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Twitch streamers who spend years broadcasting to no one (theverge.com)
456 points by ss2003 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 350 comments



What I don't understand about Twitch is how anyone has time to consume this content. When it comes to sitting on your butt and watching something, the traditional TV show is moving to an on-demand model. Twitch is a step in the other direction, where if you faithfully consume content from any Twitch channel, you have to sit down and watch for hours every night when the streamer is online. Who does that? I imagine it's mostly students and single young professionals.


I watch Twitch because I grew up playing lots of video games and now watching is less of a time commitment then playing the games.

Streamers aren't meant to be consumed by watching them every day for hours on end. I mean, I'm sure there are core fans who do that, probably students and single young professionals like you say, but my use case for Twitch is "hey, I have 10-20 minutes free; not even enough time for a full DotA game, but I can see which pro players happen to be online now and watch them play for a bit". This gives me (somewhat surprisingly) lots of the same satisfaction that playing games used to give me; plus it's a lot less stressful (I was mostly into competitive multiplayer games) and without any practice required to get good at the game.

Meanwhile I wonder how people have time to finish entire seasons of TV shows on netflix, given the modern trend of story-driven shows that assume you've actually seen all the previous episodes instead of pre-internet-era sitcoms that you could jump in and watch any 30-minute episode with little context. Twitch is more of a return to old-school TV in that regard.


Relevant HN post from yesterday[0]. I'm sure the same is true for eSports (if not more so!)

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17535995


I believe it to be true. And like professional sports there is an enjoyment to be had seeing how people so far above your skill level play


I thought of eSports / streaming when I read that discussion yesterday.


> Meanwhile I wonder how people have time to finish entire seasons of TV shows on netflix, given the modern trend of story-driven shows that assume you've actually seen all the previous episodes instead of pre-internet-era sitcoms that you could jump in and watch any 30-minute episode with little context. Twitch is more of a return to old-school TV in that regard.

Is this really true?

I know I watched random episodes (Malcolm/Seinfeld/Friends/etc..) and enjoyed it. But re-watching them in the proper order is magnitudes better and clearly the way it was supposed to be watched.

I wonder if the same is true for modern TV shows, e.g. the big bang theory - it can be watched and enjoyed by picking a random TV show. Even longer form, say Firefly/Dark Angel/Twin Peaks require you to watch it in order - yet they could be enjoyed on their own as well (you had basically no choice anyway..).


  Is this really true?
Look at The Simpsons, for example. No matter what anyone does in episode N, the world is reset at the start of episode N+1.


Clearly, you're not a Simpsons fan.


Not quite, Ned Flanders wife died for example.


To be fair, instances of lasting change through episodes were rare, usually necessitated by staffing/pay disputes (e.g. Maggie Roswell, who voiced Maude, leaving after wanting money for travel and not getting it, thus Maude being killed off) or death of the voice actor (e.g. Marcia Wallace, who played Edna Krabappel, among others).


And I do actually remember the amazement in the community when she stayed dead, rather than springing back to life as though it had never happened in the next episode.


It depends if the creators of the show are targeting syndication. Star Trek is a good example of this - TOS, TNG, Voyager episodes are generally self contained and single episode reruns are viable. DS9 on the other hand had more long-running arcs requiring more context, making the syndication rights less lucrative. Rarely did reruns of DS9 air after the series ended.


Is this really true?

No, not really. First off, returning to the status quo is a sitcom thing, not a "pre-Internet" thing, but even then, characters change, leave and are introduced from time to time. Also, you can jump into a "modern" show and figure out any context you need to know pretty easily. I got into Barry and Curb in the middle of their seasons this year, and I still laughed through them...


This BAFFLED ME for years as well.

But I think I've finally figured it out.

A lot of people are watching these streams AS THEY GAME. I can devote 75% of my attention to one monitor as a play "League of Legends", and listen to some helpful coaching from a Twitch Stream with 25% of my attention in the other monitor.

At times when my game is loading, or my character is dead and I'm waiting to respawn I can even devote 100% of my attention to the stream, and engage in chat.

I also can enjoy a stream when I'm taking public transportation or an Uber somewhere. Situations where I would game if I could, but I can't, so watching pros is the next best thing.


I mean maybe, but it's just as the person you replied to said:

Lot of us grew up playing videogames with all of our free time. We are adults now. People in our age bracket who watch Twitch video game streams often probably do so to replace some of that time we wish we could be gaming.

I can't speak on younger generation's consumption of Twitch and Youtube but I imagine for them it's just as normal as watching TV, playing video games, watching videos on the internet (in the early days), or to liken it to something people my generation and older did: going outside and playing.


