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I press the “play“ button on Steam client to launch DOTA 2, while I am watching a game. When I press the “watch“ button , I see the title “loading“ on the screen.

Which kind of data (graphics or mouse movements or what) is pulled from the files on my computer, and which are transferred from the game server at that moment?

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The require information for DOTA 2 to display the game information. There is unlikely any information from YOUR computer required to display the game being played by other players. It is a feature like the SC2 reply except they steam the game to you instead of having a file on your computer. –  Ramhound Jun 8 '12 at 17:24
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No data is required from your computer to watch an online game, other than, information about the current data already received from the server.

When you are watching a game, is more or less like performing a continuous download, or like seeing an online video.

The loading you refer to is the application waiting for a certain amount of data to be received in order to initialize the "play". Some methods for this type of interaction may require you computer to load some libraries in order to process the received data, thus being able to present them.

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well, then why bot games take too short to load compared to spectating and playing the game with players only? –  Ozgun S Jul 24 '12 at 9:32
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