This will be a somewhat unusual post for the purposes of this blog. Typically, the formula to success here has been taking a topic and either analyzing it from top to bottom or ruthlessly criticizing it in ways that the general public normally wouldn’t outside of extreme cases. Something tells me I’m usually the person people turn to for bad news, or an otherwise grounded take on specific topics, whether it be anime, games, or whatever else.
But this will be somewhat unique, yet not unique in the slightest in hindsight. What I’m about to embark on is something that is generally more expected from an online blog format: a personal story about discovering a new hobby (pastime?). I have officially come full circle and am now blogging about random, sudden passions, some seven years into my blogging life.
To immediately discredit something I just said, this is neither random nor sudden. As evidenced by the title and cover image I definitely spent more than eight minutes on, this is concerning Twitch, the online streaming site home to millions of different streamers around the world for people to tune in to at any hour of the day. My fascination with Twitch has always been present, but the current person I am today is far more knowledgeable of Twitch culture and its quirks than the person I was a year ago, around the time where the roots of my adoration for the streaming giant took hold.
Twitch has been around since 2011—it’s approaching its tenth birthday soon. But to be frank, it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t around. Much like YouTube, various social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the internet itself, Twitch has become so synonymous with the stay-at-home lifestyle I partake in that it’s easy to assume it was born with the internet. People stream like people have a podcast. People stream like people have a Let’s Play channel. It’s something that most creative people try to do with varied amounts of success, and I’m sure many more think of doing, but never take the first step for whatever reason.
In the past (let’s say the last five years for convenience), I barely paid attention to Twitch. I knew it was popular and I knew there were some huge stars making huge money for the company, as well as various celebrities hopping on the bandwagon to promote and simply express themselves. Per my interests, Twitch was generally the platform I used to watch Nintendo Directs or other game-related broadcasts, such as E3 coverage. Otherwise, I would tune in sporadically to members of the Vinesauce crew or random YouTubers I was subscribed to.
One day, estimated between late 2019 and early 2020, I was scrolling through Twitter when someone I followed retweeted another person stating their intention to stream. For whatever reason, I decided to click it. Why the hell not? It turns out, as poetic as it always seems to me, that one click changed the way I viewed Twitch forever.
People Are Pretty Cool
From that point, I would tune in to every stream said streamer would have. Eventually, I began to tune in to other streamers, prominently internet figures that interested me, which led me to more and more people to follow and interact with. By the middle of 2020, I had two major streamers I followed and tuned in to whenever they streamed—one of them streamed (still generally streams) five times a week. Right now, I follow 23 streamers total.
“Well, gee, Kapedako. You wrote all that build-up to reveal that you only follow 23 streamers? Plenty of people follow hundreds, if not thousands!” Well excuse me, hypothetical strawman person I made up. I happen to be very particular with that “follow” button. Doing so is a commitment, an unspoken promise to individual streamers that you shall make an effort to follow their progress and growth as a streamer, an entertainer, or whatever their ambitions may be on the platform. From my experience, almost no one looks at it like that, and are generally more keen on keeping touch if they subscribe, which costs actual money, so the result is that I am very odd.
Nevertheless, that is the way I am. Among those I follow, I try to make an active commitment to tune in to streams at least once or twice a week, sometimes more if I really like them and they stream often. With 23 streamers (Note: four are currently inactive), this necessitates that I tune in to Twitch every day, sometimes for up to 10 hours a day. But this is okay, because my lifestyle makes this very easy to do. I work from home, mainly on the computer, so having a Twitch stream on in the background with occasional input via the chat is a normal part of the workday, and I’ve come to cherish that.
Now that I’ve gotten this far, I want to provide a little bit about myself that I don’t normally share for the sake of the article and the importance of my time on Twitch. I am 27-years-old, with aspirations to make something of myself and to leave an impression on others. This blog, for a long while, was the closest I’ve come to doing just that. But with this lifestyle that I choose to partake in, it means having very little contact with the outside world, which can lead to multiple bouts of loneliness. More as I age, I come to realize that I have a deep desire to connect with people.
This is the crux of what makes Twitch so appealing to me. I mentioned above that I’m very particular with the people I follow. Most notably, I have a tendency to follow streamers very small in scale; generally small enough where my input is generally noticed. I read some random comic thing on Reddit a few months ago that basically represented a fledgling streamer trying to build an audience, attempting to entertain and be fun-loving as the view count read “0.” Quite depressing, just like the site. But it was due to that post that I thought to myself, “I want to be a building block to people’s success.”
Now, I’m not just going to paint myself as some virtuous, altruistic soul whose only desire is to lift the spirits of small streamers (nice as that feels). I also like the attention. I like the interaction. I like being able to goof around in chat and lighten a mood, as my general chat behavior ranges from “Straightforward conversationalist” to “Stand-up comedian.” This is just as much for myself as it is for the sake of the streamer. I have fun meeting new people and placing myself within these multiple “communities.” Not all are created equal, but I like to fill in and keep people company as I can.
I’ve seen multiple retweets from streamers I have since followed on Twitter about how streamers are not the audience’s friend, and despite how much they may interact with one in chat, they are still technically strangers. How they appear on stream may not showcase how they are in person, and there are times when viewers confuse casual niceties with opportunity for intimate bonding. The reason I bring this up is that I believe genuine friendships can occur between chat and a streamer, but the circumstances are definitely key here. From my own experiences, I tend to be too cautious of overstepping my boundaries to forge anything more than that of a dedicated viewer.
So in a sense, it’s like a nice virtual party. People just having a good time and hanging out. While my desire for more interpersonal connection looms, above all, I try to be civil about things. Please do not harass streamers because you misinterpreted your position.
Writing this was kind of an “on-the-whim” thing, so my apologies if it seemed unorganized or… rambley? Ramblish? Ramblesome? Whatever the case, I just wanted to put it out there that I really enjoy hanging out on Twitch and spending time with the people I follow or the people I’ve tuned in to on occasion. It’s been very rewarding for me to be able to make people laugh with my dumb jokes or have them light up whenever I enter chat.
If anyone reading this gets inspired to give Twitch a try for the first time upon finishing this, I would recommend it! Its benefits likely depend on what people are looking for, but whether you want something cozy, something zany and funny, or something completely bizarre, the platform has a lot of variety. Because in the end, it’s the people who make it so.
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.