That's how I watch. When I'm playing an MMO or similar I have Twitch (or Netflix, or Youtube videos) playing on my second monitor. It's no different than having tv or radio on in background while you cook dinner or similar.


I have twitch in background about anytime BUT when I'm playing a game


My hobby is making stuff, electronics, wood working stuff like that. Like gaming it's time consuming and I often don't have the time or energy. So I just watch other people doing it on YouTube a lot more than I do it myself. It's very rare for me to watch a live stream actually live though, more often than not I throw it in my "watch later" after the broadcast.


I think this is a good explanation, however don't you find that you have to be a player of the game in order to enjoy watching it? Not being a MOBA player, I can never understand what is going on when watching games like DotA.


You need to understand it certainly, in the same way you need to understand the rules of Football to really enjoy watching a game. but I haven't played SC or SC2 in years and I still enjoy watching the streams, in the same way that I've never played a real game of hockey but still like watching the NHL.


Depends on the game. I have watched Dota 2 games and have absolutely no idea what anyone is doing or why. I tried playing HOTS and even the tutorial couldn't explain to me what a MOBA is.

I think a lot of Twitch is not competitive games like Dota or Overwatch and are really casual games that anyone can understand. I never played Portal 2 cooperative but can easily understand what's going on if someone is streaming it. I think people that don't play the game but watch are watching games in that genre.

There are also games in the middle, like Fortnite, that are pretty easy to follow. "What do you do in this game?" "Kill anything that moves and run to the circle." Once you understand that you can probably figure out what the streamer is doing and why.


This is why I've always thought Rocket League would take off in a big way, it's as trivial to understand as most physical sports.

So far I've been proven wrong, but who knows, maybe it'll turn around.


I tried Rocket League... I didn't find it that much fun and the learning curve was a bit too steep. I certainly knew what to do in the game, but I could never get out of my elementary-school soccer habits where I just chased the ball around like an idiot, never in a position to make a play. If I was in a good position, I didn't know what the controls did. As a result, not much fun.

Overwatch I got sucked into immediately. I knew the basic idea; kill the red team... and the rest of the details I picked up as I played. The matchmaking did a very good job of keeping the games winnable but not boring. The variety of heroes has something for everyone; from those that have been playing FPSes since they were 5 (Soldier, McCree, Widowmaker), those that picked up Overwatch as their first competitive FPS at 30 (Winston, Reinhardt, Moira, Mercy...), or those that want something completely different (Doomfist, Sombra, Symmetra). I have made many friends in that game, even met my (ex-) girlfriend via "stay as team" after a good match.

The biggest problem Overwatch has is that they made it appealing to the hard-core gamers as well, so you have to wade through all the people in the community that complain about "no aim, no brain" because they happened to play Aim Hero 13 hours a day and believe that's the only skill in a first-person perspective game that involves killing people. And the balance of the game is such that right now, they're kind of right... people with average aim in other games can absolutely destroy with Hanzo given the large hitbox of his one-shot-kill arrows. You don't need positioning, you don't need teamwork; just get those arrows in the immediate vicinity of the enemy's heads and you win, no matter what your team is doing. They'll probably tone him down a bit in the near future, though.


Rocket League has a pretty serious inflection point on the learning curve where the game suddenly becomes much more fun. Basically once you can control the ball enough where your optimal strategy isn't "punt the ball as far as you can", the game gets much more interesting.

I clocked about 200 hours over 3 years before hitting that point, and since then I've done another 200 over 6 months.

Regardless, I think it's one of the few e-sports that's fun to watch regardless of how skilled you are yourself.


I don't know if "it gets really fun after 200 hours" is really going to work on anyone but the most poop-socking maniacs.


Yeah, I felt completely useless in the beginning. It wasn't fun at all but then it suddenly clicked and I started improving. Now I feel like one with the car and can pull of stuff I would only dream of (air dribbles, ceiling shots etc).

Also, RL has become my favorite esport by far. The problem is that unless you've tried the game you don't realize how crazily good the pro players are. Things that wows me don't impress my non-RL friends at all.


Rocket league was meh for me, but then I tried Oculus’s Echo VR zero-gravity soccer - and it’s unbelievably good. Having real physical competitive sport in your room anytime, instantly - it’s like a dream came true.

Not quite watchable on streams and videos currently because first person view on 2d screen is erratic and horribly flat - but I hope games like this is the future.


