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What streaming means for the future of entertainment | Emmett Shear

What streaming means for the future of entertainment | Emmett Shear


I am obsessed with forming
healthy communities, and that’s why I started Twitch — to help people watch other people
play video games on the internet. (Laughter) Thank you for coming to my TED talk. (Laughter) So in seriousness, video games and communities
truly are quite related. From our early human history, we made our entertainment
together in small tribes. We shared stories around the campfire, we sang together, we danced together. Our earliest entertainment
was both shared and interactive. It wasn’t until pretty recently
on the grand scale of human history that interactivity took a back seat and broadcast entertainment took over. Radio and records brought music
into our vehicles, into our homes. TV and VHS brought sports and drama
into our living rooms. This access to broadcast entertainment
was unprecedented. It gave people amazing content
around the globe. It created a shared culture
for millions of people. And now, if you want to go watch
or listen to Mozart, you don’t have to buy an incredibly
expensive ticket and find an orchestra. And if you like to sing — (Sings) I can show you the world — then you have something in common
with people around the world. But with this amazing access, we allowed for a separation
between creator and consumer, and the relationship between the two
became much more one-way. We wound up in a world where we had
a smaller class of professional creators and most of us became spectators, and as a result it became far easier
for us to enjoy that content alone. There’s a trend counteracting this: scarcity. So, Vienna in the 1900s,
was famous for its café culture. And one of the big drivers
of that café culture was expensive newspapers
that were hard to get, and as a result, people would go to the café
and read the shared copy there. And once they’re in the cafe, they meet the other people
also reading the same newspaper, they converse, they exchange ideas and they form a community. In a similar way, TV and cable used to be more expensive, and so you might not watch
the game at home. Instead you’d go to the local bar and cheer along with
your fellow sports fans there. But as the price of media continues
to fall over time thanks to technology, this shared necessity that used to bring
our communities together falls away. We have so many amazing options
for our entertainment, and yet it’s easier than ever for us
to wind up consuming those options alone. Our communities
are bearing the consequences. For example, the number of people who report
having at least two close friends is at an all-time low. I believe that one of the major
contributing causes to this is that our entertainment today
allows us to be separate. There is one trend reversing
this atomization of our society: modern multiplayer video games. Games are like a shared campfire. They’re both interactive and connecting. Now these campfires
may have beautiful animations, heroic quests, occasionally too many loot boxes, but games today are very different than the solitary activity
of 20 years ago. They’re deeply complex, they’re more intellectually stimulating, and most of all,
they’re intrinsically social. One of the recent breakout genres
exemplifying this change is the battle royale. 100 people parachute onto an island
in a last-man-standing competition. Think of it as being
kind of like “American Idol,” but with a lot more fighting
and a lot less Simon Cowell. You may have heard of “Fortnite,” which is a breakout example
of the battle royale genre, which has been played by more
than 250 million people around the world. It’s everyone from kids
in your neighborhood to Drake and Ellen DeGeneres. 2.3 billion people in the world
play video games. Early games like “Tetris” and “Mario”
may have been simple puzzles or quests, but with the rise of arcades
and then internet play, and now massively multiplayer games
of huge, thriving online communities, games have emerged
as the one form of entertainment where consumption truly requires
human connection. So this brings us to streaming. Why do people stream themselves
playing video games? And why do hundreds of millions
of people around the world congregate to watch them? I want you all the imagine for second — imagine you land on an alien planet, and on this planet,
there’s a giant green rectangle. And in this green rectangle, aliens in matching outfits are trying to push a checkered
sphere between two posts using only their feet. It’s pretty evenly matched, so the ball is just going back and forth, but there’s hundreds of millions
of people watching from home anyway, and cheering and getting excited
and engaged right along with them. Now I grew up watching sports with my dad, so I get why soccer
is entertaining and engaging. But if you don’t watch sports, maybe you like watching
“Dancing with the Stars” or you enjoy “Top Chef.” Regardless, the principle is the same. If there is an activity
that you really enjoy, you’re probably going to like
watching other people do it with skill and panache. It might be perplexing to an alien, but bonding over shared passion
is a human universal. So gamers grew up expecting
this live, interactive entertainment, and passive consumption
just doesn’t feel as fulfilling. That’s why livestreaming
has taken off with video games. Because livestreaming offers
that same kind of interactive feeling. So when you imagine
what’s happening on Twitch, I don’t want you to think
of a million livestreams of video games. Instead, what I want you to picture
is millions of campfires. Some of them are bonfires — huge, roaring bonfires with hundreds
of thousands of people around them. Some of them are smaller,
more intimate community gatherings where everyone knows your name. Let’s try taking a seat
by one of those campfires right now. Hey Cohh, how’s it going? Cohh: Hey, how’s it going, Emmett? ES: So I’m here at TED
