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Erik Anderson
Erik Anderson

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A Streamer's viewpoint on coding vs videogames

I've been seeing some posts on Dev about streaming coding so I've decided to collect my thoughts about it.
I've actually done streaming of both video games and coding, though if I'm honest, I've racked up more hours on gaming.
My game of choice is Starcraft 2, but that's beside the point.
I've been thinking about the similarities and differences between streaming coding and gaming.
I'd say that gaming is much easier for the viewer. In many video games, you can appreciate the basics of what's happening on your first time watching.
Starcraft is something of an exception here. While the battles are self-explanatory, much of the game time is spent on more mundane tasks like collecting resources and building a base. Moreover, small actions taken at one moment can have a major import 5 to 10 minutes later in a non-obvious manner.
But I digress. The point is games are more exciting to watch.
Not that coding can't be exciting it's just hard to convey that excitement through a Twitch stream.
I do think there is value in streaming coding. To start with, I've personally benefitted from it. Once when I was streaming CodeWars challenges, some people stopped by and gave advice, showing me a few new coding techniques.
I think it's also good practice to put your working process out in the open. It makes you see your own process from a different perspective. And it's even better if you can explain what you're doing as you go along. Clarifying your thoughts into words can actually help you better understand a problem or your approach to it.
This is especially helpful if you expect to go through a technical interview.
The benefit to the viewer is less clear. It takes effort to watch coding. Is the effort worth it?
I think it is, if you find the right stream and approach it with the right attitude.
If you could run code circles around the person you're watching, it's a good chance to sharpen your communication skills. You may have to examine some concepts that you've long since internalized. It's good practice to review, and with the benefit of experience, you may discover new insights on material that you just memorized before.
Also, if you have ambitions of moving into a manager role, your ability to explain your code and concepts to people with less knowledge than you is a key skill.
But if you're being left in the dust by what you're seeing on screen, it's a great time to ask questions. It might seem intimidating to ask a question to someone at a higher skill level, but hopefully, they will be kind and understanding and good at explaining things. I do think that's fairly likely.
So both the streamer and viewer can benefit from this. I recommend you give it a try, either as a streamer or viewer. After all, the streaming scene needs both.

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