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Nate Cull

In 1987 we thought the future of entertainment would be people playing interactive movies and TV shows, so they could get right inside the story.

In 2017 the cutting edge of entertainment is TV shows of other people playing videogames so you don't have to.

· Web · 14 · 18

@natecull I... would not say that what I'm doing is "cutting edge"

@pnathan I... kinda do understand it for games that you can't be bothered playing and don't intend buying but are sort of curious about what the story is.

But watching other people play Overlegends of the Ancient Watch II? I don't get that at all.

(I don't get *playing* those kind of games either tbh.)

@natecull @pnathan

> why one would self-limit

Time is finite?

I mean, some people want to get an idea of what the game is actually like from videos of actual gameplay, since trailers tend to be somewhat unrepresentative -- and some people really just wanna see the story, not play the game. (Plus, watching someone play through who knows what they're doing, on a game with a high difficulty, is FASTER than actually playing through.)

Different people got different priorities.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan right.

The point being that it's interesting what what we originally thought was a huge feature of games (immersivity! interactivity! a story that responds to YOU! a world you can get lost in for hundreds of hours!)

... has actually turned out to be a massive anti-feature for a lot of people who just want to 'cut to the chase and find out how it ends'.

@natecull @pnathan

well, I can see why it'd seem that way

but my take (and maybe this is silly)

is more that it's like projections of things

a 2d representation of a 3d image can't exactly represent it but we know such-and-such arrangement of lines is an 'isometric view of a cube', or three squares with certain rules in place is 'different views of a cube'

so some people want to see the 'movie' of the game -- not play the game -- it's just a different representation of the experience

@pnathan @natecull

it reminds me in a way of watching MirrorMask -- EVERY frame of that movie looks like a piece of art, to me -- every single frame

none of those single frames 'is' the movie, but they're beautiful in their own way, and each of them tells a strange little story of their own -- someone's hiding, someone's finding, that kind of thing

some people don't want to be immersed


some people don't need to be 'in control' to feel immersion anyway

I get lost in movies

@natecull @pnathan

lost in books

lost in games

besides -- I've played plenty of compelling games on rails

I don't think 'interactive' is required for 'immersive'

it HELPS and it can be VERY useful in some ways

but I don't think it's required

@sydneyfalk @pnathan I think there's something also about the rise of social networking.

Videogames can be profoundly private and anti-social. In order to 'socialise' the experience and make it shareable, the interactivity has to be removed.

Where this line of thought leads, I'm not sure. That's why it's interesting.

@pnathan @sydneyfalk But, for example...

... MMORPGs are hostile BOTH to sociability AND personal control.

When the doorbell rings, and you're playing a single-player game, you just hit Escape and freeze the game.

if you're playing a raid in an MMORPG, whoops, now you have to choose which of your friends / social group to disappoint.

And then with movies, you can freeze a frame or take a sequence and discuss it. You can't easily pull out a *playable* subsequence of a game. Has to be a movie.

@natecull @pnathan

> raid

I don't MMO, but that particular incident doesn't mean the interactivity's gone, it means the real world's a factor, and it always has been. I paused some NES game I can't remember once, an action somethingorother, when I had to go to sleep at night so I could finish up the next day.

My mom turned it off thinking it was on 'by accident'.

And this was in the days before saves were a thing and this game had no passwords. O_O ...

@pnathan @natecull

(I found out years later that it was one of those games intentionally designed to be difficult to prevent renting-and-beating. I had BOUGHT it. Sigh.)

> subsequence

I believe Tiny Tina's Assault On Dragon Keep would disagree with you on this. ;P

But really, there's plenty of DLCs that are effectively entire playable side stories, that a person could (in theory) play almost none of the main game and ONLY go play the DLC instead. Wouldn't that count?

@natecull @pnathan

Besides which -- personal control has always been at the mercy of the developer. Could MMO devs, in theory, create an option for a party in a raid to pause? Sure. Wouldn't be instant, but a short vote, pause game. Totally doable.

Would they?

Probably not, in part (IMO) because interruptions means a chance for the addicted players to wander off and focus on anything else. >_> <_< Forgive my cynicism.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan What I'm saying is that we sort of don't yet have a technological framework for pulling out small clips of an interactive medium, like we do for text or even movies.

Even movies didn't really have the ability to pause and rewind until the rise of videotape, and then Youtube.

So maybe 'game streaming' is making do with what technology we do have, rather than the one that might ultimately be best for the medium.

@pnathan @sydneyfalk Soooo, since, eg, MMOs and online gaming is one of the dominant gaming forms, YET it's so absolutely hostile to real-world commitments - you MUST have a raiding group, you MUST have all trained and have gear, you MUST be online at the same time, you MUST not quit or pause the raid - then if you're only kinda interested, it's just far easier to stream someone else playing it than to play it yourself.

When in the DOS era, we'd just play it, and have the same convenience.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan the point is this seems.... a pretty big failure of the gaming model, actually.

Why not just cut out the 'game' part and go back to making movies, if the majority of people are only ever going to watch and not play?

@natecull @sydneyfalk @pnathan because 5 million players * $14.95 is a lot of gross monthly income to try and replace with a series of films consistently

@pnathan @sydneyfalk

In other words we've seen an evolution of media like:

live performance -> movies -> personal interactive games -> live performances of online games -> movies of people performing live in online games -...>

@natecull @pnathan

If some games require that amount of skill, well, hell -- why not? It's like basketball -- some people will play it with their friends, some people play it with such natural talent and train so hard that they luck into NBA contracts and get WATCHED by millions of people on television, and hundreds live -- and some of those people play basketball with their friends on the weekends too.

