It’s like getting together with your buddies to watch a football game. You all get in a room, chat about what you’re watching and crack jokes with each other. It’s the same concept for streamers, but instead of 10 friends in a living room, it’s 10,000 “friends” on a streaming platform. The bottom line is that the esports community should not be afraid to show its pride for video games. Streamers have laid the framework to help integrate the community into the mainstream. Streamers have developed a community with their audiences. Thousands of viewers with similar interests are simultaneously watching and chatting with each other. These massive fan bases have chat rooms dedicated solely to discussing video games and streamers. At any given moment, I can log on to Twitch or YouTube Gaming and find someone playing the games I love. There will be hundreds or thousands of other people watching the same game at the same time. It’s reassuring to know that other people share your interests and that at any point of the day you can “hang out” — albeit virtually — with those people. It’s nice to know that you aren’t a weird outcast whose passion is always stigmatized. Video games are often seen as a niche community. I’ve experienced this firsthand. People are afraid to express their interest in gaming, fearing judgment because of the stigma games can carry. But why would anyone want to watch random people play video games, especially if they’re not very good to begin with? The answer is the sense of community it provides. So far, this column has mainly focused on professional esports and how pursuing esports as a career should not be stigmatized — but pro players are just one part of the sport. With just about every aspect of media moving toward the digital space, it’s incredibly important to understand the influence that individual “normal people” can have on an entire community. Some of the most famous streamers have built their followings on streaming platforms because of their professional careers, but the vast majority of streamers are just normal people — many of whom aren’t even that good at the game they play. Streamers alleviate the fear of this prejudice by providing a safe space for people who love video games. Most streamers are normal people. They are relatable to viewers who are searching for a place to fit in. The reality is that esports, as a part of society, are becoming more similar to traditional sports. Some of the most passionate football fans have never played a day of organized football, but that doesn’t stop them from watching every Sunday, playing fantasy football and discussing the game with their friends. The other prominent aspect of gaming is the streamers: people who commentate while they play video games live for thousands to watch. These people dedicate much of their lives to streaming themselves playing video games for several hours a day. The top streamers receive endorsements and donations as well as money from viewers who pay for premium content. My first column at the Daily Trojan was about esports. I still remember the look on our former editor-in-chief’s face when I, the sports editor she just hired, told her that video games count as sports. For a while after that, I suppressed my passion for video games, watching streamers in privacy in the Daily Trojan sports office. (For the record, she later let me cover a big esports event.) Sam Arslanian is a junior writing about esports. He is also a former sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Plug & Play,” runs every other Wednesday.
DETROIT (AP) – Chris Kunitz had two goals and an assist to help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 on Wednesday night in an exhibition game.Jussi Jokinen, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams also scored for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each had two assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 16 saves.Drew Miller scored for Detroit, and Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots.Jokinen and Dupuis scored in the final 5 minutes of the first to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Adams made it 3-0 3:14 into the second period. Miller scored with 7:11 left in the middle period.Kunitz’s first goal came with 2:35 remaining in the second and he added a power-play goal 9:28 into the third. Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) scores on Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34), of the Czech Republic, in the third period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
EMPTY SEATS AT HEINZ FIELD – In this Nov. 10, 2013, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, left, is flushed out of the pocket by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark (25) and Jarvis Jones (95) during an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)by Will GravesAP Sports WriterPITTSBURGH (AP) – Mike Tomlin isn’t much on public gratitude. Still, the perpetually focused Pittsburgh Steelers coach went out of his way to thank the fans who showed up at Heinz Field to watch his team drum the Buffalo Bills 23-10 on Sunday for its third win of the season.