Streaming has definitely taken off in the last few years. It is an interesting phenomena to me.
I do understand some of the appeal, as I have always been the kind of person who could sit on the couch next to someone playing a console game and enjoy it as much as if I were playing the game myself. Personally, I have definitely found that I can only watch certain types of games for very long. Specifically those with more direction and story like Assassins Creed or Last of Us. However I do feel like there can definitely be times where watching a game can be as enjoyable, if not more so, than playing it myself. A perfect example is Bloodbourne. I am not the kind of player for the dark souls and Bloodbourne styles of games. I don’t like stuff that is so hard you end up beating your head against one boss fight, and I get very frustrated by games with high death penalties. However, I have found it is actually really fun to try to figure out fight mechanics and such as a spectator, since I don’t get as frustrated as I do when I am playing myself.
Services like Twitch have made it really easy to find ways to be a spectator for any type of game. I could see how someone trying to become more competitive in a game like League of Legends, or DotA could benefit from watching streams of good players to learn techniques. I can also see the appeal of watching a raid stream to learn a boss fight before trying to PUG a raid, since there are definitely times where a PUG can’t explain a fight and it would increase the odds of getting through it.
I also have some friends who just cannot get behind the idea of watching a stream. Their argument is, “if I have the time to watch a stream, I have the time to play myself”. I can understand the point there, especially as I have gotten older and found that my time to play games has been shrinking much more rapidly than I would like.
What I think it really boils down to is figuring out what you want out of a game, and I think that is very different for each person. If you are the type of player who wants to discover things on your own or who is very independent in play style, streams are probably not going to be your thing. If you are the kind of player who wants to be up on the new meta or in a hyper competitive game, then perhaps there is more appeal to learning from streaming. Or, if you are a casual gamer who wants to experience game worlds without some of the frustration, maybe you just want to see someone else play.
No matter what your view on streaming is, it certainly seems to have found its way into mainstream gaming culture and I would guess it is going anywhere anytime soon.