I don't see it as a failure, just an evolution of a sort.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan I guess so - I don't really grasp the point of watching televised sports, either, so I'm obviously not part of the mainstream demographic.

@natecull @pnathan

I don't watch televised sports myself -- but I get that for some people it does...something I don't get, for them. They actually get something out of it, some sense of belonging to a team, and seeing that play out.

The story of victory and defeat plays out in a sort of arena, in both cases -- and in both cases, people apparently want to at least be part of it vicariously.

I mean, I like eating mustard and pickle sandwiches with American cheese. Everybody's different.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan I wonder if we will get to the point where videogame snobs shout 'sssh' at everyone streaming

"It's disrespectful to the artform, that's what it is!"

... also, if it weren't for copyright enforcement, people would TOTALLY stream movies too.

@natecull @pnathan

...people do.

Before (and I think still!) MST3k's rights got reverted back to people who weren't shitty about them all the time, a few little places popped up that collected different links -- and refreshed broken ones with newly uploaded videos in other places -- to almost all the MST3k episodes that ever existed.

I mean, people stream "unboxing". What the hell is the point of that? As far as I can tell it's to give you the FEELING of opening up something, sans the stuff.

@pnathan @natecull

I know a brother of a good friend who makes videos about train signals and radio transmissions that occur during train operations. I cannot imagine the target audience for that, but it isn't me.

But that's okay.

Everything, in some sense, for some people, is worth making a video about, just like for some people it's worth writing an essay about or having a website about or what-have-you.

Or, y'know, making another microblogging tool that isn't Twitter. ;D

@natecull @pnathan

I would say it's not a failure -- it's a bridge.

If a video game is essentially a tool for making the visual and audio experience of the game, while providing a 'world' that gives you feedback on the game and responds to your actions, then you're giving creative space to the 'players', even as some people choose to remain pure 'audience'.

It's machinima-toolset-building, in some senses.

@natecull @pnathan @sydneyfalk I would suggest that the LPers I engage with are certainly interactive. On a slower timescale, but I make suggestions (after careful consideration, and with the right citations because academic) and they are oftentimes incorporated on the strategic level.

There *is* a feedback loop, but in days, not seconds.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan @natecull and... now time for me to duck out and continue hitting ConTeXt with a stick.

@DenubisX @natecull @pnathan

Well, yes, but then we're veering into HUMAN interactivity, and that's a topic I usually do better to avoid discussing. ;)

@sydneyfalk @natecull @pnathan It is also benefical in terms of meatbag ... interaction, because the domain is so *Very* constrained.

I cannot deal with twitch *at all*. But the thoughtful and slow pace of smallish youtube folk is *just right*.

... I am a bad meatbag.

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@natecull @pnathan @sydneyfalk So... I consume a *lot* of youtube LPs. (lots and lots and lots). And... it's about rationing the game, and about sharing it in a community and about hearing someone else think about the game.

@DenubisX @sydneyfalk @pnathan I guess videogames, as a video artform, need (or are *allowed to have!*) video criticism to grow a critical community.

Though there's been plenty of text writing about film. But maybe copyright got in the way of there being such a massive surge of video about film? Or is there still?

@natecull @pnathan @sydneyfalk mmmm, criticism is not quite the content I engage in (though it's also excellent when done thoughtfully). It's... more a "Let's all go do this thing together, and I can get into your head and see *Why* you're playing the way you do.)

@DenubisX @sydneyfalk @pnathan right, but such a mass Internet-streaming scene doesn't really exist for, eg, film watching, does it?

Or does it? I imagine any massive "Let's Watch" video streaming service would get instantly banhammered by the RIAA, and it's just a quirk of history that videogame streaming (because it doesn't replace interactivity, so the product can still be bought) hasn't.

@natecull @DenubisX @pnathan

Nah, there's PLENTY of video about film. Copyright law states you can have excerpts of things for reviews of them, and I think that's got some precedent now for videos -- they can have CLIPS, they can't have the whole movie.

I've seen at least half a dozen videos of people speculating about what The Defenders series on Netflix will mean for JJS2, IFS2, LCS2, and DDS3, frex. With clips, not just ones from the trailers.

@sydneyfalk @DenubisX @pnathan Right, but the point of game streaming is that *you stream the entire thing*. The entire experience. Title screen to end credits.

There's nothing like this in previous legally-available media criticism other than DVD commentaries (restricted to the creators) or annotated editions of books (restricted to academia).

This mass 'watch me perform an entire piece of commercial media, unedited' thing seems.. something else.

@natecull @DenubisX @pnathan

I've watched videos of stage performances before.

I'm not seeing the huge difference, except that the stage performances were monetized as "films" in their own right.

@sydneyfalk @pnathan The difference to me is that *there isn't a huge commercial infrastructure for mass personal streaming videos of stage performances*.

in fact, it's kinda illegal and you get in huge trouble if you do?

Theatres and concert halls are all very definitely 'NO CAMERAS' and stuff.

If the world made sense, if we had Twitch et al, we'd have a where millions of people post fuzzy live phone videos of stageplays and concerts.

@natecull @pnathan

Film media had a giant industrial backing long before cheap cameras became widely available -- that's really the only reason NO CAMERAS got to be a thing in those venues, IMO. RIAA/MPAA legal muscle, little else.

Blame Jack Valenti. I do! ^_^

@natecull @pnathan When the channel is oriented towards teaching strategy, I can get it. Beaglerush, for example - while he does make efforts to be entertaining in his streams, he's also very much about demonstrating and explaining strategy and mechanics.

But he's pretty much the only streamer I know of who's doing that kind of thing. And it's oriented towards a very particular type of games (mostly RTS, but he used to play a lot of ARMA and now plays some PUBG).