「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


YouTube gamers

By Patrick St. Michel


Growing up, I was obsessed with video games. The first stop once I got home from school would be the TV, to plow through The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario 64 until my mom threatened punishment for avoiding homework.

Yet since coming to Japan, I've rarely picked up a controller and own zero video game systems. I simply lack the time to properly devote to the newest Pokemon game. Recently, though, I've discovered I do have the time to watch other people play games.

I've become enamored with the world of YouTube gamers. These are people who simply film themselves playing various video games, while talking about them and reacting to what's happening. It sounds silly, but some of YouTube's biggest creators found the spotlight by offering witty commentary while playing games. They include Markiplier and jacksepticeye — not to mention PewDiePie, who has the most subscribers of anyone on YouTube.

There is the same phenomenon in Japan, and it has roots in TV. Numerous game shows in the 1980s featured regular folks playing video games against one another. (There were similar TV shows in the United States in the 1990s.) The arrival of Japanese video site Nico Nico Douga in the mid-2000s allowed anyone to broadcast videos of themselves playing games and chatting.

Now YouTube is the hub for this world in Japan. The popular 2Bro channel features two guys who play everything from first-person shooting games to puzzle games while cracking jokes. They post videos almost every day and have almost 2 million subscribers. YouTube gamers can make even more money from sponsorships or selling their own merchandise.

I used to think this whole enterprise was deeply goofy. Honestly, I still do. But I also find the videos somewhat relaxing to watch. I first realized this while watching Cuphead, a fast-moving game where a cartoon cup fights a bunch of colorful bosses. It's a very hard game, forcing the player to move the character past a blizzard of projectiles. I could see myself breaking numerous controllers out of frustration if I had played it when I was a teenager.

But watching someone else go through these challenges is soothing and entertaining. And also really funny. Maybe I'm bored of regular TV shows, where everything is plotted out. Gamer videos include all the mistakes and restarts in them. Watching the cartoon cup die over and over again — and hearing the YouTuber scream out in frustration — is different.

It's an unlikely addition to my entertainment schedule in 2018, but one I've enjoyed. Plus, I save a lot of money by not having to buy a Nintendo Switch when I can just watch others enjoy it.



The Japan Times ST: February 2, 2018

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版