Why I can’t connect with Twitch

Twitch is the biggest broadcasting format on the internet right now, specifically, but not exclusively, when it comes to video game content. Once upon a time, Youtube was the haven for video game focused content creators. But, by their own hand, that’s not really the case any longer.

As much as I continue to watch and enjoy content on Youtube, many creators I enjoyed have started to split their attention between it and Twitch, some making a more permanent move there that I don’t feel like I can’t follow.

I can understand why people move away from Youtube. Recent policy changes have made it harder and harder for new faces to break through and make a living through producing online entertainment. Unlike the early days, when it felt like the wild west. New policy sees Youtube seeming to crack down and demonetize the up-and-comers while doubling down on supporting their biggest names, despite the horrible things they continue to say and do.

It feels like the company has forgotten what got it off the ground and made it as big as it is now; being a platform for the average person to make themselves without any backing other than the sweat off their own brow.

One of the more recent setbacks for the newer creators trying to make a name for themselves is the announcement of a new series of Youtube originals. Shows featuring the likes of Will Smith, Kevin Hart and Jack Whitehall. To me, this is missing the entire point of Youtube. These people already have a presence in traditional media, why throw them all over Youtube too?

Youtube would rather invest their money into big names and their existing big streamers, using their “Originals” and Youtube Red subscription service. When they could use that same money to reinvest in a number of smaller, independent content creators and help them make a career for themselves. It feels like it’s being made increasingly difficult for creators to get noticed without being complete tools.

Honest, hardworking creators are left desperate and penniness, looking for alternative sources of income when the likes of Logan Paul and Pewdiepie continue to get a free pass despite continuing to say and do horrible things on their channels. How many times does Pewdiepie have to drop the N word or make an inappropriate Nazi joke before Youtube just drop him in favour of some bright eyed kid who still cares about putting effort into their content.

Taking this into account, it not difficult to see why many move to Twitch, it’s a much friendlier platform for newcomers and feels like a much fairer playing field when it comes to getting noticed. This is coming from someone very much look in from the outside through. Twitch certainly isn’t without its problems, but new faces seem to get big on Twitch with more regularity than other online outlets.

In case you’re unfamiliar, the premise of Twitch is that you can watch people stream themselves live. Living online is what many seem to do, streaming for most of their waking hours. Many play video games, but others just live their lives for all the world to watch them. The more sensible ones have a schedule, one where you have to show up to see them. Thus my first issues with the platform.

I thought we’d moved away from this concept as consumers. Having to show up at a certain time to watch a show seems like such an archaic concept in this day and age, when recording live television and streaming services are becoming the norm. Why would I want to make alterations to my day around a piece of entertainment, I mean, yeah, movies have a set time, but I still control which screening I attend.

Many would claim the appeal comes from the interaction the streamers have with their fans. My problem is, a lot of the good ones are big enough that their chat becomes a blur of emoji walls and vulgarities. It’s to the point that many streamers will only guarantee they’ll read a person’s comments when it comes with donations, so many people will donate money just to get their words read.

Being present during a few of these streams, the rapidly scrolling comments section is rife with people who have a “notice me” mentality. People who seem to assign some personal value to being called out by the streamer, who are ultimately just people like them. It wouldn’t be so bad if people weren’t so obnoxious about it.

During one stream, there was this one kid who donated a dollar to the streamer and got missed during the callouts. This person got incredibly irate about it. As if they felt they were getting short changed in a transaction. The fact that it was a “donation” seems lost on many people. For many of these streamers, this is their work and how they pay to eat and survive. The fact that this kid was so hung up that they didn’t get some kind of acknowledgement sums up the attitude of the average person in a stream chat.

In general, Twitch chats I’ve been in are horrible places. And these are for the more laid back, good natured streamers. Like the worst of the Youtubers, there are a ton of Twitch streamers who promote and glorify their own crappy attitudes to impressionable kids who adore them. I can’t imagine how much worse their chats are to hang out in.

Oh wait, I can, because online media are always talking about the drama surrounding more controversial streamers and their scummy fan bases. People who make a career out of being offensive or as “angry” as possible while trying to drum up fake feuds with other streamers. I’ve seen a ton of clips online of these (lets be honest) less than attractive bearded dudes, going on rants about “boobie streamers”.

Under some impression that a cute girl with a plunging neckline is somehow stealing viewers from them. Which is the highest level of delusional if you ask me. The problem is, their crappy attitude is still being broadcast from a platform and making fans think its okay to enter the chats of these female streamers and dedicate an unhealthy amount of time to bullying them and abusing them.

The childish behaviour of some streamers has set a precedence for the acceptance of unacceptable behaviour on the platform. Even when people try to clean up their act, the fan base berates them for it. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is one of the biggest Fornite streamer online right now, known for playing a game with Drake not too long back. In a recent story from Kotaku spoke about how he is trying to make his streams more family friendly.

It’s a mature and logical move from a person trying to grow their career in the medium. Of course the guy’s “fans” backlash, throwing out buzzwords like “social justice warrior”, “fake” and “sellout”. I get the impression many Twitch subscribers seem to think they’re part of some edgy subculture movement when it reality they’re part of a huge and popular community. The irony is, most of these people complaining about a streamers decision to add a “PG-13” filter to his content are most likely only kid themselves.

In the end, there don’t seem to be a whole lot of things for me to like about Twitch aside from some of the personalities. It’s usually people I was a fan of when they were Youtubers, and when they realised it wasn’t a viable platform for them any longer, moved over to Twitch. I have joked about losing another of my favourite Youtubers to Twitch, but in the end, them moving there means I miss out on the vast majority of their content.

As I begin to value my time more and more, Twitch becomes a less appealing medium to me. Of course, I could watch archived streams afterwards, but the uncurated nature of a live broadcast means that up to half of a given 4 to 8 hour stream is very little happening. Not to insult the streamers, but I’d like my content a bit more organsied.

It ultimately makes Twitch feel like a platform for people who have a ton of free time on their hands, like kids. Hence why their chats seem to be squalid hellscapes. I do occasionally try and jump in on streams if I get the notification someone I like is online, but when they take over an hour to actually start playing some games I end up feeling there are better uses of my time. It’s just not for me.

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