Like a chimp stuffing a square peg into a round hole, people love putting things into (figurative) boxes. The concept of a genre is as good at creating order as it is at causing chaos, and it’s easily one of the most misused ways of cataloguing things currently available to us. After all, a title like Resident Evil 4 falls into three or four genres, whether that’s action, horror, puzzle, or something else.
Still, despite all the confusion they’ve wrought over the years, we’d be lost without our endless list of labels. Tags such as RPG, Retro, FPS, and Platformer are a guiding light in stores and on video sites like YouTube. There is an art to using descriptors to find the content you like though, especially when it comes to Twitch. The streaming platform recently added console-specific tags to this end.
Twitch has come a long way since it first went on the air in 2011. Pioneering the idea of the civilian presenter, Twitch ultimately helped create a boom in live media. Both YouTube and Facebook now possess functionality for live streams, for example, online live bingo company Buzz Bingo has added two human hosts on webcam to entertain people while they play.
In the latter case, the introduction of a real person to bingo lobbies gives a ‘face’ to an experience that doesn’t always have one. It’s easy to see why. Once something goes online, it naturally becomes a more automated thing, whether it’s banking, bingo, or clothes shopping. The kind of two-way communication that Twitch and Buzz Bingo allow for creates a social, spontaneous kind of entertainment that wasn’t present during the early days of the internet.
This brings us right back around to how viewers can actually find interesting material on the PS4 with Twitch’s search function(s).
Playing with Viewers
Just to be awkward, Twitch has two search bars that do different things. The first, at the top-centre of every page, searches everything currently on the site but it’s not customisable. So, you can search for “PlayStation 4” or “Red Dead Redemption” and get a range of different results. This works just like any website that has a search bar. It can simultaneously be an asset to its user, as well as entirely useless.
Click through to the directory (“Browse”), and you’ll be able to find genres and similar categories via a second, lower search bar on the left. This means that viewers can look up things like Metroidvania, MMO, or Platformer. Unfortunately, it’s still not possible to use console tags at this level. You’ll actually have to click through to a game first before this functionality reveals itself.
This might seem like an odd way of doing things but it does make some sense. The lowest level of tags is the most granular so that viewers can find streams that cater to their exact wants. Tags such as Playing with Viewers, Ask Me Anything, First Playthrough and No Commentary can vastly alter the Twitch experience for both viewers and streamers, potentially changing the atmosphere from a raucous one to something more monastic.
Overall, yes, Twitch can be a pain to navigate at times but its various search functions can narrow requests down significantly.