Just like regular sports, you need to understand the basic rules, but that doesn't mean you need to know all of them. Most people don't know the full rulebook of sports that they watch.

And commentators can make it even more accessible; their expertise is there to help provide context and guidance.


As someone who watches a lot of Dota (at an esports bar with strangers who may or may not know dota) and plays very little, you’re half right.

In football You don’t need to know, exactly, which way the plays are going to go and why, but you do need to know the rough constraints of the game and what is physically possible to perform.

Some of the things that happen in dota are utterly impossible to follow unless you have, at the very least, a knowledge of the (on average 3) active abilities of the ~110 heroes.


Yeah, I think this is the major difference. Being from Europe I don't really know anything about American football or baseball beyond the basics, but watching a game it's pretty transparent whenever someone does something good. I don't need to know batting averages, the difficulty of plays, or why a play was exceptional to know when a player or team scored points.

Games like MOBAs are opaque by comparison. I can see roughly what's going on but I couldn't tell you if a team is winning or losing to save my life. In football if the guy holding the ball is out in front of the defending team and running to the end zone I can guess he's going to score a TD, but a team can look like they're getting whooped in DotA but really they're tricking the opponents and someone is making a sneaky play in a different corner of the map or someone has an ability or gear that means the situation is the reverse of what it appears, etc.

All of that is really only apparent to someone very familiar with the game.


In addition to what others have said (you need to understand the game, not be an actual player of it), many channels cultivate a community of the same regular viewers. While gaming is technically the thing that brings them all together, the streamers' humor, community in-jokes, and a sense of shared interest are what make different channels unique. As a non-gamer, that's why I watch a few of them regularly.

Watching streams is "about" gaming in the same sense that tailgating is "about" football.


Not necessarily, several of my co-workers are big into Overwatch so when the Overwatch League started up in January I started watching matches with them. After a few weeks of asking questions as we went, I felt like I had a pretty handle on it and could start to contribute to the discussion.

You are absolutely correct though. Those first few weeks I had no idea what was happening aside from the occasional head-shot.


The popular FPS games like Overwatch, CS:GO, or Fortnite are easy to understand for someone who've never played them. Dota/LoL/Starcraft are completely different though -- you needs lots of hours of experience to even have any clue as to what's going on. Try watching it, and you'll see what I mean.


This is true of DotA and LoL, but not really Starcraft. Starcraft is fairly easy to pick up and almost all the relevant information to understand who is ahead, who is behind, and how the game is going is easily visible on the screen.

Games like DotA and LoL have too many mechanics built into them that are just debt from their origins as a Warcraft 3 mod. They're not really intuitive or sensical to the uninitiated.

Moreover, in Starcraft if lots of different things are happening at once, it's as technically challenging for the players to keep track of as it is for the viewers. With MOBAs the action is scattered across 3 to 6 areas of the map at the same time, so it's way more complicated to keep track of as a spectator.

The Blizzard MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, was kind of designed from the ground up to be a lot more watchable. They got rid of the item stuff and moved the complexity from being focused on the character builds to more strategic stuff that's visible on the map. But it doesn't seem to have taken off that much.


For some people who used to play RTS and MOBA games years ago, they can still understand what's happening in a complex team game, even if they don't actively play the game.


As a Twitch consumer (married 'professional' in early 30's). I am a huge video game nerd at heart, so I watch streamers that run games that I am interested in however don't have time to play/master. Often it doesn't involve me sitting down for hours at night (although I am sure there's a huge demographic that does that as well). I usually watch when I am laying in bed before I go to sleep. Same time my wife is usually watching some separate but equally mind numbing content to decompress from a long day.

Just another form of entertainment, like tv, but there's nothing I enjoy watching on tv. To each their own.


This. I also enjoy video games and often read up on trends and news... unfortunately I have little to no time to really meaningfully play them. I enjoy watching people who have gotten really masterful play the games I have read about. Not unlike sports.

I also watch things like the Games Done Quick marathons. Those are mostly people who have dedicated themselves to a few games and are mostly interested in completing them in insanely short periods of time. People often spend years dedicating time to shaving off minutes... I would never do that... but I am glad someone does.


Yea I love games and used to play a lot, but they have become a huge time commitment. It’s usually one or more of:

1. Games that simply require grinding to unlock game progression (XP, time-based gates, etc.)

2. Games with numerous hour-long quests that need to be done serially in order to progress

3. Games that disproportionately reward outlier-level skill, requiring a huge practice time commitment (multiplayer shooters)

4. Games that reward deep knowledge of rules and formulas, requiring extensive study and sometimes Excel modeling (Eve Online comes to mind, but also the Civilization series and some sandbox games)

These days if you want something fun you can play for 15-30 minutes and still get good at on that schedule, you’re limited to the bland “Casual Gaming” genre.


