I love watching people who are highly skilled at what they do, whether this be watching the Olympics, for example, or watching time lapse videos of people painting or drawing. Then there are various ways to watch people play video games. I don’t watch too many streamers or gaming YouTube videos but for those who do I can only imagine the pressure that can be placed on their shoulders (or controller).
Recently I watched Nathan Ditum of PlayStation Access stream for (their first) PlatiMonday with the intention of completing the final two trophies and then gaining the platinum for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Nathan did this with a stream lasting just over 4 hours 30 minutes and got himself the platinum. Watching this stream, however, I was disappointed to hear that he was getting comments about this being surprising that he was doing so well and how is this the same guy from Metal Gear Stupid, another series they are running.
The difference, and I would have thought it was obvious, is that Nathan has spent time in Sekiro, practicing and honing his skills over time and has got used to what he needs to do in this game. Metal Gear Stupid covers him and co-presenter David Jackson, as the stupid, playing a Metal Gear Solid title for the first time under restrictive circumstances, that is no CODEC calls and the only help can come from Rob Pearson who is watching and reacting in another room. Rob, a fan of the Metal Gear series to put it mildly, acts as the CODEC and font of all Metal Gear knowledge. This series also means that they are experiencing the game for the first time whilst being recorded, having to have some form of interaction with the game and each other and passing the pad at relevant points as well as creating interesting and enjoyable videos. If they were perfect at this game that they were playing for the first time the series would not have the same appeal or be as interesting.
If you play a game for the first time you are not necessarily going to be good at it. If you play a game for the first time whilst trying to create good content for a video series you aren’t necessarily going to become fantastic overnight. Adding to this when you try to go through it and pass the pad any improvements can take longer. Then there is also the game choice, one that you would actively choose for yourself versus one that you may pass by would suggest that one may be more in tune with your gamer style than the other and therefore your skill may be more aligned with the first option. However, for some people this didn’t seem to be clear.
I love watching gamers that you relate to. I love watching Access for their chat but also when they stream they aren’t necessarily perfect although it is clear that they love games. As a gamer, I want to see that people can improve, that people don’t automatically know what to do and don’t start out as amazing at whatever game. Basically, I love seeing people I can relate to. I am never perfect at the point I first picked up the controller and begin a game. In fact sometimes it is several hours in and I realise I have made some mistakes or unintentionally made things harder for myself. For instance, when I played the first Mass Effect for the first time I spent ages finding the first main plot progression really difficult for a new player as when given the choice of Noveria, Feros or Therum I chose Noveria. I found this difficult and unfortunate for several reasons, one being I was not skilled enough going into the Matriarch Benezia fight and I realised after furthering the game I missed out on interesting story points by not having found Liara first. So this fight was a struggle. After a quick search, whilst trying to avoid spoilers, I saw several comments that this mission was best done last. Stubbornness and my desire to carry on meant I did it. Eventually, after several deaths and having to get smarter, even if not better at that stage, I completed it. I didn’t know about these recommendation beforehand. However, when I eventually do another playthrough I am not doing this mission first out of those three. I learnt having made my mistakes. If anyone saw my initial attempts they may question if I would finish the game or if I had any skill level at games at all. I did this in private without an audience so I can only imagine how streamers, journalists, YouTube gamers and anyone else that records their gameplay or completes games in front of an audience can feel when their first attempts are seen.
Some of the YouTube gaming videos out there can hide the deaths, general stupid mistakes or the times where the gamer isn’t sure of where to go and similar. Basically they, if they choose to edit these out, can hide the “real” parts that I can relate to. If you saw me play certain games you would wonder if I had any skills at all when I get lost or fall off the same ledge for the hundredth time because I mistimed a jump or similar. Other games, when I have spent time with it and know what I’m doing and have actively played a lot recently you could think I have some level of skill.
With streaming this hiding of the practice attempts is less likely to happen in the same way. However, streaming from your first time playing differs to streaming a game you know and love. Most of the time people can see which category a given stream belongs to but there will be people, for instance young people, that feel downhearted that they aren’t that good at the game. When I was younger I didn’t experience the same thing because you could only compare yourself to friends and family and that meant you didn’t really know how skilled you were or otherwise.
We live in a world when the answers are at our fingertips and if we get stuck on a game a quick search means finding a video, a guide and walkthrough all within a couple of clicks by someone, or some people, who appear more skilled than us. Then we also live in a world where “git gud” is thrown about if anyone appears less skilled at a given game or plays at a lower difficulty level than someone else deems acceptable.
I can only imagine the pressure full time, or even part time and hobby, content creators in gaming are under as these comments will be directed their way more than the average watcher realises. I hope that young people growing up watching streams and videos realise that they aren’t worse for taking time to learn the ins and outs of games and how to play well. Additionally, I hope that viewers remember to offer support to content creators who put themselves out there with games that they aren’t good at, either by being a genre they are not confident in or by being a game that they haven’t played before for example. It is tough to be told you aren’t good, or that it is surprising you are doing well because you are normally rubbish at games, or whatever backhanded compliment that can come along. Remember we are all different, with game preferences and skill levels, but we all start out new. We all deserve supportive comments when we try new games and are trying to learn a new game in front of an audience. Additionally, we deserve support just for putting ourselves out there as, from what I have seen, video related content creation requires confidence and a thick skin. Be supportive of your favourite content creators and remember to be kind.
Do you ever feel perfect gamer pressure or that you aren’t good enough to create video game content? Let me know in the comments.