My nephews spend hours watching strangers on the internet play video games. It seems so silly to me. Why not just play the game yourself? Why not ask for help when you get stuck? Why not read the instructions?

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel seems just as confused by the phenomenon. “…watching another person play video games is like going to a restaurant and having someone eat your food for you.”

Watching Video Games or Watching Genealogy

It appears Jimmy and I are the only ones out of the loop. YouTube statistics show that there are 2.4 billion hours of gaming videos watched every month. That’s billion. With a B. Wait. What?

I asked my nephews why they would rather spend hours watching someone play Minecraft instead of just playing Minecraft? The five year old said, “Because it’s fun.” Then he may have rolled his eyes at me as he skipped away with the family iPad. The eleven year old, in a pre-pubescent bid to be understood, tried to explain a little more. He “really, really” likes playing the game but sometimes he gets stuck. And, sometimes, when he’s watching, he learns something new. Something that never would have occurred to him to even ask about or try to learn on his own.

Turns out that part of the fun – whether you are playing the game or watching others play – is making new discoveries and mastering new skills.

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that there are a few genealogists I would love to watch work like that – just talking out loud as they go about their family tree research. I could learn so much.  And, depending on which genealogy expert I was watching (Cyndi, I’m looking at you), it could be pretty entertaining as well.

So, who could you watch for hours as they researched their family history?

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