Live Streaming and Gamifying Education In…

Live Streaming and Gamifying Education

In addition to +Fraser Cain and +Pamela Gay's brilliant Astronomy Hangouts, one other vibrant community of streamers has heavily influenced my thinking about the medium: the Starcraft 2 streaming community. Although the community has significant presences across the internet (especially on Reddit and Twitter), the heart of the community is on the Team Liquid forums.  

If you aren't familiar, hit up the link and let me introduce you to the community. At the time of my posting, there are 95 live streamers reaching an audience of roughly 16,000 viewers. This is near midnight on an average Wednesday; during major tournaments or other community events, audiences will easily clock in over 100,000 viewers. And the community is attracting advertising dollars in proportion to the attention it attracts. 

Starcraft is one of a number of games streamed regularly on services like Twitch.tv, which hosts streams to thousands of viewers daily. 

http://www.twitch.tv/directory

But the Team Liquid forums cater to the SC2 community directly, and have generated quite a sophisticated culture and economy surrounding their gaming. 

http://www.teamliquid.net/video/streams/

At top of this list are a number of features streams. Some featured streams are highly produced tournaments; right now, the IGN Pro League is streaming their tournament, complete with casting and commentary, studio productions, and commercial sponsorship. This produced content is usually broadcast several times during the day. Other featured streams are professional Starcraft players live streaming their own online play. Individual streamers are also usually sponsored and run their own advertisements (either on screen logos during the game, or full screen commercials between games), and are paid in proportion to their viewership. Some pros, like Destiny, support themselves entirely through their streaming. 

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/g7q91/iam_destiny_i_quit_my_job_to_play_starcraft_2_for/

The really interesting thing for me, however, is the other live streams, the "long tail" of the SC2 community. Below the featured streams are nearly a hundred regular people, some of whom are quite good at the game, but most of whom are amateur players who also stream their content. As you can see, although some are more successful than others, the vast majority of these streamers have no audience at all. Nevertheless, they are tirelessly producing and archiving content of their gaming, available for all the internet to see. 

Some clever streamers have seized the opportunity this vast untapped resource of yearning players presents. +Sean Plott, aka Day[9], streams daily coaching sessions live to this community. The tagline for the show is the "learn to be a better gamer", and Day[9] has produced over 200 episodes of streaming educational media targeted at this vibrant community. For his effort, Day[9] has attracted tens of thousands of fans, and has taught thousands more the basics not only of the game, but of the discipline and training and self-confidence needed to be better at life.

http://day9.tv/

Inspired by this kind of coaching, hundreds of teens have not only practiced their game play, but have streamed their practices live, with no hope of compensation, but simply to give back to their community. Beyond inspiration, this kind of dedication convinces me that there is huge potential in educational streaming, and it makes me eager to jump in. 

I've written about Starcraft the game at some length, and while there is a lot to say about the game, it has always been the community that has sustained my interest. While not everyone can stand watching people play video games, I think the cultural and economic models employed by the community are very instructive for others looking for similar streaming business models. 

http://digitalinterface.blogspot.com/2012/05/starcraft-2-is-brutally-honest-lessons.html

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