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Gaming together

Twitch connects gamers and creatives from across the globe

When thinking about the concept of a robust and thriving community, video games might not be what typically comes to mind. Yet Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games have been creating complex networks where people come together to connect, learn, socialize and play for decades. While playing games itself isn’t a new concept, connecting with individuals by watching other people play games is  – and Twitch is already one of the most popular platforms for doing so. Twitch is a live-streaming video platform that launched in 2011, primarily as a means for live video game streaming. It has since expanded to include a number of different types of creative livestreaming, music broadcasts, e-sports competitions, talk shows and in-real-life (IRL) content.

Why watch someone else play a video game? This is probably one of the most common questions about Twitch. There’s even a 2014 South Park episode dedicated to questioning the rise of a style of streaming referred to as “let’s play” videos, where a streamer narrates their gameplay. But why watch any sport? Like all traditional sports, spectating is entertaining, fun, and you get to root for your favorite team alongside other fans. Twitch’s popularity fundamentally stems from this concept.

Here’s a look at some other reasons contributing to Twitch’s popularity:

  • Much like YouTube, it’s free.
  • The content is occuring in real time with real-time commentary.
  • Viewers get to interact with streamers, ask questions and participate in dialogue with both the streamers and other viewers through a chat box. According to Twitch, “...you don’t just watch on Twitch, you’re a part of the show.”
  • Many streamers are extremely talented and sometimes even include professional gamers or artists. Popular music DJ deadmau5 is among the professionals who stream their creative process.
  • Viewers get the opportunity to improve their own gaming or learn about a variety of other interesting topics like Japanese woodblock printing.
  • The streamers are not only proficient at what they do, but are often entertaining and relatable. Some of the top streamers easily draw in more than 100,000 viewers per broadcast.

Twitch serves primarily as a video streaming platform, but it also provides a social network and community – one in which viewers and streamers are able to share their passion, knowledge and friendship with one another. The platform allows people to make personal, valuable and authentic friendships through shared interests, where people create memories with one another even though they might live in a completely different part of the world. As this sense of community grows, Twitch is taking the concept to the next level through charity fundraising. As of July 2017, the Twitch community has raised more than $75 million for more than 100 different charities, including St. Jude, Doctors Without Borders and the Whales and Dolphins Conservation. Similar to other charity drives, funds are raised through donations and pledges during a stream often with the reward of Twitch-specific cosmetic items, such as emotes (similar to emojis) and badges.

The community is creating impacts beyond the internet and gaming world, which is a reason why Amazon acquired it as a subsidiary in 2014. As of February 2018, Twitch has grown to 2 million monthly streamers with 15 million daily active users, and there is no sign of stopping. Users are empowering others and sharing their experiences. The Twitch community continues to revolutionize the idea that a participatory experience can extend beyond game play. ■

Ready, Set, Game on!

Whether you’re interested in getting involved in the Twitch community or becoming a streamer yourself, The Studio at Anythink offers programs, knowledge, and equipment to get you started. Not ready to start streaming? Test out some games on our computers and consoles, and make some friends.

 

Send your questions or feedback to ithink@anythinklibraries.org or post in the comments below.