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  • I am obsessed with forming healthy communities,

  • and that's why I started Twitch --

  • to help people watch other people play video games on the internet.

  • (Laughter)

  • Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

  • (Laughter)

  • So in seriousness,

  • video games and communities truly are quite related.

  • From our early human history,

  • we made our entertainment together in small tribes.

  • We shared stories around the campfire,

  • we sang together, we danced together.

  • Our earliest entertainment was both shared and interactive.

  • It wasn't until pretty recently on the grand scale of human history

  • that interactivity took a back seat

  • and broadcast entertainment took over.

  • Radio and records brought music into our vehicles, into our homes.

  • TV and VHS brought sports and drama into our living rooms.

  • This access to broadcast entertainment was unprecedented.

  • It gave people amazing content around the globe.

  • It created a shared culture for millions of people.

  • And now, if you want to go watch or listen to Mozart,

  • you don't have to buy an incredibly expensive ticket and find an orchestra.

  • And if you like to sing --

  • (Sings) I can show you the world --

  • then you have something in common with people around the world.

  • But with this amazing access,

  • we allowed for a separation between creator and consumer,

  • and the relationship between the two became much more one-way.

  • We wound up in a world where we had a smaller class of professional creators

  • and most of us became spectators,

  • and as a result it became far easier for us to enjoy that content alone.

  • There's a trend counteracting this:

  • scarcity.

  • So, Vienna in the 1900s, was famous for its café culture.

  • And one of the big drivers of that café culture

  • was expensive newspapers that were hard to get,

  • and as a result,

  • people would go to the café and read the shared copy there.

  • And once they're in the cafe,

  • they meet the other people also reading the same newspaper,

  • they converse, they exchange ideas

  • and they form a community.

  • In a similar way,

  • TV and cable used to be more expensive,

  • and so you might not watch the game at home.

  • Instead you'd go to the local bar

  • and cheer along with your fellow sports fans there.

  • But as the price of media continues to fall over time thanks to technology,

  • this shared necessity that used to bring our communities together falls away.

  • We have so many amazing options for our entertainment,

  • and yet it's easier than ever for us to wind up consuming those options alone.

  • Our communities are bearing the consequences.

  • For example,

  • the number of people who report having at least two close friends

  • is at an all-time low.

  • I believe that one of the major contributing causes to this

  • is that our entertainment today allows us to be separate.

  • There is one trend reversing this atomization of our society:

  • modern multiplayer video games.

  • Games are like a shared campfire.

  • They're both interactive and connecting.

  • Now these campfires may have beautiful animations,

  • heroic quests,

  • occasionally too many loot boxes,

  • but games today are very different

  • than the solitary activity of 20 years ago.

  • They're deeply complex,

  • they're more intellectually stimulating,

  • and most of all, they're intrinsically social.

  • One of the recent breakout genres exemplifying this change

  • is the battle royale.

  • 100 people parachute onto an island in a last-man-standing competition.

  • Think of it as being kind of like "American Idol,"

  • but with a lot more fighting and a lot less Simon Cowell.

  • You may have heard of "Fortnite,"

  • which is a breakout example of the battle royale genre,

  • which has been played by more than 250 million people around the world.

  • It's everyone from kids in your neighborhood

  • to Drake and Ellen DeGeneres.

  • 2.3 billion people in the world play video games.

  • Early games like "Tetris" and "Mario" may have been simple puzzles or quests,

  • but with the rise of arcades and then internet play,

  • and now massively multiplayer games of huge, thriving online communities,

  • games have emerged as the one form of entertainment

  • where consumption truly requires human connection.

  • So this brings us to streaming.

  • Why do people stream themselves playing video games?

  • And why do hundreds of millions of people around the world

  • congregate to watch them?

  • I want you all the imagine for second --

  • imagine you land on an alien planet,

  • and on this planet, there's a giant green rectangle.

  • And in this green rectangle,

  • aliens in matching outfits

  • are trying to push a checkered sphere between two posts

  • using only their feet.

  • It's pretty evenly matched,

  • so the ball is just going back and forth,

  • but there's hundreds of millions of people watching from home anyway,

  • and cheering and getting excited and engaged right along with them.

  • Now I grew up watching sports with my dad,

  • so I get why soccer is entertaining and engaging.

  • But if you don't watch sports,

  • maybe you like watching "Dancing with the Stars"

  • or you enjoy "Top Chef."

  • Regardless, the principle is the same.

  • If there is an activity that you really enjoy,

  • you're probably going to like watching other people do it

  • with skill and panache.

  • It might be perplexing to an alien,

  • but bonding over shared passion is a human universal.

  • So gamers grew up expecting this live, interactive entertainment,

  • and passive consumption just doesn't feel as fulfilling.

  • That's why livestreaming has taken off with video games.

  • Because livestreaming offers that same kind of interactive feeling.

  • So when you imagine what's happening on Twitch,

  • I don't want you to think of a million livestreams of video games.

  • Instead, what I want you to picture is millions of campfires.

  • Some of them are bonfires --

  • huge, roaring bonfires with hundreds of thousands of people around them.

  • Some of them are smaller, more intimate community gatherings

  • where everyone knows your name.

