Video gaming spectatorship: What drives gameplay watching on YouTube?


  • Urša Golob
  • Medeja Kraševec
  • Tanja Oblak Črnič


gameplay videos, spectatorship, YouTube, gaming platform, uses and gratifications, digital games


This article addresses the phenomenon of gameplay video watching on YouTube. The study investigates what drives people to watch gameplay videos and what gratifications they seek in performing the activity of gameplay viewing. To this end, the authors adopted the uses and gratifications theory (UGT) and a qualitative methodology involving three online discussion groups with 100 members of international gameplay communities. While the results pinpoint the attractiveness of the player as the most important motive, other reasons, such as preview and learning aspects or substitution for the real game, also appear to be important. The qualitative approach enabled to uncover unique aspects of the motives of watching YouTube gameplay videos. In this respect, five distinctive types of gameplay viewers are identified – Spectator, Performer, Selector, Viewer, and Substitutor – where each of them seems to engage in such practices with specific motives and accompanying gratifications.