Saturday, December 12, 2015

All Hail The Stream

I’ve become a bit obsessed with Twitch over the past month or so. It’s an incredibly interesting new medium and the way communication works on Twitch is just… so very interesting.
Twitch is a livestreaming service focusing on gaming, but not really limited to gaming. Its scope as a way to build a community and find friends goes way beyond gaming.

Being a fan of Twitch is one part the streamer and one part the chat. Or maybe that should be The Chat. It’s not like a normal chat room, it’s more like being in the stands at a football game. A bunch of people shouting, cheering, and jeering.

It can get a bit chaotic.

Screenshot from Sjru.

But that’s a part of the fun.

What I find the most interesting is the relationships that are then built around all this. Similar to other forms of media, the relationships tend to be one sided. The Chat adores the streamer and feels like they’re a friend, but to the streamer The Chat is largely just anonymous strangers.
Streamers often interact with the chat giving a deeper connection with those in the chat, but at the end of the day it’s still one sided. There’s no real way to know if the streamer has read what you wrote, or even cares.

On top of that there isn’t much intra-community chat in the chat itself. Most of the chat is trying to talk to the streamer and it’s much rarer that people talk amongst themselves.

That’s made me start wondering what kind of effect that can have on a person.

A voyeurism dripping in anonymous internet culture.

It bleeds a certain desperation. At least in between the laughs and escape I get from it, I can feel that it’s feeding the lack of human connection that is a bit too common in my life at the moment. How common is that feeling?

And maybe more importantly, how many streamers are aware of how important they are to The Chat?

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