Gaming live streams as mixed reality performance

In the modern world of gaming, something that has risen in popularity is live streaming.

Live streaming is the act of a personality playing a video gaming, and a live video feed being streamed over the internet that others can watch. An example of a website that provides such a form of entertainment is http://www.twitch.tv on which many players share their experiences with video games in real-time.

In a live stream of gaming, typically the streaming gamer uses a camera to film themselves as well as sharing the footage from the game. This provides their real world image alongside the virtual environment in the game. Further to this, those watching a stream usually have the option to chat with the gamer via a text chat system. The gamer has the option whether or not to respond to these in their audio during the stream as well, further the interaction with the audience. At times, this takes on a conversational approach, at others, gamers may ask their audience to help solve a problem they are facing in-game.

‘Another aspect of multiplayer gaming is the importance of collaboration to achieve common goals (Manninen and Kujanpaa, 205; Heidi-Smith, 2007). The need for collaboration creates the potential for involving players through communication and teamwork. Halo 3 (Bungie, 2007), for example, can be played cooperatively by two players on a split screen in the same living room. The pleasure of these so-called co-op games in the same physical location lies in the immediate interaction players have with each other, making it easier to coordinate their efforts both verbally and by seeing each other’s screen.’ Calleja, G (2011). In-Game. London, England: The MIT Press. 104.

In the above example of collaborative gaming, players help each other in the virtual realm whilst co-existing in a physical location. Live streaming, however, presents a different method of collaboration and cooperation, over different levels of reality explained earlier in this blog. The gamer exists in a virtual world, as well as being represented via camera for the viewer, who exists only in text format when they provide input via the live chat function. Despite this change in representation from physical to a purely virtual presence, the feedback loop between player and viewers allows for communication and collaboration, creating a hybrid space as explored in the following text.

‘Meanwhile, remote players could monitor their progress through the online virtual model, and offer advice via text messages that could reach participants in real time.’ Benford, S Giannachi, G (2011). Performing Mixed Reality. London, England: The MIT Press. 42.

In explaining a form of feedback and communication in Blast Theory’s Uncle Roy All Around You we can see that a similar approach is adopted to that of the viewer interaction in live streaming. Being able to offer advice and suggestions via a text format, remote users are able to directly interact with an immersant. Much the same as live streaming, the amount of input available from the remote viewer is limited by the player and what information they choose to use.

This optional interaction between player and their audience allows for alterbiography outside of the game. The narrative in the game changes as has been established earlier in this blog through the options given to a player, however the live stream adds another narrative between player and viewers, offering further trajectories.

From an affect perspective, there is an interesting relationship between the intended affect of the virtual video game, and the affect on the viewer. When an immersant/player is placed in a virtual space, is the affect different for the viewer, as they have no direct input to the game itself? This is an element that can be explored through experimentation. A variable to be taken into consideration is their input to a work. Do they take on a character role? Do they simply input to the outcome of the experience or do they take on a role/character? These themes will be explored by the experimentation undertaken from this study, expanding on the balance and relationship between real and virtual worlds, applying concepts from gaming and mixed reality, understanding the relationships in these hybrid environments, and the spaces they occupy and operate in.

 

 

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