I love watching streamers. But when I’m deciding whether or not to sink $60 and dozens of hours into the latest game, nothing compares to actually trying it myself. Here are some reasons why.
A lot of gamers are compensated for streaming, with rewards ranging from free games to actual paychecks. Sometimes they’re up front about it; other times, not so much. Does failure to disclose sponsorship make streams totally invalid? Of course not. But there’s no way to be completely sure who’s biased in favor of what they’re playing because a publisher tossed a few crumbs their way.
I’ve become an anti-spoiler crusader. I won’t even watch a movie trailer if it’s for a film I think I might be interested in seeing. Games are a little different, because not every moment of gameplay includes scripted story points, but it still makes my skin crawl to see too much of a preview. Surprise is one of the best feelings of experiencing any art form, and a sure way to ruin any potential surprise is to watch too much of a game before you dive in.
Occasionally, a streamer’s viewer community is thoughtful, supportive, and chill. But often, the chat window is filled with the equivalent of graffiti in a middle school bathroom. You can ignore it, but the streamer usually engages with it, and it almost invariably brings down the quality of the video. I game to escape jerks, not listen to them chant stuff that would make Andrew “Dice” Clay blush.
It’s so frustrating when I’m watching someone play a game and they don’t do what I yell at them to do through the screen! Whether it’s an interesting cave that goes unexplored, or an optional sidequest that the streamer takes on when they’re clearly not leveled up enough, watching other people game can be frustrating. Just give me the wheel, dang it!
While streaming definitely has its place, sometimes there’s nothing better than trying a game out yourself. Thankfully, Redbox has the answer. Get the latest games for PS4 or Xbox One at any Redbox kiosk for $3 a night or three nights for $7. That’s an affordable way to get your thumbs dirty, see for yourself if you want to commit to playing more, and be more than just a spectator.
Tony Carnevale is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.