I haven’t been on Twitch.tv very long by comparison to some people that use the service. I made my account in 2014 but didn’t start streaming until about September/October of 2016. In that time, though, I’ve lurked and mingled both on and off of the site, seeing what all it has to offer.
People come to Twitch.tv to either do one of two things. Consume or Create. To watch others, or to try and be watched by others. This time I’ll be focusing on those that have come to Create.
Broadcasters, or Streamers, come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. They are all different as individuals, but they try to accomplish the same thing. To be seen, and grow, on Twitch.tv. What motivates everyone is different, but not nearly as variable as the people. Some do it because it’s a hobby for them and nothing more. Some do it professionally for a living now because they’ve been doing it so long that they’ve accumulated a following that supports them. Then you have this awkward middle ground. A large number of people that aspire to make it into the big leagues of Streaming. Now, I’m not saying that these three categories of people are the only ones. This is just a high level generalization of the spectrum. Remember, everyone has different motives that drive their decisions when it comes to streaming.
For the Hobbyist Streamer, which is closer to where I see myself most days, we broadcast for fun. In my case specifically, we play with friends and have our own little social circles that may or may not overlap with others that have the same mentality when it comes to streaming. We don’t actively network and seek out new opportunities to put ourselves out there and be noticed. Instead we have tendency to stick to ourselves and our channels grow at a slower pace, which we’re fine with since we’re not trying to turn this into a job. This whole thing is for fun, after all.
That awkward middle ground of Streamers, the Aspiring Hopefuls, is where I sometimes see myself but not nearly as often as I do as a Hobbyist Streamer. In this grouping of people you’ll find those that have seen individuals be successful at streaming (and possibly earning a living off of it) and latched on to the idea that they want the same thing. They want the success, and possible money, of being Partnered. The reason this group is kind of an awkward middle ground, though, is the wide variety of people that occupy it. They have different mentalities on what success looks like. Different expectations and ideas of what they should be doing to earn that success. Some think simply hitting that “Start Streaming” button is enough and people will flock to their channel. Others understand that it takes time and dedication, striving to reach that Affiliate Status. Some have a deeper understanding of what it takes, putting in the extra effort to grow their network of connections. Considering how complicated the whole ordeal is, only a handful ever ascend high enough to reach that dream.
That dream, of course, is to be among the elite few who stream professionally. The idea being that they get paid to play games and have people watch them do it. If you’ve followed along to this point then you know I’m going to comment on how it is so much more complicated than that. Partners don’t have it easy, and not all Partners have it the same. Some have larger followings than others which makes it easier to support them. Others that have made it to Partner status might still hold down full time jobs to help pay the bills. They might still be in the previous category, so we’re going to continue to keep our focus on the ones that have “made it” as Streamers.
Beyond all the troubleshooting and technical stuff, beyond all the money spent, getting to the Top is no easy feat. If you’ve ever watched a streamer that has an average viewer count in the tens of thousands or higher, you probably noticed how chaotic their chat is which makes it hard to keep a conversation. Now, for all of this I’d like to remind you that I’m purely speculating and you should not take my word for it so please hear me out. When you have such a large viewership and active chat, you can’t keep a conversation with them because you have thousands of people effectively screaming at you to be heard or noticed. You lose the connection you once had when you were streaming for just a few hundred or less. You don’t get the luxury of being on first name basis or having slightly more intimate conversations with your regulars because you simply cannot keep up. To get this far, these Top of the Top elite streamers have had to sacrifice this and become some sort of idol on a pedestal with the majority of the voices getting lost to the din of a speeding chat. The only messages that make it through are those attached to donations and resubs because they’re easier to filter out and focus on. This doesn’t grant them much more of a connection, but its something. Either way, they still don’t have much left.
So what do you have left when you reach the top? When you reach that high the only people you have are those that have made it there as well. They become your new friends and family. The friends you thought you had as a smaller streamer may be gone to you because you left them behind, unless they managed to come with you on the journey by working hard themselves or by being a part of your life off-stream. These people have made sacrifices to get to that level of success, and most people don’t think about this.
There is probably quite a bit more I could write on this subject, or on the Affiliate status separately, but I’ll save that for another time. What about you though? What are your thoughts on the matter? Comments are open.