These days? Hasn't that always been the case? It's just that when we were kids etc. we had more free time.

The Nintendo Switch has an excellent selection of more 'casual' games. Super Mario Odyssey reminded me a lot of the games I played as a kid.


I would say not really. For one thing, the early days of gaming held onto many elements from arcades where games were meant to be consumed in somewhat bite-sized chunks (Atari, NES, etc).

A big factor for multiplayer games is the somewhat modern obsession with matchmaking and character intro/pick screens. When I was a kid, I could hop into a game immediately for a 15-20 minute deathmatch session of Quake 1/2/3 in any semi-populated server then leave whenever it was time to do homework, etc.

Last I tried Quake Champions, the newest installment in the series, you spend roughly 1-5 minutes in a matchmaking queue then another 2-3 minutes (or more, it was pretty bad sometimes) in some intro/loading screens, then another minute or two in a pre-match warm-up. So even in the same genre's case you're already potentially 8+ minutes sunk into your 15-20 minute 'quick game' period.

To make matters worse (again because of matchmaking) you are penalized if you have to leave before the completion of a match or if you go idle. Usually this penalty is applied as a low-priority queue the next time you try to matchmake which just compounds the problem from above.


> Quake Chanpions

Don’t forget the 2-3 minutes it seems to take to even load the game. QC would be so much better if you could just load it (quickly) hop onto an already-playing game, and skip all the intros and statistics. How did a franchise like Quake backslide so badly?


I think the developer/publisher are just responding to market pressures.

Quake Live (at least for its first few years) was relatively pure and old-school, including in the ways mentioned in this thread, but it was only moderately popular and didn't seem to do well financially. The most (financially) successful modern games tend to focus a lot on extrinsic motivations to play -- including character progression, unlockables, gambling crates etc., but also things that give extra context to individual matches, like statistics and ranking points -- rather than just the core gameplay. People also have less tolerance for being the newbie who loses 100-0, and expect to be matched against players around their level.

Not all of these things are relevant to your question, but some of them help to explain the trend toward lobbies, matchmaking queues, and other obstacles to just clicking on a server list and jumping into a game.


Same boat. I find a chill streamer that doesn't talk much and plays a game I like. I set the TV to 30 minute timer and watch for ~10 minutes before falling asleep. This is similar to people that fall asleep to shows they like -- see https://www.reddit.com/r/Futurama_Sleepers/


Something I'm curious about is where that comes from. Why do people like falling asleep to the TV? Why is it preferred over white noise?


White noise is better than nothing, but my brain won't stop generating content (thoughts) with white noise. When the TV is generating the content, my brain focuses on that, and it's mindless enough to fall asleep to. I think it has something to do with being a mentally active person forced into a passive role, like shifting the brain into low gear.


Check out the Sleep With Me Podcast[1]. Same concept: Dull, meandering talking to lull you to sleep.

[1]https://www.sleepwithmepodcast.com/


Check out the book, "Turning the Mind into an Ally" by Sakyong Mipham. I used the techniques in that book to silence those random, erratic thoughts. I fall asleep within a minute of hitting the pillow now.


Thanks, I will look it up.


Honestly, I do it because I'm afraid of the dark.

When my SO is out of town, my brain generates all sorts of horrible possibilities of things that could happen to my while laying in bed, from simple home invasions to black holes suddenly appearing and consuming my right arm. Watching Futurama (I had no idea there was a whole community around it) distracts me from those invasive thoughts.


I get pareidolia from white noise. Not a lot, but enough that the 'sounds' are more distracting than mundane background sounds like TV or music that I can tune out easily.


Hah yeah, I hear melodies in white noise fairly often. Are you a musician by chance?


No but I've spent a good amount of time doing vaguely sound-engineering work where I listen carefully to audio samples. I may have overtrained some pattern-recognition wetware along the way.


Even 'naturally' generated white noise (e.g. Marpac Sound Machine)? I have similar problems listening to electronically generated white noise but no problems with the Marpac.


Possibly not lab-grade white noise, just broadband audio noise in general: fans, moving water, RF static, voice codec comfort noise turned up too loud, that sort of thing.


If you grew up in a big family and got used to there always being voices and activity in the house, it can be kind of comforting just to have quiet, familiar voices as background noise.


I'm not on Twitch much, but "quiet" and "comforting" aren't really how I'd characterize the voices of most streamers I've been exposed to.


