Drunken Master: The bitter banality of streaming celebrities
Everything seems so much clearer through the bottom of a bottle. Focused, like a laser pointer cutting into the smouldering corners of our deepesht truithsd. I’m not quite there yet – I’m wobbling on the precipice of epiphany, almost, but let me sink one more glass of this… uhhh, what is this? It’s dark in here and my bulbous stomach is making it hard to reach over to pick up the offending bottle. Okay, it’s Avontuur’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend. Right, I think I’m good to go. Please be aware that there may be strong language, and that’s not because I’ve been drinking (not only because I’ve been drinking), but because I’m a cynical troll with a mental breath like caustic soda.
Er. I legitimately fell asleep there for a moment.
So I’ve got an axe to grind. I must just remember what it was. “Drunken Master” isn’t just a clever name. Oh, yes. Game streaming. The world-sweeping trend where we’ve apparently decided as a species that’s managed to invent things like microwave meals and spaceships that tuning in to watch a stranger with a perfunctory gimmick play a video game is entertainment. It blows my mind.
If you enjoy watching somebody with an eye-patch or comedy moustache or stick-on Woody Allen nose playing Resident Evil 19 or Uncle Bobsled’s RampantBunnyFart, I guess that’s okay. What troubles me is that we (and I mean a generic “we”, not “we” as in “you and I”, because I want nothing to do with any of this, obviously) have somehow turned these lonely, pointless, frequently obnoxious people into celebrities. For what? For playing video games, and saying just enough provocative bullshit along the way to keep people interested.
It’s worth remembering that we, as gamers, are collectively intrigued by the most remedial drivel. You just have to swear enough during your stream, or, if you’re a girl with the parts which classify you as such in a most basic biological sense, show everyone your things, and you’ll be in the big time. You don’t even have to actually reveal your things. Just make sure everyone knows that such a revelation is a possibility, no matter how remote. “If Kratos overthrows the final boss demon of the Locust Horde, I’ll whip ‘em out,” you promise, maybe, as a brazillion grovelling viewers unzip their pants and wait.
This game streaming thing isn’t all that new, by the way. We had a similar thing back when I was a young troglodyte. In Stellenbosch there was this place called Wonderland, which, despite its name, was just a dirty arcade – the kind of place where you might witness a young Karate Kid being manhandled behind the Daytona USA cabinet by older teens wearing denim jackets (oooooh, denim) just before the “and then he was taken under the wing of a geriatric noodle fetishist and became awesome at karate” video montage kicked off.
Anyway, so here, in Wonderland, cloaked in clouds of Stuyvesant Blue (+2 stealth), I would stand and watch people play Double Dragon. And Samurai Showdown 2. And later, Tekken. And, if there was no one around with a token to spare, I would watch the “insert coin” demo reel, over and over again. This, my friends, was the start of game streaming, and it was important to me then. It was a learning experience. I would cut the Killer Instinct combo lists out of my GamesMaster magazines, and then I would glance at my cheat sheet ever so subtly so that I could pull off a 32-hit UUUUULTRAAAAAA COMBOOOOOOOOOO! and convince myself that all the single girls in the arcade vicinity were secretly cramping up with desire to touch me.
I tried to watch a stream this week. An important 0ne, too, apparently. Canadian rapper Drake played Fortnite with a ninja, or a kid named Ninja, or something along those lines. I like Drake. He’s got to be the softest rapper in the game, but he’s got flow, and flow goes a long way. But this Ninja guy, he just got up and wandered off mid-stream – presumably for a spot of breastfeeding or to have his dazzlingly azure coiffure restyled – and I found myself staring at an empty, blue gaming chair for 13 minutes. And I’m thinking, is the current state of gaming?
It depressed me for about 54 minutes, but then I realised that none of this means anything. And then, just a few minutes ago, I caught myself very nearly spreading Hellman’s Mayonnaise on a Rooibos teabag which looked a bit like a crust of homemade bread. And this was my reminder that it is, most definitely, time for bed.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here – and I like to think there’s a lesson to all my lectures – it’s that there is no lesson. Just stop turning these people into celebrities, okay? These people are like the Kardashians of the gaming world, and all of this does nothing but confirm other people’s assumption that video games are a waste of time.