Every generation prior to the current one is always held with such esteem. And they always lament the next generation. They were the hard-workers and this next one is lazy. We know how the world works. They’ll be lucky if they can tie their shoe laces correctly.
I heard the same things said about the Generation Xers that are now being said about the Millenials. And I’m pretty sure in a few years we’re going to hear that the Millenials are worried the world is going to go downhill with the generation after them.
I try not to judge too harshly. I want to understand where other people’s thoughts and experiences have taken them. And maybe I don’t always agree with them about any number of things, I’m also not entirely sure I’m the one who is correct.
I loved video games growing up. The Atari was played as much as humanly possible, and when everyone else had a Nintendo, I begged my parents for one of those. As the years have gone on I’ve gone through many gaming systems and it is probably only in the last few years I haven’t played as much as I might like (given the quality of today’s games).
However, there is a weird (to me) phenomenon where a whole generation of kids aren’t necessarily playing the video games themselves, but are instead going online to watch others play the games. I don’t know if I even knew about this being a thing until South Park ran an episode a few years ago “#REHASH”.
And it is clearly big business as it shows up on my tv some late nights on TBS or ESPN. The other night I saw a show where they were breaking down a Street Fighter Tournament like it was the NCAA March Madness selection show. And while I might watch out of curiosity for a little while, mostly shows like that make it where I’d just rather play something myself.
During our annual family beach trip, I saw that my nephew is one of those kids who watch Youtubers (is that even the correct word?) for hours upon hours. Now he also plays some games, but there is a definite joy for him by simply watching and listening to other people playing.
So I decided to run an impromptu interview with my nephew in an effort to get to the bottom of this (and did a follow up on the phone). But as with anything asked of him, he can be a bit evasive to actually give answers.
Who is your favorite person on Youtube to watch?
Why is that?
Ah, I see. Not going to give me very much to go on already. That was OK, though, I had ways of making people talk.
So what’s the deal with watching other people playing video games on Youtube all day?
I don’t know.
Hmm, this might be a tougher nut to crack than I first thought.
Well, you like watching them, right?
Right. Maybe try a different tactic?
Would you rather watch them or play the game yourself?
Really? Why is that?
They show you how to play. You don’t have to look up how to do something because they already know and won’t get stuck.
Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.
Do you watch them play games you’ve never played?
Most of them I’ve never played.
I mean, I’ve played Dumb Ways To Die and Battlefront.
What’s your current favorite game?
Star Wars Battlefront and Nascar 14. It’s a much better game than ’09 was.
What is your favorite game to watch, but you haven’t played?
Is making Youtube videos something you’d want to do?
Why don’t you do it now?
I don’t have all the equipment for it.
At that point, his people swooped in and ended the interview. The phone went dead. I scrambled with my own cell, making sure it wasn’t me who was the problem… but I had plenty of bars and plenty of power. His mother called me back shortly thereafter to let me know that he hung up on me.
I’m not sure if I was asking the right questions or if he was just leading me through a maze with no escape. Or maybe I was getting too close to the truth of it all, and he decided that he’d end the conversation before we reached a place we could never come back from.
And I’m not sure if I’ll ever really know the answer.
John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.
He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!
And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.