Whoa. I am a The Office sleeper and had no idea that was a thing. There's something comforting about knowing I'm not the only one.


Once upon a time, a huge segment of Western civilization used to fall alseep to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. :)


Nature and history documentaries for me. Pretty sure I've slept through some part of every documentary David Attenborough has made.


The entire ASMR sleep community is built around this premise as well, fwiw.


The Office or Forensic Files and I'm out.


I've been trying to go to sleep earlier for a little over a week now (I used to sleep at about 3AM-5AMish and now I'm sleeping at about 9:30PM-10:3PM0ish now). My sleep plan is turn off all the lights, open up my laptop about 30 minutes before I try and sleep and watch an episode or two of futurama on 1.23x speed. I've been getting to sleep every night since on my target time despite being on an Adderall prescription. Futurama really helps for some reason. I'm trying to build it up to the point where I don't need to watch any show to get to sleep early, but I'm not quite at that point yet.


For me it's dubbed anime, it probably takes me 1-2 weeks to make it through an entire episode.

While I work I need some noise, something, nearly anything. The complete lack of silence bothers me. I usually listen to OCRemix at work (via rainwave.cc) or 90's/00's music from when I was younger (nostalgia).

At home I will put on something like Friends (Netflix), Giant Bomb videos (giantbomb.com), or classic game play throughs (NES, SNES, Genesis) on YouTube (or Giant Bomb). For example, LaserTime did Aladdin SNES vs Aladdin Genesis side by side video and they played through NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpson's games on NES/SNES. Giant Bomb has a series called Vinnyvania where Vinny (one of the Giant Bomb employees) plays through all the Castlevania games and another where they play through all the fighting games and rank them. I'm not into the new games.


Just a sidenote for anyone else who might be streaming rainwave from a limited connection: it uses about 60 megabytes an hour and sounds pretty heavily compressed (only a problem on some tracks)


I like new age music while I work. Tangerine Dream, Andreas Vollenweider, Vangelis, etc.


Another thing about the TV analogy; when TV was only broadcast, many people (well, at least I...) would end up not watching an entire series. You turn on the TV and find out it's episode 3 airing tonight. What do you do? Just watch it and figure out what's going on via context, or try to hunt down someone who has a VCR and already taped episodes 1 and 2?

Twitch in some ways is more like those old days. I follow several streamers fairly closely. And by "fairly closely" I mean "they stream several hours a day and I probably watch 20 minutes of it, amortized over time".


We had VCRs with timed record from the early 80s onward and had a _large_ collection of recorded VHS.

We got into the habit of recording a few minutes before and after the show was supposed to air, as things frequently did not run on schedule. Especially recording things on the major TV networks and recording Doctor Who off NJN who would keep the fundraiser drives going as long as they could before starting an episode.

The only problem with this was sometimes my brother had a habit of taping public access porn over whatever was in the VCR...but that wasn't exactly a problem either. :)


Good point with broadcast TV. For shows I enjoy on Netflix, I'll usually miss the latest season on live broadcast if I forget to set the DVR to catch the series. If I wait until episode 3, I've already missed 1 & 2. So I can hope for enough re-runs to catch them all or wait longer for the series to migrate to Netflix where I can watch on my own schedule.

I also find entertainment in watching game streamers, but I catch them on Youtube at my own schedule as well. I've never attempted to subscribe to Twitch and watch live.


Yeah same. I've found there are a handful of games that are fun to watch rather than play. League of Legends and MOBA games for instance are super freaking boring for me to play because I suck at killing creeps (too tedious for me) but watching pros play is pretty satisfying because the higher level games are faster paced.

Also agree with the TV thing -- lots of things I don't enjoy watching or maybe if its an episode, I don't have an entire hour to watch so rather not start one if I'm not gonna finish it.


Consumer of the content as well. I play some of the games I watched stream. For me it includes insight into how things work and how to play better. Some streamers have good connections to developers and also provide a platform by which they and their audience can discuss a game, mechanics, and such, live, which is much more enjoyable than just posting to a forum.

Finally the more successful streamers are very enjoyable to watch. They engage with their audiences and treat them with respect. Compared to some of the smaller or no audience streamers who don't communicate or are just rude to their audience when they have one.

It is entertainment, it also is background noise for me when I am working.


I work for Twitch but I'll put it in old man terms: I have a subscription to MLB.tv. I watch EVERY SINGLE game of my team each year, that's 162*3 = 486 hours a year. That's 27% of a 1800 hour work year. If you go in season, that's 54%. It's on all day every day that I'm at my work desk. I watch Twitch the rest of the year.

