The Importance of Twitch.tv to Gamerdads
Five months ago, my wife and I had our first child, a son. And while parenthood has been rewarding, it has also meant that I no longer have time to play video games.
Sure, maybe it’s a small consolation, but video games have always played a big part in my life. As a kid, running games through the command line on my Commodore 64 sparked my interest in computers, and through my adolescence, running cables around my parents’ house so that I could play Diablo on LAN taught me about computer networks. Then, playing Quake and Ultimate Online on our 21.6k modem taught me about the internet. And through college, unbridled by parental supervision and driven by my natural competitiveness and limitless free-time, I even joined some of the best teams in the world and made a run at playing first-person shooter (“FPS”) games professionally on the tournament circuit.
Though, it was different back then; even though some of the matches were broadcast, similar to what Twitch.tv does now, they would rarely attract more than a hundred people for even the biggest matches. And, back in the early 2000’s, even winning the biggest tournaments would barely cover expenses after being split amongst the team, and sponsorship mostly consisted of free energy drinks and mouse pads.
Then, after graduating college, I like so many other gamers got too busy for gaming.
Between my 70+ hour/week day job, being in a relationship, and trying to start new companies on the side, there wasn’t much time for gaming anymore. I migrated from PC games to console and handheld games, where the upgrade cycles were cheaper and they were less demanding on my time. Still, I enjoyed playing online with friends whenever I could, which was usually on the weekend or between the hours of 10pm-3am, and this was how gaming was done between for most of my 20’s.
Then, when I was at Y-Combinator for Leaky, I first heard about Twitch, where I had office hours with Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, the founders of Justin.tv, where Twitch initially began. And, while I enjoyed watching the eSports tournaments and new game releases, it was still more of a novelty for me to accompany my own time spent playing video games.
But now, with a kid everything has changed.
Today, by most definitions, I don’t really have time to play video games anymore. Not really. Arguably, I have some time either late at night or on a mobile device while in the bathroom, but neither of those are really a good substitute. Especially, as late night gaming has become increasingly painful for me as a new parent, and I wasn’t alone on this – one by one, my online friends were dropping off for work or other obligations. Right now, my group of friends and I are at the point of trying to plan gaming time together somewhere between a few days to a week in advance.
This is where Twitch comes in.
While I think that Twitch is unique in it’s own right for bringing two-way media to people so that rather than just passively consuming whatever the television or radio is playing, you can communicate with the streamers in real-time. For me, it’s not about the lofty ideals of media disruption, but just a nice way to allow me to dip into serious video games without the time commitment.
For example, while getting ready for work, maybe I’ll tune into to see what some of the hardcore MMORPG players are doing, whether that’s leveling, questing, or just entertaining their audience. For me, I’d never have the time to enjoy anything outside of the newbie starting area, but through them I’m able to get an idea of what else the game has to offer. (see: [Cohh](twitch.tv/cohhcarnage) or [Ellohime](twitch.tv/ellohime))
Or, maybe while making dinner, I’ll watch part of a Counter-Strike stream to see what high-level Counter-Strike play looks like without having to personally invest hundreds of hours into becoming a better player. (see: [summit1g](twitch.tv/summit1g))
Or, while feeding the baby in the middle of the night, I’ll watch someone playing a newly released game or just one that I’ve never seen before and think, “Yeah, if I had the time, I’d totally play that.” (see: [MANvsGAME](twitch.tv/manvsgame)).
So, on behalf of busy gamerdads everywhere, who will one day re-unite and make a glorious return to video games, thanks for helping us stay in touch with our favorite pastime.