“Why would you want to watch someone else play a video game?” is a question that comes up occasionally when discussing streamers and stream watchers, and it’s the exact question that Fallon hypothecally presented to Ninja during his appearance on the talk show. Fallon said it was fun to watch Ninja play video games but commented that many people can’t get their heads around the idea of watching streamers, so he asked Ninja to explain to show people what the appeal is of watching a famous streamer do work in a game that anyone can pick up and play themselves.
“Why do you want to watch, you know, the best of the best play football, soccer, you know, hockey?” Ninja said. “It’s like – why don’t you go outside and you do it right now? Like, if you love it so much, right, you can do it.”
Playing a video game might seem a bit more accessible to people than playing at the highly-competitive levels of the professional sports leagues like the NFL, but Ninja’s answer for a theoretical question about that pointed out that gaming, too, has its own upper echelon of skill where the best of the best play.
“There’s so many people [who] are like ‘Well, why do you watch people play video games if you can go play video games yourself?’” Ninja said. “It’s like, can you do that? Can you compete at that high level and like, you know – it’s entertainment, right? So you watch the NFL and things like that because you want to watch people do things that you can’t. It’s kind of the same thing with gaming and streaming.”
The question of whether or not pro gamers and streamers should be compared to athletes has appeared many more times than just on Fallon’s show when he spoke to Ninja. Esports competitors go through rigorous training schedules and typically live with their teams as well between their competitions that draw in millions of viewers, so there’s definitely an argument to be made there in regards to pro athlete comparisons. The Olympics Committee has also considered esports competitions as potential events in the international event, but the sometimes violent nature of different games has created a roadblock during those talks. Recognition of esports overseas has made some progress though with League of Legends recently being selected to be a part of the 2018 Asian Games.