Do I watch it intently? No. Do I know the score and what's going on? Generally. Do I feel I followed the season, YES. Though I have noticed that since I DVR (I watched the world series DURING spring training) a lot I don't keep up with the day to day discussions I actually know less about the team than my brother who watches few games but reads bleacher report constantly.

Why do I do it? Well for 8 years I worked in a heavily paired environment, then went to a job with private offices and felt under stimulated. Started watching baseball / twitch just so it felt like others were in the room. Also I have ADD so these things likely help keep me at neutral input levels.

I'm sure you have some garbage ass tv you just toss on as well. Home remodel shows, golf, blatheringly repetitive cable news. These things are mildly connected to your interest and are either there to be in the background or they're there to let you just zone out and decompress.

When working with amazon I often have to have this conversation with people... it usually goes like this:

55 year old business lead of some VP vertical: It's really wierd to me that people watch hours of other people play video games. It's got to be incredibly boring.

Me: I notice you have a "Masters" hat on. Do you watch that?

55: Yes.

Me: You realize that like 99% of people think golf puts them to sleep.

55: Touche, how much revenue can we make?

Me: XXXXYY

55: I'm interested.


I imagine many here would kill for some peace and quiet at work. The idea that I'd want to add noise and conversation into it is horrifying to me personally.

Even at home, I would never want to have some random thing blaring in the background. I only watch things that are worth my full attention.


With my ADD I find I concentrate more when some amount of background noise. Some things distract me, others like baseball not really, or they distract JUST enough. One of my old coworkers would just put the same song on repeat all day long.


Good point - revenue rules.

By the way, golf and baseball help me take naps.

Cheers


It is really regrettable that humans have this incredibly illogical, subconscious algorithm for making otherwise logical decisions.

Most of the money and capital in this world are held by the older generations rather than the younger generations. The younger generations have to then spend their time "pitching" the older generations on ideas that, in a vacuum, are logical but not evident to the older generations.

As a result, anyone in the younger generations who has a personal relationship with the older generations (such as yourself) will become disproportionately wealthy if their pitch is accepted, compared to say the 27 year old single mother + person of color.


As a person of color, the last time I checked, there are also old people of color. It's not like we just sprung up fully formed 10 years ago or something, okay?


There's no need to accuse me (an ally) of allegedly forgeting your existence when I was merely trying to give an example of someone who is statistically extremely underprivileged.


The entire idea of 'allyship' is racist, tbh. There are >3 billion non-white people. The idea that you can somehow promote all their interests is ridiculous. The only way you can believe that is if you actually think we are all the same. Last time I checked, we don't all share one group mind.


There's an argument in the middle of this muddled statement that's valid, but this seems excessively combative.

The problem is not people with good connections, it's a system that rewards those connections.


Twitch has offered VODs ("videos on demand") for streams for a number of years now, and people who can't see all the streams generally have at least a week to catch up on any content they particularly wanted to see. Skimming works particularly well if you just want the high points.

Where Twitch's live model works really well is in having a community of people all watching together. Streamers often engage with their audiences in some way, and Twitch's recent move to offer lower-latency streams is a reflection of that. There's a recent craze for a marble racing game called "Marbles on Stream", which a streamer integrates with their Twitch chat so that viewers can type `!play` to enter a marble into the race. (It's a Skinner box if I've ever seen one, but I like Jelle's MarbleLympics on YouTube, so I'm not one to talk.) You couldn't do that with recorded content.


Some of them also do Q&A. Fighting game streams have that a lot.


As someone that views Twitch every day I can say I never watch the entirety of a stream. You drop in and view when you have time. It is less akin to watching a TV show and more like going to your friends house and hanging out to watch some of the game.

For the record I'm a 51 year old professional.


I always have a hard time explaining why I enjoy Twitch but I think you just encapsulated it.


Thanks! That really helps me to understand Twitch.

For a while I had gamer friends who lived just down the street. It was much more enjoyable to hang out and watch them play than it would have been for me to play their games. I just didn't have the time to invest, so my main experience of AAA games was 20 minutes of flailing at level 1 while asking which buttons did what. It was way more fun to watch them kick ass and zoom through the game.


Yeah this is close to what I do as well. I have a few people that i've found on twitch and like to hop on for a little while to say what up. The only time i seriously watched twitch for hours was when hob was doing the dark souls trilogy no hit run. I was watching for hours lol my wife really grew to hate that haha.


