One of the fastest growing forms of entertainment, especially among Gen-I (otherwise known as the Internet Generation) kids, is eSports; both as players and viewers. Along with that is the incredible growth of video game streaming; whether it be live on sites like Twitch or as Let’s Play type videos made famous by YouTube.
For many years I have been involved in the technology and blogging arena, having spent more years than I care to count sometimes writing about technology, social media, and other related stuff. For the most part any gaming interests I may have had were centered around offline single-player games, but after a personal life changing event a couple years ago I discovered, and ended up spending a lot of time On Twitch.tv watching some very talented, and not so talented, gamers sharing their gaming experience live for everyone to enjoy.
Since that point, things have changed a lot for me in the sense that I knew my interest in general technology and the silly world of social media was becoming less and less of an interest. In its place I found myself sharing more things about pop culture, especially when it came to the things that geeks love, as well as my mindset about the type of games I like to play; thanks in a very large part to Twitch, and one streamer in particular, but more on him in a little bit.
As a part of these changes I started one new project (this site) and reinvigorated another site (GeekDimensions.com); but at the same time my whole world of gaming preferences changed as well. I spent less and less time playing single-player games and an increasing amount of time playing online multiplayer games like Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft – something that I would have at one time swore I would never play.
Looking back I wonder what was the catalyst; other than those personal life-changing events, that lead to all this and it pretty well boils down to one thing – Twitch.tv and the streamers that make up a really incredible and vibrant community.
It was this community that in large part has helped me through a lot of personal and business changes, but it was also a community that gave me back something that I was losing through my blogging of technology and social media. It brought back a passion and desire to share all the cool things I was finding and learning.
Now, you are probably saying to yourself – what the hell does all this have to do with streamers, fame, and awesomeness?
Well, I’m getting there and I guess the starting point of the reason for this post is a very interesting post I read yesterday on Kotaku about the gaming YouTuber known as Pewdiepie (if you haven’t read it make a point of correcting that oversight – it is worth reading).
Say what you will about Pewdiepie, and many in the industry speak condescendingly of him, he has changed the landscape of gaming, whether it be the rising popularity of sites like Twitch.tv or the massive poularity of YouTube gaming videos.
Personally, I don’t watch his videos, (my grandson on the other hand is a massive fan) however, I do acknowledge and respect the influence he has on Gen-I as well as the impact he has had on the whole eSports, streaming, and gaming video industry. Of course he hasn’t been alone in this influence but he has, for better or worse (depending on your point of view), become the poster boy for the industry.
He, along with big Twitch.tv stars like Sodapoppin, GiantWaffle, Summit1G, husband and wife team Oshi7 & Serenity2517, Sacriel and a handful of others, have also shown us how easy it is to be able to do something you love, and in some cases make a living doing. In effect people like those and many more on Twitch have created a whole new type of career, and there aren’t many people who can say that.
The problem is that in some ways they have made it look too easy, to the point that many gamers want to jump on that bandwagon without realizing that this neither starts out as a career or that it is as easy as it looks – because, trust me, it isn’t.
A little earlier in this post I mentioned there was a Twitch streamer who, for the most part, has had a huge impact on me; both personally and in business. I want to use him as an example of how Twitch game streaming fame and career is neither an overnight thing or as easy as you might think.
The streamer I talk so highly of goes by the name of Dizzy Dizaster (except on Twitter where he had to go with @DizasterDizzy) and really he is the perfect example of just how hard it is to make this new form of entertainment a career.
Many nights I have been in his channel on Twitch (disclaimer: I am also a moderator of his channel chat). I see people come in and the first thing they say is how do you go about becoming a streamer, what do you need, and how long have you been streaming. In general the majority of the question along those lines are pretty easy to answer, but just about all of them fail to ask how much work it takes to actually stream 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. To me that is the question that anyone wanting to stream for a career should be asking.
To give you an idea of just what it takes here are few stats from Dizzy’s Twitch stream. He has been streaming 4 hours a day, 7 days a week for just over a year and a half which has netted him over 550,000 total views, 17,032 followers, and around 200 subscribers; on top of which he also has a full-time day job.
One of the advantages of being associated with Dizzy is that I have gotten a pretty close look at what it takes to reach even his level. A level, I should mention, has numbers like this for full time streamer Ducksauce: 16,234,145 total views (yes that is 16 million), 178,960 followers, and an unknown number of subscribers.
The one thing that all the good streamers have in common though has to be how easy that makes it seem to do what they do, however, it isn’t easy. It is a lot of time, a lot of work, and – a lot of luck.
While you might tune in to watch your favorite streamer (or game being played), you are only seeing the surface of what goes into creating an enjoyable entertainment experience. With many of the successful, and soon to be successful, streamers it is more than that – it is things like:
- learning new games
- learning, and maintaining their broadcasting software program of choice (which can bring massive headaches in itself)
- prepping any graphics that they will need for the broadcast
- prepping any additional video or audio clips that they might use
- constantly worrying that Twitch will actually play nice for the broadcast
- prepping any promotional giveaways that might happen during the broadcast
- communicating with people in their chat
- prepping highlights from past broadcasts for use on Twitch as well as on YouTube
- and one of the biggest time consumers for them is maintaining a very (very) active social media presence, be it be on Twitter, Facebook, and/or YouTube. Most of the time it will be all three.
In many cases, especially with the big name streamers as well as the up and coming streamers like Dizzy, the hardest part of deciding to make this new form of entertainment a career is that it becomes their life, it consumes every available minute they have, and ones they wish they had.
This is the part of streaming that I think the vast majority of viewers, and streamer wannabes, don’t take the time to understand and more importantly – appreciate.
Thanks to Dizzy and streamers like him I have grown to appreciate the effort that goes into bringing some joy to people’s lives, if only for a couple of hours; and if you don’t think they have a huge impact you haven’t been seeing beyond the next giveaway.
I have seen and talked with people whose lives have been impacted by being a member of a Twitch streamers community. I know the effect it can have personally from being a part of Dizzy’s community so before you slough of streamers as some sort of dysfunctional gamer in their parents basement give your head a shake and spend some time in any of the great communities that exist on Twitch.
Just as importantly, appreciate your favorite streamer for all the hard work and dedication that they put into their streams so you can have an enjoyable experience.
I know I have learned a lot from being a part of Dizzy’s Twitch community especially the hard work needed to make something fun and enjoyable for viewers, which I will be taking to heart as I head into my own project on Twitch; but more on that later so stayed tuned.
In the meantime take a minute to thank your favorite streamer; either with a shout-out on Twitter, or by following them, or if you can by subscribing, or even by donating to support their work. I can tell you from experience they appreciate everything you do to show support for their work, more than you will know.