with about 1,000 of my closest friends, and we thought we’d come
and join you guys for a little stream. Cohh: Awesome! It’s great
to hear from you guys. ES: So Cohh, can you share
with the TED audience here — what have you learned
about your community on Twitch? Cohh: Ah, man, where to begin? I’ve been doing this
for over five years now, and if there’s one thing that doesn’t
cease to impress me on the daily, it’s just kind of how incredible
this whole thing is for communication. I’ve been playing games
for 20 years of my life, I’ve led online MMO guilds for over 10, and it’s the kind of thing
where there’s very few places in life where you can go to meet
so many people with similar interests. I was listening in a bit earlier; I love the campfire analogy,
I actually use a similar one. I see it all as a bunch of people
on a big couch but only one person has the controller. So it’s kind of like
a “Pass the snack!” situation, you know? 700 people that way — but it’s great and really it’s just — ES: So Cohh, what is going on
in chat right now? Can you explain that a little bit to us? Because my eyesight isn’t that good
but I see a lot of emotes. Cohh: So this is my community;
this is the Cohhilition. I stream every single day. I actually just wrapped up
a 2,000-day challenge, and as such, we have developed
a pretty incredible community here in the channel. Right now we have
about 6200 people with us. What you’re seeing is a spam
of “Hello, TED” good-vibe emotes, love emotes, “this is awesome,” “Hi, guys,” “Hi, everyone.” Basically just a huge
collection of people — huge collection of gamers that are all just experiencing
a positive event together. ES: So is there anything that —
can we poll chat? I want ask chat a question. Is there anything
that chat would like the world, and particularly these people
here with me at TED right now, to know about what they get
out of playing video games and being part of this community? Cohh: Oh, wow. I am already starting to see
a lot of answers here. “I like the good vibes.” “Best communities are on Twitch.” (Laughter) “They get us through
the rough patches in life.” Oh, that’s a message
I definitely see a lot on Twitch, which is very good. “A very positive community,” “a lot of positivity,” which is pretty great. ES: So Cohh, before I get back
to my TED talk, which I actually should probably
get back to doing at some point — (Laughter) Do you have anything else
that you want to share with me or any question you wanted to ask, you’ve always wanted
to get out there before an audience? Cohh: Honestly, not too much. I mean, I absolutely love
what you’re doing right now. I think that the interactive streaming is the big unexplored frontier
of the future in entertainment, and thank you for doing
everything you’re doing up there. The more people that hear
about what you do, the better — for everyone on here. ES: Awesome, Cohh. Thanks so much. I’m going to get back
to giving this talk now, but we should catch up later. Cohh: Sounds great! (Applause) ES: So that was a new way to interact. We could influence
what happened on the stream, we could cocreate
the experience along with him, and we really had a multiplayer experience
with chat and with Cohh. At Twitch, we’ve started calling this, as a result, “multiplayer entertainment.” Because going from watching a video alone
to watching a live interactive stream is similar to the difference between
going from playing a single-player game to playing a multiplayer game. Gamers are often as the forefront
of exploration in new technology. Microcomputers, for example,
were used early on for video games, and the very first handheld, digital
mass-market devices weren’t cell phones, they were Gameboys … for video games. And as a result, one way that you can get a hint
of what the future might hold is to look to this fun, interactive
sandbox of video games and ask yourself, “what are these gamers doing today?” And that might give you a hint
as to what the future is going to hold for all of us. One of the things
we’re already seeing on Twitch is multiplayer entertainment
coming to sports. So, Twitch and the NFL teamed up
to offer livestreaming football, but instead of network announcers
in suits streaming the game, we got Twitch users to come in and stream it themselves
on their own channel and interact with their community and make it a real multiplayer experience. So I actually think that if you
look out into the future — only hundreds of people today
get to be sports announcers. It’s a tiny, tiny number of people
who have that opportunity. But sports are about to go multiplayer, and that means that anyone
who wants to around the world is going to get the opportunity
to become a sports announcer, to give it a shot. And I think that’s going to unlock
incredible amounts of new talent for all of us. And we’re not going to be asking,
“Did you catch the game?” Instead, we’re going to be asking, “Whose channel did you catch the game on?” We already see this happening
with cooking, with singing — we even see people streaming welding. And all of this stuff is going to happen
around the metaphorical campfire. There’s going to be millions
of these campfires lit over the next few years. And on every topic, you’re going to be able to find a campfire that will allow you to bond
with your people around the world. For most of human history, entertainment was simply multiplayer. We sang together in person, we shared news together
in the town square in person, and somewhere along the way, that two-way conversation
turned into a one-way transmission. As someone who cares about communities, I am excited for a world where our entertainment
could connect us instead of isolating us. A world where we can bond with each other
over our shared interests and create real, strong communities. Games, streams and the interactions
they encourage, are only just beginning
to turn the wheel back to our interactive, community-rich,
multiplayer past. Thank you all for sharing
this experience here with me, and may you all find your best campfire. (Applause)

