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Is Chess Experiencing A Livestreaming Renaissance?

Chess has had its own renaissance in the past few years. Due to media representations of the game being the pursuit of the uber-intelligent, chess became an insult. But it appears the dark period is over, and chess is emerging into the light. Can we thank live streaming for this? How else has live streaming benefitted entertainment, especially for traditional games?

Viewing Figures Booming For All

January 2021 saw 18.3 million hours of chess content streamed on Twitch – surpassing the entirety of all viewing in 2019 and beating top games like Valorant and Fortnite to be the most watched. Players on chess.com increased from 20 million in 2017 to 57 million in 2021, showing that not only are more people watching chess, but more are playing. It could be argued that these figures rose together. As there were more opportunities to view chess matches and as it gained its competitive nature, more people turned to the game.

Chess isn’t the first traditional game to gain a new lease of life due to live-streaming technology. As https://casino.betfair.com/ shows, there are a variety of live casino games that feature a real dealer that interacts the camera and is live-streamed to players. Live versions of blackjack and roulette, for instance, take the essence of the games and allow players to see the dealer in front of them. This adds an element of excitement, especially to such visual games as roulette.

By live streaming these casino games to audiences, customers benefit from digital technology and from the tension created by the dealer themselves. Customers can therefore experience the best of both worlds. Similarly, when playing chess on Twitch, players can benefit from the action of playing the game while also feeling added tension through competitions and through having spectators watch them.

Could eSports Provide a Model?

The main pull for chess on Twitch is that it could follow in the footsteps of eSports. Players who engage with these games rise through the ranks of players, gain sponsorship deals and turn their hobbies into full-fledged careers. There was less ability for chess players to do this beforehand but thanks to Twitch it may be possible for almost anyone who can play the game well enough to be a professional player.

Both roulette and chess represent games that are centuries old. Indeed, according to https://www.britannica.com/topic/chess, chess is one of the oldest games and roulette has been around since the 18th century. Being able to turn both games into successful online versions using digital technology enables them to remain popular and, as we have seen, even gain popularity.  

The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix in 2020 broke viewership records according to https://variety.com/ and made chess popular. The strange period of insulting anyone intelligent appears to be over and we are moving towards an era of embracing brains. Chess is a good signifier of this. But chess arguably wouldn’t be seeing its renaissance if it weren’t for the success of other games on a similar live streaming platform. If poker and roulette hadn’t had their live moment, then chess might still be an almost taboo pastime.

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