I'm not a twitch streamer/viewer, but I believe a lot of folks are in it for the community aspect. Following your favourite streamers and being a participant in the group chat - especially if your streamer chats with the group - is a way for folks to feel like they're hanging with friends.

In contrast, watching TV by yourself can be quite lonely.

There are a lot of other differences between TV and twitch; I'm not sure how much worth there is in comparing them. They seem (to me) to mostly be different categories of products that happen to both include a video component.


I moderate a Twitch channel that has about 800 viewers for any given stream. (1100 paid subscribers or thereabout.) I don't do it every day, but I do find the streamer entertaining and I play the game he streams, so it's a somewhat educational (you can apply what you watch to your own gameplay) way to zone out and not do any thinking. Sometimes you feel like watching, sometimes you feel like playing. Since I started watching Twitch streams, I honestly haven't watched normal TV and couldn't name any current TV programs or movies; Twitch has taken that over. (Why watch instead of play? Rank is at stake and if I'm tired and not going to be making good decisions quickly, I'm just going to throw the game and lose my precious precious SR.)

You are right that the audience skews very young. Most of the viewers are half my age, and act like it... but we do do a pretty good job keeping the discussion intelligent. Most people write off Twitch chat, but if actively curated it can be educational, interesting, and inviting to more than just the "I'm 15 and my parents won't let me watch TV so I'm watching this on my phone" demographic. Most channels stopped trying; we try and we're doing okay.

Some games are easier to watch than others. Overwatch is fine, it's a very action-packed game and there are no boring moments. I play Hearthstone but honestly don't watch any streams because it's just sitting there for 70 seconds waiting for the streamer (or their opponent) to make a decision. I do watch edited videos on YouTube to see how decks I don't play work, however.

The downtime can really be a killer, though. I was watching a popular Hearthstone streamer play over the weekend (I was bored) and she spent most of the time playing that game where you draw something and the AI guesses it while waiting for her opponent to take their turn. Not worth my time.


As a once-moderator for a smaller stream, I can definitely confirm that there is gold in them Twitch chat hills. Community shaping is important and often overlooked, and it really does help to have a moderation team that cares! It helps that my streamer is more of a variety streamer than someone who sticks to a single game or two, so he has a large core of viewers who are there for him and his friends, not just for the game at hand.


Twitch has become my default entertainment at home.

What I really enjoy about Twitch is that I can have it on in the background while doing other stuff (coding most of the time).

I am a huge video game fan, but as I aged, unfortunately, I found it difficult to dedicate time to video games (and there by taking time away from my coding). Twitch allows me to not only get the story of video games, but enjoy the game along with an entertaining streamer and chat (though I rarely ever pay attention to chat).


I think there are a few components as someone who was like "how do people watch others play video games" to now a casual gamer/twitch watcher:

1. Some days I wanna play, but I'm not actually on top form, going to twitch and decompressing by watching someone else play, live, has this strange humanness to it. In the most absurd of ways, you build a "friendship" with the streamer, even if only as a voyeur. I hate that reality, but I found myself liking the characters and tuning in to specific streams.

2. A lot of great plays/rounds/etc will get "clipped" and make rounds on various social media so I don't have to keep up 24/7.

3. Big "esports" events are the same things as normal sporting events, people will record/watch live and make time for the things that are important to them. It surprised me too, but being on the "other side" now, it's fun.


I guess people treat it like sport. Most people wouldn't think it strange for someone to watch a 90 minute football match


or in the case of american football fans, watch 3 hours and 4 minutes of ads and commentary around 11 minutes of plays.


Twitch replaces TV and competes with YouTube and Netflix time for me. I watch it in a lossy manner, where it's usually on while I work from home. The only time I'm watching Twitch in a lossless manner is when a Starcraft tournament is on, and in that case it feels exactly like watching back to back hockey games: about 5-6 hours of competition on a weekend.


Starcraft tournaments replaced traditional sports for me too! So good.


Same here, but with Age of Empires II! I still tune in to the biggest SC2 events even though I don't really know what's going on, RTS is just such a sick spectator "sport".


The biggest reason in my opinion is that its an interactive and unfiltered experience.

Seeing someone on the other side of the world react to a comment you write gives you a huge sense of connection. More than a passive TV show can offer.


>Twitch is a step in the other direction, where if you faithfully consume content from any Twitch channel, you have to sit down and watch for hours every night when the streamer is online. Who does that? I imagine it's mostly students and single young professionals.

Streaming is great "background noise" for when you're bored and sitting around the house. It fills the same niche that I think sports does for sports people. It's live entertainment with no fixed outcome.