Comments (95)

  1. Should've shown xQc and his chat on screen instead PepeLaugh

  2. Did anyone feel like this was a commercial announcement for Twitch? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Twitch fan, but what about the other live-streaming platforms – Streamup, Ustream or even Mixer? How would they see the future of live-streaming?

  3. While not the most polished talk, this was actually very interesting. I've always had a pretty negative view of streaming and the cynic in me wants to say I'd rather a real campfire, but this seems like a step in the right direction

  4. Theres so much contradiction, and irony in this talk.

  5. Watching movies with chat is pretty Pog tbh

  6. Go over at twitch and watch the top female streamers show their private parts without getting a shady browser history
    Well, having Twitch in your browser might already be shady…

  7. It's nice to have people looking and talking about and doing…shared interest.
    But where would all this lead to…
    I have a mind that this in the long run …
    will have a negative impact on society.
    In the short-term and even in the mid-term it may work for the best.
    BUT…
    I can see a lot of problems coming up for society…In the long-term…
    and I'm a gamer!
    How would streaming help…
    when the human race has gone "back" to the caveman?!
    when the campfire only burns for those beliefs,
    looks to me…in the long run…it will break us up as a society
    into small clans…back to a pre-futile society…
    a big step backwards…

  8. Yes the games bring people together but mostly through agression and competition rather than cooperation. Also..having your adrenal and neural impulses trained by someone else's virtual landscape seems pretty ripe with the possibility for misuse…at the very least an invitation for mind/ body disassociation.

  9. Is it just me or are his sideburns different lengths???

  10. Qtcinderella is the most beautiful woman on twitch

  11. Falsely social just like everything else in life now.

  12. Emmett please get in touch with me I have something to share

  13. so wait… is this a paid promotion for twitch?

