.
Back in 2014, the top 100 gaming channels pulled in 3.5 billion views a month, and odds are that’s only increased. The number of active gaming channels is literally impossible to determine, since new ones keep popping up, but for the sake of argument, you can put it at thousands. Billions upon billions of hours of people playing Mario blindfolded or freaking out at Call Of Duty or using hilarious witticisms and virtual bullets to slay opponents, all while millions of viewers just sit and watch someone else having fun.