Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Internet Community

New Yorker – "A Peruvian Soccer Fan in Exile"
By Daniel Alarcón

"A few weeks ago, Peru played Colombia in a World Cup qualifier, and we streamed the game directly to our television via YouTube. My wife is Colombian, and her sister was there, too. We were all in the same room, before the same screen, but we weren’t actually watching the same game. They streamed the Colombian TV commentary through their earbuds, imagining that they were in Bogotá; I watched with my phone in hand, anxiously WhatsApping my cousins in Lima, a friend at the stadium, and another one in Maine. When the unease was too great, I tweeted out my nervousness and heard back from dozens of Peruvians in similar states of anguish all over the world. At one point, with Peru down a goal and nearly out of the World Cup, my wife, moved by pity, brought me a glass of rum. Other than that, we hardly spoke. Only when the game had ended, in a draw that served both teams, did we return to a kind of normalcy.

This is how we experience the world’s most popular sport today. Watching a game with Twitter is like watching in a crowded bar. Watching with WhatsApp is like watching in someone’s living room. Watching with both is a kind of meditation, a sense of being in many places at once—or, more to the point, in some other realm altogether, outside time and geography, connected to an event but floating above it, near it, holding hands with strangers and loved ones who are doing the same thing."

New Yorker – "How to Get Rich Playing Video Games Online"

"Garcia and Cassell both like to compare their channels to a neighborhood pub. Streamers become favorite bartenders, charming and constantly available. Viewers, swapping messages in chat, become fellow-regulars. There might be the occasional bar fight—Twitch can be as noxious as anywhere else on the Internet—but the tone is typically convivial. Viewers generate inside jokes, ask for life advice, even discuss their experiences of grief or depression. (They also pair off, as two of Cassell’s moderators did.) “There are two ways to look at Twitch,” Cassell told me. “One is that it’s people playing video games and other people watching, which is what ninety-nine per cent of the world sees. But the other side of Twitch is that you are playing a game with someone on the couch. There’s a level of interaction that’s just not there in standard media.”

This interaction has an unusual kind of immediacy: participate enough in Cassell’s Twitch channel, and he’ll greet you by name, every day. “If you asked a hundred viewers why they watch their favorite streamer, what they’re all going to tell you is, ‘I feel like I could be their friend,’ ” Cecilia D’Anastasio, who covers Twitch for the gaming site Kotaku, said. Michael Blight, a DePaul University communications professor whose research has explored viewers’ bonds with Twitch streamers, told me that these largely one-sided “parasocial relationships” grow deeply meaningful. “People were almost sheepish about revealing this, but they’d say, ‘I know I’m just one of his thousands of fans, but I really do feel like he understands me,’ ” Blight said. “They come to feel like this person is a part of them.”"

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