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We're Watching You

Streaming as a full time job

Streaming as a full time job

by Mohamad Hilman (BMCC)

Playing video games used to be thought of as antisocial behaviour. The idea that one could spend hours on end couped up in their rooms, sitting in front of their console or computer playing a video game echoes with the old stereotype of the geeky gamer who would much rather conquer empires, slay mythical beasts or command their own squad of highly trained special ops forces than experience joy of the “outside world”. Long gone are those days, especially with a lot of contemporary games incorporating multiplayer online features, even more so with the manifestation of streaming. Gamers can now spend hours on end couped up in their rooms playing their favourite video games in the “presence” of others (granted anyone would want to be in their channel).

One of the more popular sites to provide users with the service of streaming as well as a plethora of streams to choose from is Originally established as the gaming-focused channel of Justin.TV, another streaming platform, its rapid growth encouraged the company behind Justin.TV to shut the main site down and focus solely on Twitch. According to Gaudiosi (2013) the site would receive visits from 600,000 individual users each month. 3 years on, the numbers have multiplied significantly, with an infographic released by the Twitch’s advertising department putting 100 million monthly viewers who spend approximately 106 minutes daily watching live gameplay. On the other side of the monitor, over 1 million broadcasters share their content on Twitch monthly (Twitch Advertising, 2016). These are just figures to put into perspective the speed at which the video game streaming industry is growing.

So what is the reason behind gamers wanting to put

themselves out there under the scrutiny of the internet? It’s easy money. Think about it, you sit there at your desk/on your couch, doing something you enjoy for the most part (minus the times you want to break your keyboard or controller) all while you’re bank account is being topped up by the partbership money Twitch pays you. Of course, all this income doesn’t just fall on your lap, only the more successful broadcasters who have a large enough following are able to solely make a living off of streaming on Twitch. Most streamers do it as a hobby with the added benefit of earning some cash whilst having a day job to keep a stable income. Broadcasting on Twitch allows for multiple avenues of income the most basic is being a partnered subscriber which means that Twitch acknowledges that you have a high enough average viewership count to warrant a subscription button being added

to your channel. Viewers who enjoy your content would then have the option to subscribe to your channel for whatever benefits or extra content that remain entirely up to you such as viewer games and personalized Twitch emotes.

On top of that, some broadcasters would agree that the bulk of the money one can make from Twitch would generally come from donations and tips. This is because Twitch does not take a percentage of the transaction, as they do with subscriptions, and the donations are a direct exchange between the donator and benefactor with the only third party involved being Paypal (or other online payment systems used by the streamer). If you’re not partnered, the only income you’ll get from Twitch is going to be in the form of donations. Besides that, there’s also endorsement money to be tapped. If you happen to be successful enough to generate traffic, some companies may look to endorse you with having their products displayed on your stream. Lastly, there’s the ad revenue that Twitch pays you everytime an ad is run on your stream. This value increases with the number of viewers the streamer has when the ad is played so this is not usually a large sum unless you are the more famous streamers.

So, why are people willing to watch let alone tip these gamers? More often than not, it’s because of the appreciation that the streamer has provided them with a few hours of entertainment because for the most part, these people are creating content for free, as for a basic Twitch user the service is entirely free. Some viewers who have a few dollars to spare sometimes feel the tips are worth it for the fact that the stream has been entertaining or even eduactional to some. Besides that, just being in the chat with a lot of other people who share the same interests in games can be a reason to stick around in a channel. The social aspect of the Twitch community can be seen as the return of high valued frames of reference within society that during the turn of the century was thought to be in the decline with the rise of technology (Strinati, 1995). Once again, an individual can be in the presence of others, instilling a sense of belonging to a group or community.

If you’re a gamer looking to learn how to play a game, why not tune in to Twitch, and look for a suitable stream to watch? It’s definitely a different experience from just gaming on your own. If you have decent enough internet connection and feel like putting yourselves out there, why not give it a go yourself, granted you should not look to make money from it right from the get go. Good luck if you’re going down that route, maybe I’ll even see you around on Twitch.


Anon, (2016). [image] Available at: http://www.eventsforg

Gaudiosi, [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].. (2013). Twitch rides video game streaming wave to global success. [online] Fortune. Available at: [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].

Strinati, D. (1995). An introduction to theories of popular culture. London: Routledge.

Twitch Advertising. (2016). Audience. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

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