What is Twitch, and why do I love it?

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Rick Riley-Loy
CONTRIBUTOR

“At the end of the day, that’s all streaming is: having fun with friends and sharing company.” Photo courtesy of Rick Riley-Loy.

Twitch is a platform that has been rising rather quickly alongside YouTube in the recent years. While YouTube is a platform for nearly any kind of content you can imagine, Twitch is based almost purely on playing video games. More importantly, it’s based on live streaming these games to connect with your community in real time.

As of the last year or so, likely because of the pandemic, Twitch has seen a massive uprising of content creators. This is likely because, rather than the pre-recorded content which YouTube is famous for, Twitch focuses on creating communities using live interaction between the video producer and the people watching. Although it’s been sticking almost purely toward gaming in the last several years, the statistics have been simply shocking, up from 300,000 monthly broadcasters in 2012, to nearly 7 million in 2020.

Why does this matter? What if I told you that you could be the next big streamer?

Many people believe that becoming a massive streamer, just like a massive YouTuber, is nearly unattainable. Getting thousands of people following you on Twitch sounds like a pipe dream reserved for the best of the best, with the best of the best content. This simply isn’t true. One of the giants of YouTube is named Markiplier, and with nearly 30 million subscribers most people believe that he started out amazing and just went from there. Markiplier actually originally started out 7 years ago in his mother’s basement while recording on a shotty PC during bio-engineering school. But, nowadays he streams more on Twitch than he does on YouTube because the community is more interactive on Twitch. I also personally started out doing YouTube and Twitch many years ago using a really bad PC, a terrible microphone and no webcam, (although I still don’t use a webcam to this day).

So now that we know anyone could start up streaming, why is Twitch important?

The simple answer here is that Twitch creates a community you can cherish. If you are a gamer like I am and you want to share the experiences you make with a live audience, Twitch is the way you can produce that. I stream anything from tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, to horror based video games such as Cry of Fear, all the way to first-person shooter games like Halo.

If you love playing video games, you can use Twitch to share true and honest moments with your viewers, and they can interact a lot more than they could on YouTube. This creates a situation in which stories feel more honest and genuine, reactions are better and the community feels closer to the content creator. This kind of community can create wonders. Most of us, I’d imagine, have spent many days where we are at home or at work and we tell stories to pass the time and get people to laugh. On Twitch, it’s the same concept but with people all around the world. At the end of the day, that’s all streaming is: having fun with friends and sharing company, and especially in these times, that’s a lovely thing.

While hardware won’t be a large obstacle, software also won’t be that much of a problem. Almost everything for beginning streamers is free, the best tool of which is called Open Broadcast Software Streamlabs. This extremely versatile tool is made for streamers, by streamers, and can allow you to interact with your viewers easily. It’s also completely free. The rest of the tools you’ll learn yourself as you get more comfortable streaming.

With all of this being said, streaming might seem easy, but unfortunately like with any job it can get quite difficult. You’ll get many negative comments, you’ll have long nights spent working on videos, and you’ll need to have consistency. You’ll need to put in as much effort as you can, and know that most importantly it takes time. The rewards you get from it, however, are beyond compare.

The idea that a video you created made someone laugh at two in the morning, even when they were having a terrible night, the fact that a story of yours will be told from friend to friend to friend, the simple concept that you may be someone that someone looks up to in the future and you helped them achieve their own dreams without even being there–that is truly the greatest gift that any job can ever give you. Even with the hardships that streaming can have, it’s a job I wouldn’t give up for the world.

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