  • Let's try taking a seat by one of those campfires right now.

  • Hey Cohh, how's it going?

  • Cohh: Hey, how's it going, Emmett?

  • ES: So I'm here at TED with about 1,000 of my closest friends,

  • and we thought we'd come and join you guys for a little stream.

  • Cohh: Awesome! It's great to hear from you guys.

  • ES: So Cohh, can you share with the TED audience here --

  • what have you learned about your community on Twitch?

  • Cohh: Ah, man, where to begin?

  • I've been doing this for over five years now,

  • and if there's one thing that doesn't cease to impress me on the daily,

  • it's just kind of how incredible this whole thing is for communication.

  • I've been playing games for 20 years of my life,

  • I've led online MMO guilds for over 10,

  • and it's the kind of thing where there's very few places in life

  • where you can go to meet so many people with similar interests.

  • I was listening in a bit earlier;

  • I love the campfire analogy, I actually use a similar one.

  • I see it all as a bunch of people on a big couch

  • but only one person has the controller.

  • So it's kind of like a "Pass the snack!" situation, you know?

  • 700 people that way --

  • but it's great and really it's just --

  • ES: So Cohh, what is going on in chat right now?

  • Can you explain that a little bit to us?

  • Because my eyesight isn't that good but I see a lot of emotes.

  • Cohh: So this is my community; this is the Cohhilition.

  • I stream every single day.

  • I actually just wrapped up a 2,000-day challenge,

  • and as such, we have developed a pretty incredible community

  • here in the channel.

  • Right now we have about 6200 people with us.

  • What you're seeing is a spam of "Hello, TED" good-vibe emotes,

  • love emotes,

  • "this is awesome,"

  • "Hi, guys," "Hi, everyone."

  • Basically just a huge collection of people --

  • huge collection of gamers

  • that are all just experiencing a positive event together.

  • ES: So is there anything that -- can we poll chat?

  • I want ask chat a question.

  • Is there anything that chat would like the world,

  • and particularly these people here with me at TED right now,

  • to know about what they get out of playing video games

  • and being part of this community?

  • Cohh: Oh, wow.

  • I am already starting to see a lot of answers here.

  • "I like the good vibes."

  • "Best communities are on Twitch."

  • (Laughter)

  • "They get us through the rough patches in life."

  • Oh, that's a message I definitely see a lot on Twitch,

  • which is very good.

  • "A very positive community,"

  • "a lot of positivity,"

  • which is pretty great.

  • ES: So Cohh, before I get back to my TED talk,

  • which I actually should probably get back to doing at some point --

  • (Laughter)

  • Do you have anything else that you want to share with me

  • or any question you wanted to ask,

  • you've always wanted to get out there before an audience?

  • Cohh: Honestly, not too much.

  • I mean, I absolutely love what you're doing right now.

  • I think that the interactive streaming

  • is the big unexplored frontier of the future in entertainment,

  • and thank you for doing everything you're doing up there.

  • The more people that hear about what you do, the better --

  • for everyone on here.

  • ES: Awesome, Cohh. Thanks so much.

  • I'm going to get back to giving this talk now,

  • but we should catch up later.

  • Cohh: Sounds great!

  • (Applause)

  • ES: So that was a new way to interact.

  • We could influence what happened on the stream,

  • we could cocreate the experience along with him,

  • and we really had a multiplayer experience with chat and with Cohh.

  • At Twitch, we've started calling this,

  • as a result, "multiplayer entertainment."

  • Because going from watching a video alone to watching a live interactive stream

  • is similar to the difference between going from playing a single-player game

  • to playing a multiplayer game.

  • Gamers are often as the forefront of exploration in new technology.

  • Microcomputers, for example, were used early on for video games,

  • and the very first handheld, digital mass-market devices weren't cell phones,

  • they were Gameboys ...

  • for video games.

  • And as a result,

  • one way that you can get a hint of what the future might hold

  • is to look to this fun, interactive sandbox of video games

  • and ask yourself,

  • "what are these gamers doing today?"

  • And that might give you a hint as to what the future is going to hold

  • for all of us.

  • One of the things we're already seeing on Twitch

  • is multiplayer entertainment coming to sports.

  • So, Twitch and the NFL teamed up to offer livestreaming football,

  • but instead of network announcers in suits streaming the game,

  • we got Twitch users to come in

  • and stream it themselves on their own channel

  • and interact with their community

  • and make it a real multiplayer experience.

  • So I actually think that if you look out into the future --

  • only hundreds of people today get to be sports announcers.

  • It's a tiny, tiny number of people who have that opportunity.

  • But sports are about to go multiplayer,

  • and that means that anyone who wants to around the world

  • is going to get the opportunity to become a sports announcer,

  • to give it a shot.

  • And I think that's going to unlock incredible amounts of new talent

  • for all of us.

  • And we're not going to be asking, "Did you catch the game?"

  • Instead, we're going to be asking,

  • "Whose channel did you catch the game on?"

  • We already see this happening with cooking, with singing --

  • we even see people streaming welding.

  • And all of this stuff is going to happen around the metaphorical campfire.

  • There's going to be millions of these campfires lit

  • over the next few years.

  • And on every