backseat

On backseat gaming and interactive media

I watch a lot of content from TotalBiscuit and he often complains about “backseat gaming” in the Twitch chat or on the sub-reddit. I don’t really think the term applies for interactive media. If we had no interaction, if people couldn’t give instructions to the person that’s doing something for the audience it would be the same as TV. People have to realize that if you don’t want to be interacted with, don’t stream/record.

One thing is being given instructions you don’t want to hear, another thing is being given instructions by someone who isn’t really part of the activity. If you wash your car you’re not doing it for the by-standers so some random guy has no “right” to pester you. If you’re working at a carwash you’ll just have to put up with people pestering you.

It seems like people want to have their cake and eat it too – have the engagement benefit and low investment of home-produced, interactive, online content, yet feel offended that people give them instructions. I absolutely get that it’s fucking annoying but it comes with the territory. You can’t expect people to only tell you what you want to hear.

The discussions have always been there, be it among friends, colleagues and so on. Even though actors, directors etc. could learn something they usually don’t read reviews or even watch their own stuff because it makes them too self-aware, so I suspect with streaming/Youtube you’re just too close to the discussion for almost any human to handle. It might be that streaming as we know it just isn’t viable for the people on camera in the long run unless they build a wall around themselves. Maybe only some of them will handle it and the rest will have lower viewership.

In the end I guess it’s an issue of phrasing. The person behind the content can’t expect the consumers not to discuss or voice their opinions about it, what they can do is set-up filters to protect their sanity. With TB, he uses sub-only chat which helps with that but the next step in his business is hiring a publicist to filter most lines of communication. For example during the podcast he could have moderators send him info about the technical stuff and maybe relevant topics while not reading chat himself. If you explain it correctly it will sound less hostile than shitting on Twitch chat or the subreddit in general 🙂