Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance

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The video game industry has captivated the attention of a global audience of enthusiastic players. Consumer spending on gaming in the United States alone amounted to $36 billion in 2017, while the value of the video game market in the United States was recorded at $18.4 billion in 2017.  The gender differential with video gamers in the United States has shifted from a largely male-dominated bias in 2006 (62% male/38% female) to a more evenly-distributed paradigm in 2018 (55% male/45% female). A move towards equality is evident in the number of female players engaged in the social gaming arena.

 Source: Distribution of computer and video gamers in the United States from 2006 to 2018 by gender Statista

What Constitutes A Digital Game?

Digital games take place whenever a player interacts with an electronic system for entertainment purposes. Thus, the critical component in the equation is the electronic device or computer. Digital games take place online or off-line. Single player functionality or multiplayer functionality can be enjoyed with digital games. Nowadays, digital games are enjoyed on consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation, or Xbox, PCs, MacBooks, and mobile devices. Internet connectivity facilitates real-time, multiplayer functionality with gamers all over the world.

No discussion of Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance is complete without paying tribute to the author of the eponymous book. Kiri Miller wrote a fascinating body of work spanning 272 pages, detailing three unique case studies. The book delves into the lives of players in the participatory culture of video games. Song and dance are integral components of the gaming milieu, evidenced by the advent of rhythmical games such as Rocksmith, Guitar Hero, and the popular Rock Band. Virtual performance, video games, and music have now coalesced in a pulse-pounding milieu where players and their avatars are engaging and interacting with immersive environments in real time.

This study goes to great pains to understand the causal relationships between virtual musical instruments and the adoption of real musical instruments by players. Indeed, evidence suggests that players of video games like Rock Band were influenced to begin playing real musical instruments. Various pedagogical lessons are presented in her insightful book, with online musical lessons through YouTube and the efficacy thereof. While no hard and fast conclusions are drawn between cultural nuances, musical canons, and traditional narratives, virtual gaming removed many of the barriers to entry for performers.

Imagination Creating Realities: A Collaborative Work of Art

Time Magazine penned an interesting op-ed titled, ‘Video Games Are One of The Most Important Art Forms in History’, written by Chris Melissinos. The author explored this medium as one of the most significant forms of artistic expression available to humanity. By expanding the proverbial canvas from a physical realm to a digital realm, game creators and players alike get to express themselves in a robust and fully immersive way. Dubbed a ‘collision of art and science’, video games have become the ultimate form of interactive expression.

Game developers have successfully combined a multitude of elements including 3D imaging, animation, dynamism, and creative narratives. The fusion of elements allows the game creator, the player, and the game to exist in an entirely unique artistic dimension. The games are governed by the innate constructs of the game creator. Players are free to express themselves within this entertaining realm, connecting with in-game elements and creating art in the process. This digital arena allows players to enjoy deeper insight into our world.

The imaginative flair of players is perhaps best exemplified by interactive digital games where real-world elements merge with the IoT. We see examples of this with augmented reality apps and virtual reality interfaces designed to blur the lines between corporeal and surreal elements. Video games span multiple themes, from the volcanic Hawaiian Islands and titles like Aloha! Cluster Pays to ancient-Egyptian adventures with games like Eye of Horus, and intergalactic quests in games like Starburst. Game creators provide the platform for players to explore a treasure trove of possibilities. The resulting experience is often deemed transformational.

YouTube and Gaming

YouTube is the #1 biggest social media platform in the world. It is a veritable playground of interactive entertainment for gaming enthusiasts, boasting hundreds of millions of active subscribers, and a smorgasbord of game reviews, gaming sites, gameplays, and entertainment options. In fact, YouTube Gaming actually features interactive video game content that players can enjoy on-demand, and in live gaming sessions.

The YouTube Gaming channel is dedicated to players wanting to watch YouTube Gaming videos. It is an exclusive haven for gaming content, although gaming videos are also available on the regular YouTube site. Interactivity is possible through livestream YouTube Gaming content, bringing a worldwide audience of players into the fold in real time.

YouTube set up YouTube Gaming in response to Twitch. The focal point of this social media hub is gaming-related activity – nothing else. By navigating to, players can instantly access this powerful gaming channel with 60 FPS (60 frames per second) across all devices. By providing on-demand content and live content, YouTube Gaming is cutting into Twitch’s dominance of the video gaming market.

Nowadays, gamers have become social media influencers for their fans. Gaming consoles like the Xbox, and PlayStation allow automatic video recording which can then be posted to YouTube Gaming. However, the best video-game content is expertly prepared by players using a combination of hardware and software systems. By using video capture devices such as AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable, Roxio Game Capture HD Pro, or Elgato Game Capture HD60S, it is possible to add live commentary to content.

The most popular video games in the digital arena include Minecraft, Overwatch, PUBG, CS: Go, League of Legends, Metro Exodus, Mortal Kombat 11, Crackdown 3, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and dozens of other titles. The virtual performance skills garnered by players with video games has been remarkable.

This is especially true with navigational components in games, where players are required to use controls, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination for greater efficiency. There is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that topographical orientation abilities are enhanced in people who play video games. While fine-tuning their skills for entertainment purposes, these players are simultaneously developing real-life abilities in the process. Game creators and enthusiastic players now occupy a unique virtual space to evolve into anything they want.

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