Into Games Young Journalist in partnership with Critics' Club teamed up professional games journalists with aspiring writers from underrepresented genders between 14 and 18. Over the course of a day, participants took part in workshops on reviews, features, various techniques and finding their unique critical voice. Their final pieces are published on the Into Games and Critics' Club websites.

I’m not sure about you, but I could spend hours and hours playing video games, yet I find myself spending even more watching other people play those games. Gaming has been around for decades, but with new technology that allows virtually anyone to pick up a camera, it’s never been easier to record yourself playing a video game and reacting to whatever the developers have thought up. 

This is how PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg), a creator with over 100 million subscribers on YouTube, started in 2010. His passion for video games mixed with his loud, hilarious personality caused playthroughs to spike in the YouTube gaming community. His two-minute videos would evolve into a 10,000,000+ million view Minecraft lets-play series. Clearly, I’m not alone in watching the overly dramatic, yet emotionally compelling plot that is the adventures of Felix, Sven and Joergen. 

So, what is the value of watching people play games? Well, first off, it's super entertaining; seeing a variety of YouTubers quiver and shriek from playing indie horror games will never get old. It’s also enlightening, with plenty of video games covering a variety of topics, including the occasional sensitive one. It’s often a good insight to get an idea of how different people react to the same thing. This is especially true with multiple ending games, for example, Telltale’s The Walking Dead. A channel I enjoy watching – Gamers React Comp – is exactly what it says: gamers reacting in a compilation style. The channel shows various gaming YouTubers and their different reactions to specific scenes in a game. I think this is one of the most important values of watching someone play a video game. Choice games like The Walking Dead make players feel guilty as they’re in control of what happens to the characters. You won’t get a unique experience like that watching a movie or reading a book! 

Another thing is the fact that most people aren’t going to be able to afford each and every game they want to play, so having YouTubers whose job is to play those games lets people experience whatever the game's story, characters or generally silliness has to offer. The best part about the gaming community is that we can experience what each game has to offer together and analyse what many developers have spent years of blood, sweat, and strained eyes creating. So, the next time someone asks you, “Why do you watch someone else play a game and not play it yourself?”, show them this article and it may just enlighten them.

By Munya Mwaijumba