  14. this cohh guy looks like a dingus to me cohhL

  15. Teaching the boomers.

  16. Micro transactions,SON!

  17. It means that evolution works both ways and humanity has been devolving since the era of Sumer. What makes you think this is the best humanity has ever been? If it is not the best, then obviously evolution is not going forwards for our species. Things like streaming on twitch (not talking Netflix style streaming), especially irl streaming and gaming, are not entertainment for any but domesticated animals that can barely form independent thought. It is a degradation of entertainment, not an innovation thereof.

  18. Games are a portal to the future

  19. I have few videos on my youtube channel and i would like to go live sometimes would that be considered streaming? Can anyone enlight me on this? I do drawing by the way.

  20. When I was 10 I used to record to vhs the super Nintendo games, then I found it to be entertaining to watch them later on.

  21. 12:30 ninja appears, a proof that they don't care as much as he says about streamers (bc now ninj is on mixer)

  22. Any truers in chat?

  23. Heck, I don’t even play solitaire. I don’t want to go down some rabbit hole in a video game, let alone one I have to share with someone.

  24. It makes me wonder… are we humans slowly rediscovering the lives of our forbears', only with the boon of technology now?

  25. Video games are not the answer for our social problems in society. Im a pc gamer.

  26. okay so you just created another means of Addiction. No wonder people are getting unproductive as the time goes by.

  27. I don't think online communities are good as physical friends. Online=Alter Ego. Reality differs.

  28. humanity is so screwed. bread and circuses.

  29. I can't believe people watch other people playing computer games for fun. That has got to be the weirdest thing I've ever heard. They're not even in the same room or people they actually know. That sounds incredibly sad and lonely.

  30. Happy to see Nathan Pyle's strange planet.

  31. So tempting to advertise my Twitch channel here, but I'll just say, great TED talk. 💚

  32. You barely can find a friend or talk to someone there. You just watch someone's playing a game and talking. You can write something to the chat, but there're so many messages that you'll barely be noticed and get a reply. You just watch. It's almost the same as TV. There are ads and prime accounts

  33. Boy….what a last name to have when discussing entertainment. Just “SHEAR ENTERTAINMENT.” (Cue ba-dum-tsss) <<<<my comic rim shot

  34. I do lives on YouTube – it’s quite fun 🙂

  35. I’m confused. Is this a sales pitch or a TED talk?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love online gaming but platforms where you can participate with a false identity will never lead to more socializing behavior.

  36. When u know u r talking crap but u still do Coz this too has a human history. Campfire and multiplayer video game!!! Yeah right. An office is a better example than this. Interactive. 😊

  37. Twitch start was good but twitch new direction sucks.
    It's creating the same problem TV has.

    Heavy Censorship, Pay-walling
    Instead of the old passion now it's just a business.

  38. 5G makes all these come true.

  39. still showing ninja who sold out to microsoft and is long gone from twitch lol

  40. I feel like the elephant in the room, is that fewer people are seeking real-life friends and interactions these days as those needs are easily being met behind closed doors.

  41. This is a really cringe-packed presentation about the future of entertainment.

  42. This is very essential presentation about entertainment in the future. I think entertainment should depand of people's mind what kinnda taste they are going to gain.It might be watching game on TV or laptop etc either going to stadium to watch the live stream and support the favourite one.

  43. Is this a paid advertising?

  44. Streaming means early torrent upload in 4K

  45. This is one of the boring ted talks of the year

  46. lmao he couldn't help but cringe himself hearing the words come out his mouth

  47. Watching a stream is no more social than watching a movie at home.

  48. where are the CmonBruhs? where are the Tryhards?

  49. Somehow, I don't think the TED audience will think much of a form of community communication that they will see as being posting many multiples of similar emoticons at a rapid rate. I enjoy watching Twitch and I have formed small bonds with certain streamers and people in chat. But I would in no way put them on a level with people I meet with.

