Technology has vastly improved the ways we consume entertainment. In the past, watching videos online used to be limited to YouTube. Before YouTube, we had to manually download videos and streaming footage was something that was seen as almost impossible due to slow internet speeds and primitive internet technology.

Nowadays, we can turn on our smart televisions and use our smartphones to control them like a remote, pick a film we want to watch, and then it’ll start playing in a few seconds. Consuming content has never been easier, and whether it’s a film, a show or even good old YouTube, we can watch them from almost any smart device that has access to the internet. It’s quick, fun, easy and most importantly, convenient.

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Making use of entertainment technology

Now that there are platforms for us to stream content from the internet, there will undoubtedly be more ways to use this technology for even more fun. For instance, did you know that you can broadcast live from your phone using services such as Periscope? With a GoPro or even just the camera on your phone, you can show people on the internet what you’re up to, and it only takes a couple of seconds and a decent mobile internet connection (or WiFi access point) to get started.

Periscope is massively popular because some well-known individuals like to broadcast what they’re doing. They’ll have live debates, talk with viewers and generally just hang out and have fun. It’s a new form of reality TV that you can watch for free and, assuming someone you like is broadcasting, you can take a look at what they’re doing, speak to them and have fun.

This form of live streaming has been popular on other platforms such as Justin.TV and Ustream. It enables people to broadcast their shows, creative processes and almost anything else you can think of. However, perhaps the most popular online streaming platform is Twitch.tv, a network for gamers to broadcast themselves playing games, a place for electronic sports enthusiasts to learn and watch tournaments, and of course, a place to hang out and have fun with your favorite personalities.

The rise of gaming

Many years ago, gaming was still seen as something that was associated with geek culture. However, that has largely changed and now gaming is far more culturally accepted. This has paved the way for many people around the world to show off their love for gaming, and it has even spawned professional electronic sports organizations that specialize in hosting tournaments for people to compete in. These aren’t weekend tournaments where the prize is a copy of the game or a voucher either. These are tournaments with over $10 million as a prize pool, with $5 million being split among the first place winners. These are tournaments with millions of viewers around the world, exceeding even popular physical sports such as the NHL and MLB.

Because of this, Twitch.tv regularly pulls in hundreds of thousands of viewers that want to watch professionals play their favorite games and compete for millions of dollars in prize money. Recently, a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match shattered the previous Twitch.tv viewership record and exceeded 1 million concurrent viewers during a tense match. In short, there’s money to be made in electronic sports, and if sponsors like American Express and Coca-Cola aren’t big enough to make you think twice about video games being serious, then perhaps the ridiculous prize money will.

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Starting small

Although it’s a far cry from the viewership that major tournaments get, individuals can also make it big on Twitch.tv. For instance, top players can easily get over 20,000 viewers on a single night of broadcasting their gameplay. The players, known by the community as “streamers”, have different ways of operating their entertainment. For instance, a well-known streamer by the name of LIRIK focuses on entertaining his viewers with silly gameplay antics, while another streamer by the name of summit1G puts his focus on interacting with the chat and he even has a camera pointing at his face so the viewers can see his reactions and he can “look” at the crowd.

An entire community of volunteers and even businesses has spawned around the Twitch.tv platform. For instance, there are moderators that watch over the people chatting in each channel, removing any hateful messages, questionable links and spam. There are creators and designers that provide graphics for the streamer, and there are even applications that allow you to create free Twitch banners to make your channel look more professional. In terms of income, there are donators and subscribers who pay money to support their favorite streamer, often $5 a month and in return, they receive perks and a shoutout. Some people even go as far to donate hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a single payment, attaching funny messages or praise for the streamer to see and read.

A love for entertainment

If you enjoy video games, then Twitch.tv is the place to be. Even if you aren’t interested in video games, there are wonderful, perky and even informative people on the platform that could get you interested in video games. There are many parents who monitor their child’s internet activity, only to stumble upon these entertainers and as a result, become interested in not only video games but the culture of Twitch.tv in general.

Whether you join the ranks of streamers who are trying to turn their passion into a career, or if you join the legions of viewers who support their favorite personalities, there’s a place for everyone on Twitch.tv. It’s a new form of entertainment that has spawned as a result of technological improvements and a global love for video gaming. It’s not for everyone, of course. Some people prefer to play video games instead of simply watching them, but there’s no denying the long-lasting popularity of this mashup of reality TV, video games and comedy. Would you watch someone play video games? After a quick browse through Twitch.tv and the various channels, you might be surprised at the answer.