Resident Evil and Why We Watch Others Play Video Games

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If you know me at all then you know I really like to watch reaction videos. Furthermore, I like to watch people play video games on YouTube as well. (“Yeah, screw Twitch”).

For my own personal viewing I like to watch two specific channels on YouTube play video games (sometimes a third).

First, I love to watch the channel’s Outsidexbox and Outside Xtra which I consider one channel really. They are intelligent about they play games, they understand the games they play and the industry in which they are made very well, and oh my god do they have some of the funniest comments to make while playing the games they play.

Second, and equally as fun, I love to watch a channel called Preview’d Gaming. Mainly they are a reaction channel for TV shows and movie trailers, but they started playing video games on the channel as well which led them to create a gaming channel, Preview’d Gaming.

When it comes to watching Jay and Adam play video games on the Preview’d channel I personally love it because they love the video games they play, but also, in relation to the Outsidexbox and Outside Xtra, their kind of dumb about playing games. Let me remind you these two are not actually dumb, just the way they play, specifically, Resident Evil sometimes compared to the other channels I watch.

The reason I love to watch them “dumbly” play their way through Resident Evil?

It is hilarious. Specifically because Adam tends to get scared kind of easily. Which can be one of the funniest things you’ll see on the internet in my opinion. For example:

Really, you should watch the whole series of videos of them playing Resident Evil 2 so…

Why do I love watching these people play the video games they play though?

Why do we as viewing audiences on streaming platforms love to do it so much?

Well, with games like Resident Evil the answer can be pretty easy. Watching people get scared playing a video game can be fun, and funny, as all get out.

We aren’t all watching people play games like Resident Evil though. Especially not all the time like I do. Some like to watch people play Fortnite. Some like Among Us (well, I do to). Some like to watch people play FPS (first person shooter) games. There are tons of people watching a lot of different other people playing all different types of video games.

Hell, before we even had these streaming platforms to watch people play video games on we were watching people play video games. How many times did you sit around watching a friend who was better at Guitar Hero play on extreme difficulty? How many of you watched somebody play through Dead Space and laugh when the person playing got scared (secretly being as scared as they were)?

We’ve been doing it since Atari.

Okay, maybe you weren’t watching your friends play pong for very long dad, but you get what I mean.

So what is the real reason?

Science says mimicry.

“The logic behind the growing popularity of simply watching others play games can be found in the phenomenon of mirror neurons. These are specialist brain cells that seem to play some role in an animal’s ability to mimic.

There is increasing evidence that babies use mirror neurons to copy and learn facial expressions, and to mimic sounds. The idea is that when we see, for instance, a facial expression for the first time, mirror neurons fire in our brains giving us a map of how to copy that same expression through the neural connections to our faces.

There is also some evidence of mirror neurons’ involvement in areas such as empathy. These mirror neurons appear to contribute to a brain system that helps us relate what we observe in others to our own experiences.

This could be key to understanding why so many are driven to watch others play games. When we are watching the action being streamed to our screens, it would be these circuits that fire up and make us feel the highs and the lows, as if it were us playing. This kind of passive psychological involvement is also seen with spectators of traditional sports, such as football.” (

Which fits right into the ideas I have had about reaction videos here:

We are all people who have the capacity for empathy. This shows very much so in the way we watch other people watch things.

Yes, we may get enjoyment out of it other than on an empathic level, but…

On some level we feel a need to feel what others feel.

Wait, can reaction videos and watching people play video games help save the world?

I don’t know.

That is a question for another day.


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