Twitch grows in popularity with streamers

Ethan Baggett, Reporter

Live streaming is a type of entertainment that is broadcasted live in real time. The first ever live stream was back in the early 90s, but it wasn’t until 2011 that it would become a huge success through a small website at the time known as Twitch.

“Twitch is just a website that spreads information, news, entertainment, etc. via live video,” senior Kaytlin Armstrong said.

The main focus of Twitch was originally to be an entertainment platform for eSports and video games. However, the brand later evolved and adapted more categories that brought about more content other than just video game stuff.

“The streamers I watch are Vinny Vinesauce, Clint Stevens, and more recently, Leon Massey,” senior David Lee said. “They usually stream video games in some way, but they all stream different types of games, such as fighting games or speedrunning them.”

Twitch has become a new way of living for many people, with quite a lot of them becoming live streamers for the platform, such as Stevens, who started back in 2015 and is now a widely popular speedrunner.

“Speedrunning is taking any game and trying to beat it as fast as you can,” Lee said. “There are many communities and subcultures dedicated to finding tricks and glitches that can help beat the game faster. Speedrunners usually play through these games hundreds of times in order to cut seconds or sometimes milliseconds off of their previous times.”

Speedrunning has gained a lot of popularity through Twitch with new engaging events, such as speedrunners racing against each other and big marathon charity events being held on the platform by Games Done Quick.

“The streamers I watch are Ludwig, Lavendertowne, and Peterparktv,” Armstrong said. “Ludwig and Peter focus on just chatting and gaming content, while Lavendertowne is an art focused channel.”

Just Chatting is another category that has gained a ton of popularity on Twitch, as the most watched category with over 498 millions hours of it being streamed. The category is, as the name implies, just the streamer talking with their chat members or friends.

“I’d say that depending on the streamer, content is constantly innovating,” Armstrong said. “I actually really love it when streamers try something new.”

One of the ways to keep their content fresh and gain and keep viewers is to constantly innovate. One example of a streamer innovating is popular Twitch streamer Jerma985, who made a whole carnival that viewers could interact with in the chat. Another way that streamers innovate is also through YouTube.

“In a general sense, I think most content creators will begin on YouTube since it’s  more broad about the content you’ll get, whereas Twitch is very centered on streaming games and other digital media,” Lee said. “However, Twitch has been moving to be more wide with other categories like cooking and make up guides.”

YouTube has also tried to get in on the live streaming craze a few years back and has been another platform that aspiring live streamers try out. However, it has still yet to reach the heights Twitch has.

“The differences between YouTube and Twitch is that while YouTube is available at any time, I think that Twitch gives you more interaction with the people you watch,” Armstrong said. “YouTube is good for binge watching content, while Twitch is better for background noise and interactive entertainment.”

Over the years, many live streamers have found unique ways to integrate the viewers into their content, such as “TwitchPlaysPokemon,” which involves viewers typing button inputs in the chat and those inputs being used to play Pokemon in the stream. This is just one of the many really interesting ways streamers let viewers control their content.

“The best part of watching streamers is interacting with them,” Lee said. “So if Youtube had more ways to interact with the streamer than it could be a better streaming site, but I can’t think of anything they could add that Twitch doesn’t already have.”

While YouTube is a smart platform to try live streaming on, it is still missing a lot of features that Twitch has currently. One example is the Twitch emotes. Emotes are a way of communicating and reacting to the streamers and they serve as milestones for the streamers. The more subscribers the streamer gets, the more “emote slots” they get that let them add new emotes for the chat to use anywhere on Twitch.

Many Twitch streamers have found that a great way to attract more viewers to their streams is also having a YouTube channel that shows their highlights or best parts of one of their streams.  This helps with not only attracting new viewers to Twitch, but with expanding their content to people who don’t really like Twitch and instead prefer YouTube. For some, these streaming platforms provide the means to start a career.

“While I do tend to watch YouTube highlights of Twitch streams when I’m looking for quick content, I’d say I watch more of their streams rather than their highlights,” Armstrong said. “I really enjoy the feeling of having a choice in the creators content and the community of Twitch.”

Both YouTube and Twitch are difficult platforms to try to start a career on. Both require a great deal of dedication and luck on getting your channel off the ground to reach the heights of other successful streamers. Each platform has both pros and cons when trying to start a career on their sites.

“I don’t really think I would enjoy streaming and making content, but if I had to choose which platform to join, I think I’d join Twitch rather than YouTube since I don’t know much about editing and I’ve heard that the Youtube algorithm is way too difficult to keep up with,” Armstrong said.

One of the big components on how people make a living off of Twitch is the donation system. Viewers are able to donate money to Twitch streamers to support them if they are enjoying the content they are seeing or just like the streamer. This is just one of the other many interactions that form a great bond between the viewer and twitch streamer.

“The positives of Twitch for me would have to be the layout of the site and the donation system,” Lee said. “However, the negatives about the site would have to be the ads and dumb decisions the Twitch owners make sometimes. An example of a dumb decision that comes to mind is how they banned the word ‘blind’ and the word ‘simp’, which is literally just a made up word. The streamer I watch, Clint Stevens, put it the best, ‘It’s like they’re trying to eliminate negativity on the internet, which is a losing fight.’”

Twitch has been called out many times by fans for its pursuit of banning negativity on the internet because a lot of people feel like they’re banning words that have no reason to be banned, such as the word “blind.” While Twitch has made a few questionable decisions, it seems like the site is going to stay around for quite a while and remain the number one website for Twitch streaming. 

“I think Twitch is going to stay afloat for a very long time and if anyone were to buy them it’d be YouTube,” Lee said. “Besides that, the only other way for them going under is just making a dumb business decision or if some other site offered better features or accessibility.”

As of January 2021, Twitch currently has 140 million active users with that number steadily increasing. It seems that Twitch has become a great home for interactivity and great entertainment.

“I don’t really think Twitch has anything to improve on,” Armstrong said. “I love how it is right now!”