“It’s not something we take for granted,” Tomlin said.Good idea.A crowd of 60,406 turned out to watch two teams with a combined 5-12 record play on a cold, blustery day more suited for late-December than three weeks before Thanksgiving. The 5,000 or so who bought their tickets but chose to not make it through the turnstiles were conspicuous, their absence marked by pockets of open gold seats in certain portions of the stadium tucked tight against the Allegheny River.Welcome to life in the new NFL, where “sellouts” are the norm but full houses are becoming the exception, and not just in places like woeful Jacksonville.Blame it on mediocre teams. Blame it on rising ticket prices. Blame in on the comfort of your couch, where it doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars to sit, and the cold beer in your fridge, the one that doesn’t cost $8 a bottle.The Steelers (3-6), who have six Vince Lombardi Trophies in the lobby at team headquarters, are in danger of posting their lowest average attendance since 2003, when they limped to a 6-10 record and missed the playoffs.The franchise is on a similar trajectory this fall in a place that can be tough – by NFL standards – to completely fill even when times are good. Pittsburgh is averaging 61,465 through four home dates, the lowest over the same span since Heinz Field opened in 2001.It’s a trend hitting the league regardless of market size or on-field success. In 2008, only five teams played to stadiums less than 95 percent full. That number has doubled this season at a time when TV ratings are at their best since 2006.The Washington Redskins have one of the NFL’s rising stars in quarterback Robert Griffin III and are playing to just 88.9 percent capacity this season. The surprising New York Jets have the nation’s largest metropolitan area to pull from and only 93.3 of those with tickets are showing up.Then again, New York can be a tough market.Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was on the 2007 Jets that limped to a 4-12 record. As the season wore on and the losses mounted, things got weird.“Pittsburgh came to town but it felt like an away game,” Cotchery said. “It was so loud in there. I remember us doing silent count and all of that stuff at home. But we were a bad team. I probably wouldn’t want to take my kid out in the cold and watch a bad team play football.”It can lead, in some instances, to the unnerving realization that players can’t simply rely on the juice – or the vitriol – from the crowd to get amped up.“When we play on the road, certain places are just known for being quiet,” Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “It’s almost like in the huddle, you have to keep reminding yourself to keep your energy up and realize that some of these places are really quiet and you have to create your own energy a little bit.”The NFL amended its TV blackout rule last year, allowing teams to sell only 85 percent of its prime tickets to meet the threshold necessary to have home games broadcast locally. While the decision has done nothing but goose TV ratings even further, getting folks into the stadium on a regular basis in some cities remains a tough task.Oakland and Jacksonville swath their stadiums in massive drapes that cover entire sections. It reduces capacity but hasn’t exactly increased demand. While the atmosphere has improved with the Raiders, only 81.4 percent of ticket holders make it to their seats. More than 10 percent of those with tickets in Jacksonville don’t bother to get an eyeful of one of the league’s worst teams.Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer is prepping the Cardinals for an “interesting atmosphere” when they visit the Jaguars (1-8) on Sunday, where tickets are going for as low as $8 on StubHub. To be honest, he’s going to miss the opportunity to quiet a hostile environment, mostly because there likely won’t be one.“You can’t worry about any of those outside distractions,” Palmer said. “You’ve just got to focus on doing your job each and every play, and do what it takes to win the game, regardless of how many people are watching or who is in the stands.”Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to stress the in-game fan experience remains important to the league. It also remains important to the bottom lines of owners, if only to fatten their wallets.When Personal Seat Licensing came into vogue, it created a new revenue stream by making fans plunk down thousands just for the right to buy tickets. It priced some longtime season ticket holders out of the market and as the U.S. economy sputtered, so did interest in making a significant financial commitment to get in the door when the living room can be just as inviting and significantly cheaper.And owners continue to press for new stadiums even as evidence mounts that less might be more. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has turned AT&T Stadium into a virtual ATM since it opened in 2009. Dallas averages more than 86,000 fans a game, well over 100 percent capacity, even as the team continues to hover around .500.The Falcons have barely been in the Georgia Dome two decades and already they’ve struck a deal on a new $1 billion building that will be ready by 2017.The Steelers aren’t greedy enough to ask for new digs, but they are planning to add an additional 3,000 seats at Heinz Field, even though they’ve never averaged more than 63,458 per game since its debut in 2001. All that’s left is deciding who picks up most of the tab. The issue remains in the Pittsburgh courts, though whenever the expansion is complete, the same factors that fans face every Sunday will remain in place.“It’s just how it works,” Cotchery said. “When you’re losing like (we did in New York), those decisions have to be made. Do I go to the game or do I not go to the game? I know it’s tough. “___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org___AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Doug Ferguson in Jacksonville, Fla., contributed to this report.