The most widely recognized thing I hear when I converse with individuals about watching Twitch is-"The reason would you like to watch somebody play computer games?"
And keeping in mind that that is a substantial inquiry, one that I myself have asked before, it's anything but a precise perspective overall picture.
I've been watching/gushing on Twitch for barely a year now and keeping in mind that it was painfully slow from the outset, I've started to dive in and truly see the secret worth that it offers.
People tend to have varying experiences with Twitch when they first get onto the website. The front page promotes a great many streams of various categories and games. You might see some big names like Dr. Lupo or TimTheTatman who are legends in the Twitch world. These channels are great for a reason. The streamers are skilled and have a wonderful rapport with their chat that they’ve grown over the years.
But those aren’t the channels I want to talk about today.
I used to exclusively watch bigger streamers, those with 4000+ viewers at a time. The only issue I had was, I was just watching.
One of the great allures of Twitch is that you get to interact with the entertainer. The platform allows you to give them bits (essentially virtual currency to use for tipping streamers), chat with them, chat with others, etc.
But with these large streamers, it’s more often than not too busy to really get your words in. You type out a question or comment and before you can hit send it’s already shot to the top of the chat, blasted by the wave of other chatters. You might get a better response if you spend some channel points to highlight your message, but even still there’s no guarantee.
In my experience, the real joys of Twitch come from the smaller streamers, those in the 100–250 viewer range.
While those numbers still seem like a lot, a good portion of those viewers will more than likely be lurkers (viewers who don’t engage in chat). This makes talking to the streamer and others in chat much easier and more enjoyable.
The more time you spend with these smaller streamers, the more integrated you’ll become in their communities. There are several channels that I watch where not only the streamer greets me, but regulars in the chat do as well. You form a bond over time, make inside jokes, create a real sense of community. While that is still there in the larger streams, it feels more meaningful and personal in the closer context of a smaller streamer’s chat.
There’s also a cross-pollination effect that happens in these smaller circles.
I normally move around between different streamers in a particular game section, and more often than not, I recognize chatters from a different stream I was watching yesterday. I know streamers who mod for other streamers in their free time and it’s not uncommon to run into the same few people all across the community.
These little moments really drive home the idea of Twitch not being a sea of individual bubbles, but rather a web of creators and communities that intersect more than it may appear.
This sense of community really brings another layer to the Twitch experience that may not be evident to those who only look at a glance. I’ve met some wonderful people from hanging out in streams and oddly enough, I find times where I almost want to stop my own stream to go hang out in others. It’s a wonderful problem to have, that I’m not spending my time hustling and trying to snag viewers for myself, but making friends which is far more valuable. It adds a deeper, more emotional connection to the experience rather than just mindless entertainment.
Twitch over the years has added more and more integrations that allow for interesting chat/streamer interaction.
Channel points (points collected by viewers based on time watched, following, subbing, etc.) can be redeemed for anything the streamer wishes, giving creative and fun ways to reward loyal viewers. Channel Points can also be gambled in various predictions, giving chatters an exciting and interesting way to entertain themselves during a break in the action by betting on what will happen next.
This back and forth between the chat as a whole and the streamer is another way to join in on the fun together. My favorites are channel point redemptions that allow for some funny moments, like making the streamer play with a high-pitched voice for five minutes or the all-important Hydrate!, which encourages the streamer to take water breaks.
All of these little ideas add up to a rich and engaging experience that goes deeper than just watching someone play video games. It’s an interactive social portal that when used correctly, can yield fun and interesting interactions as well as an opportunity to meet and become friends with new people.