  50. Talking about how great communication is and showing a wall of spam

  51. This feels more like marketing campaign than TED talk. Companies are trying to soften up people to give up traditional games and push them behind streaming services. People have to pay for a streaming access and for a game they want to play. Very anti-consumer practice.

  52. its means my people are going to be abused by cowards who deserve to die

  53. The talk was ok, but it completely ignored that all people exist on a spectrum from 100% lurker to 100% producer. This has major interactions with what he said but I guess the purpose of the talk was more to bridge the gap between the offline and online world.

  54. Hey twitch, can you stop pleasing twitch thoughts. Thanks you!

  55. Not sure what your going on about… online gaming is over 20 years old now and human connection has disconnected and also it lacks human face to face

  56. Twitch is simple a means of subsidizing and monetizing narcissism. It divides the population into those who irrationally believe that others need to see them, and others who have so little connection in their lives, that watching a human being do nothing productive is a social event for them. Full stop.

    We will look back on Twitch as one of the collosal wastes of human intellect and enterprise that civilization has ever seen.

  57. completely disagree, games are better alone, being told how to play them/backseated is truly awful. streams are just background noise, you can't interact with a twitch streamer as they only put on a fake face for their online persona, and if they have more than let's say 40 viewers they probably won't (or can't) read your message anyway.

  58. Wow. An actual TED talk.

  59. Nope – I love single player, alone, enjoying the game atmoshpere fully and deeply. When I want a community, there are real campfires with real people.

  60. he is not entertaining at all. worst ted talk

  61. Jesus is Lord living inside out…thanks for sharing.

  62. almost positive you forgot the giant…….TOXIC part of online. and how TOXIC all of these video game communities can be if you don't fit into their mindless sheep herds

  63. “Mind is not in any one place. Every cell in this body has its own intelligence. The brain is sitting in your head, but mind is all over the place.”
    ―     Jaggi Vasudev,   Mind is your Business

  64. Streaming (720) vs Blue Ray Discs. Any questions?

  65. Nathan W. Pyle on TED <3

  66. I dont know whether its helpful. But something new.

  67. How to sell a product on TED by enveloping it fabricated pseudo science …

  68. This guy seems nice but it feels like a big advertisement of twitch lol maybe am biast because I find watching live streams boring. Even if I have got into one for a while (soccer club) in the end I leave.

  69. more marketing bullshhit from Ted.

  70. more marketing bullshhit from Ted.

  71. A person with skin in the game, having founded a platform for a particular technology, a platform that is now angling to grow their subscribers for all segments, and he is touting the benefits of this technology? NO, SURELY THIS CANNOT BE SO.

  72. You do realise, Twitch is being used for far more that just streaming games. Art, product reviews, teen interests, even stories.

    Twitch is a passive watch someone doing something…. usually games with a little comms back up to the streamer, the couch analogy is quite close.

    I'm not sure what point he's trying to make. Twitch is not unquie in its idea, YT does this also.

  73. Someone said toxic lmao

  74. Pubg call of duty fortnite it is my life

  75. Boobie streamers rule the site. This website is horrible

  76. fun fact cable has never been more expensive.

  77. games are real cause of antisocial disorders,mass shootings,watch gaming addiction disorders on youtube and you will be surprised

  78. Keep your dirty promo off of TED please, thanks.

  79. Well in future at VR streaming just will increase and will be more interesting, I think. Also many people still doesn't know what Twitch is and game streaming. Some people like just watch instead play. Casual games to watch someone playing like Devil May Cry for completing missions can be really interesting.
    Well, cya at Twitch.

  80. You can check my upload and see how toxic gaming can be, at '100 Lose Streak' video. 😀

  81. These virtual campfires attract social predators.

  82. I watch War Thunder.

  83. It would help if people actually bought mics anymore. Can hardly talk to anyone.

  84. But then Ninja went to Mixer… Ouch!

  85. This is fun. Working on a college paper and I randomly see Cohh pop up on a TED talk. Fun times.

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