UNDERSTANDING BACKSEAT GAMING: THE JOYS AND THE PAINS

  • by Tony Tuason, Writer

  • November 4, 2020

Streamers on Facebook or YouTube are everywhere so that we can be entertained anytime and anywhere, across many different interests. Unlike in the past when you had to wait for your favorite content creator to upload a pre-recorded video of gameplay, now you can be part of their content while they stream live; blowing up the chatboxes with your comments, reacting to each and every play alongside your favorite streamer, learning a trick or two through the streamer’s gameplay, and even making friends with your fellow viewers on the stream! Being able to do all these things has been summed up in one phrase: backseat gaming.

Being a follower or subscriber nowadays doesn’t limit you to just watching videos. There are a lot of popular streamers out there already whose gameplay, commentary, and even through just being themselves have captivated audiences all over the world.

Big names like Shroud for his god-like aim, Dr. Disrespect for his unique and outrageous character, TheRadBrad for his soothing voice, or even ChooxTV for his timeless Pinoy and ‘90s humor mix-up. Highlight plays, unique playstyle, guides, builds, and my favorite—streamers attempting bravery while playing horror games while we, their audience, watch them suffer jump scares for our entertainment. Streaming is simply pure entertainment—from both the hosts and the audience—that’s unlike any other, and only that which the digital world can provide.

And as time wears on, backseat gaming continues to evolve. With hundreds or sometimes thousands of other viewers, you’ll learn new things and enjoy the interaction between the streamer and the audience, too.

There are moments that game choices and in-game decisions are made based on what the audience wants to see. Streamers get to earn some money too, and it’s nice to see when they give something back to the community. It feels like a genuine relationship between the streamer and their fanbase. You can send some love by telling them kind and encouraging words, applaud them, or even send them donations to help them keep things alive.

But there are times that this new level of backseat gaming can be stressful and disheartening to other viewers and to the streamer as well. People spamming for giveaways, and toxic, negative comments to the streamer and other viewers has been giving such a negative impact on our enjoyment of streams.

I was able to talk to Extra Rai, a new gamer who just started streaming this year (whose streams I’ve been enjoying and you should really check out). Even when starting out, it is undeniable that backseat gaming and viewers can influence the streamer. “Backseat gaming often happens to me, especially when I play story-based games,” says Extra Rai. “It certainly takes the fun out of playing the game since it feels like you're being controlled by someone else rather than you experiencing and enjoying the game first-hand. I'm sure they mean well and they are just trying to help, so I also keep that in mind.”

“I just put a reminder on the post description on my stream that backseat gaming is not allowed. But most of the time, regular viewers and members of the community look out for me and remind other viewers. I really appreciate that,” reminds Extra Rai.

We as viewers and as part of the stream, we affect the whole experience. When we start to get involved in the chatbox, we should also be aware of proper etiquette so that everything will be fun and to avoid toxicity. “I still read their comments regardless and just joke around while trying to say that I want to experience the game on my own, but I also tell them that their input is highly appreciated—most of the time, they understand,” mentions Extra Rai, talking about how he copes with certain situations of backseat gaming.

So, be good when you’re watching and joining your favorite streamers when they go live. Enjoy every minute or hour because you might get that “notice me senpai” moment sooner or later. See you online boys and girls, and we hope that you’ll be nice viewers or streamers!