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April 20, 2016

The first time my stepson showed me a PewDiePie video, it made me feel old. Most of the screen was a video game—except a small box in the corner, which showed the 20-something guy playing it. Every few seconds, he’d make a joke or react to events with an exaggerated facial expression. I remember thinking, What the hell is this?

But the more we saw, the more I understood why Felix Kjellberg, with some 43 million subscribers, is the most-watched person on YouTube. He’s charming and funny, and he knows how to edit himself. And he has turned passive gaming into active, enjoyable entertainment.

I know it might seem weird, especially to those of us from an older generation, that people would spend so much time watching someone else play video games. (That was actually a plot thread in our PewDiePie South Park episode.) But I choose to see it as the birth of a new art form. And I don’t think anyone should underestimate its most powerful artist.

Parker is a co-creator of South Park

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