When Game Becomes Life: The Creators and Spectators of Online Game Replays and Live Streaming

Adele Lu Jia, Siqi Shen*, Dick H J Epema, A. Iosup

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


Online gaming franchises such as World of Tanks, Defense of the Ancients, and StarCraft have attracted hundreds of millions of users who, apart from playing the game, also socialize with each other through gaming and viewing gamecasts. As a form of User Generated Content (UGC), gamecasts play an important role in user entertainment and gamer education. They deserve the attention of both industrial partners and the academic communities, corresponding to the large amount of revenue involved and the interesting research problems associated with UGC sites and social networks. Although previous work has put much effort into analyzing general UGC sites such as YouTube, relatively little is known about the gamecast sharing sites. In this work, we provide the first comprehensive study of gamecast sharing sites, including commercial streaming-based sites such as Amazon's Twitch.tv and community-maintained replay-based sites such as WoTreplays. We collect and share a novel dataset on WoTreplays that includes more than 380,000 game replays, shared by more than 60,000 creators with more than 1.9 million gamers. Together with an earlier published dataset on Twitch.tv, we investigate basic characteristics of gamecast sharing sites, and we analyze the activities of their creators and spectators. Among our results, we find that (i) WoTreplays and Twitch.tv are both fast-consumed repositories, with millions of gamecasts being uploaded, viewed, and soon forgotten; (ii) both the gamecasts and the creators exhibit highly skewed popularity, with a significant heavy tail phenomenon; and (iii) the upload and download preferences of creators and spectators are different: while the creators emphasize their individual skills, the spectators appreciate team-wise tactics. Our findings provide important knowledge for infrastructure and service improvement, for example, in the design of proper resource allocation mechanisms that consider future gamecasting and in the tuning of incentive policies that further help player retention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing Communications and Applications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Gamecast sharing sites
  • Online game communities
  • Popularity dynamics
  • Repository characteristics
  • User behaviors


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