3… 2… 1… Go!
Anime can be a bit of a lonely hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. If your viewing habits are anything like mine, you’re probably doing most of your anime watching after the sun goes down. In my case, this usually means that I end up watching anime after both of my kids and my wife have gone to bed.
This viewing schedule can make it pretty hard to watch anime with friends. Scheduling issues aside, I actually only have two friends that like anime and are close enough to watch anime together in-person. One of which is a very casual fan who doesn’t watch more than a couple of shows per year.
A number of years ago, some online friends and I realized that we could sync our anime viewing manually via IRC (Internet Relay Chat). We would do a countdown and then try to hit play on our media players at the same time. It wasn’t perfect, this added an entirely new social aspect to anime viewing. We could watch anime together with two or more people without any logistical barriers, and the real-time nature of a chat room made it feel like your friends were right there in the room with you.
This all changed when we discovered Syncplay a few years ago. Syncplay is a useful piece of free software that matches up the time on your media player to match everyone else connected to the room. The biggest benefit of using Syncplay over the manual method is the ability to pause or seek and have it do the same thing for everyone connected. It’s easy to set up and really makes syncing effortless once everyone has it installed. Confession time: Syncplay is one of the few software projects I have ever donated to.
Benefits of Syncplay:
- Easy to install/use
- Files do not have to match in format/size – Only length
- Any user can pause/seek to control everyone’s media players
- Compatible with multiple major media players
- It’s free
In many cases, it can even be nicer to have a chat going about a show compared to watching it in person with a group. A chat room is a passive way of communicating, so you only have to divert your attention to read when you want to. This makes it really convenient when watching an important scene where you might not want to be interrupted until you’re ready to look away. Of course, you can also use Syncplay in combination with voice software such as Skype.
While we may continue to see more and more anime shift to streaming sites, I think Syncplay can still serve a useful purpose and deserves more recognition and attention.
Links to supported media players:
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