So, the same as watching sports? Most need to limit what they choose to watch, you don't have to watch everything.


This was pre-Twitch, but I used to work at a company where the tech team after hours would play Age of Empires for fun. We kind of got into it, we would read strategy guides, blog comments over whether it was best to be Assyrians or Babylonians or Choson etc. Some people (not us) would really get into it and spend hours measuring things like how long it took for a catapult to get from one side of the map to the other, measuring each second and pixel carefully.

I'm sure if Twitch were around and some of the best players broadcast their games with live commentary we would have watched them for pointers. I used to play Quake and remember watching a pre-Twitch video of one of the best Quake players, "Thresh", and observing how one of the best (perhaps the best) Quake players played the game.

In terms of time, it's like people taking golf lessons to get a better swing and get their par down, or people reading chess endgame books to learn how to properly do a bishop and knight checkmate, or what have you. I guess you're right about students and single young professionals, as that is when I had the time to spend on improving my skill at various games.


It depends who you ask

I don't play as much video games as much anymore but I had 5000 loyal followers that would take my word as the gospel. I had some offers on a dozen gaming networks, the biggest one was TGN. I would categorize twitch followers based on age demographic, since this is most of the behavioral trends I noticed

Young millenials have nothing to better to do sometimes and really enjoy having that "virtual friend" / "virtual older sibling" mentality when it comes to video games. It fills a void they have and its easily accessible, all they need is their phone and internet. No need to schedule things with your buddies who might not be in the mood to game. Example, pewdiepie's viewers are on the younger demographic end

General agnostic age categories - I would divide into four areas regardless of age.

------------------------------------------------------------------

- One (like me) who still likes gaming and wants to keep up with some games mostly out of curiosity / bc I don't have time, so I watch gameplay videos mostly on youtube. I skip ahead sometimes and only watch videos here and there, sometimes at 2x speed.

- Two, people who have nothing better to do and enjoy watching streamers as a form of entertainment. Sometimes I would fit in this category as well, I watch a few fortnite players (nickeh30) who just have a great personality and are able to pull complex movements that only maybe 0.1% of players could do.

- Third, people looking to get better at the game by watching streamers. I sometimes fit in above category

- Fourth, we also have the esports area. This is your diehard sports-level fandom and I used to be a huge fan of DoTA partially because I played it for 10+ years and played with some of the top players competing today. It was nostalgia for me if anything, much like people who loved soccer growing up watched the world cup

------------------------------------------------------------------

So there you go, that's how I categorize gamers on twitch. You also have kappa trolls among other things and also softcore porn tailored towards parental controlled networks for kids nearing puberty but that's a totally different story. Then you also have programming streams, we get a largely mostly older / smarter tech audience for that.

Twitch does have an API as well if you want to do data analytics on it


I play Heroes of the Storm, so I sometimes open their esports tournament stream and keep it playing on the side. If a match looks interesting I'll pay attention or note the teams that are playing so I can revisit the VOD later.

For big StarCraft tournaments I sometimes tune in to major events as well. You can always watch the VODs later, but it's fun to chat with people during the games, or posting your thoughts while things are ongoing on the appropriate subreddit.

So it's similar to keeping ESPN running on your TV, or tuning in to the Superbowl or World Cup finals.

People sometimes even go out and meet up at venues to watch these tournaments. For example, in the bay area there are a few gaming lounges / bars that show major game tournaments. That can be a good chance to socialize with people who share a common interest with you.


Yeah tournaments I get. Like sports, it's a big event. I was referring mostly to the nightly gamers that were featured in the article.


You can engage much more directly with smaller streamers. I used to seek out streamers of a certain strategy game with a dozen or so viewers and offer play suggestions. Usually little enough is going on (chat wise) that you can talk to the person about the game and specific decisions.

It can also be fun to just chat with like-minded strangers while a game is going on in the background.


One of my coworkers keeps a twitch stream running in the corner of his monitor almost all day long.


I feel there's a few things worth mentioning that either haven't been mentioned or I have a different take on.

For me, Twitch is background a lot of time. I have 3 monitors, so I often have youtube or twitch up on one while I work on something, and it has a chat, so you can interact with other people watching it and their conversation if the whole thing isn't just a giant meme-blast-fuckathon like it is on so many popular streams. In this era of marathon-oriented Netflix shows, Youtube and Twitch are surprisingly reminiscent of old-school TV in how little attention they demand.


It makes sense if the player is REALLY good at the game, ie. in the top 0.1% globally or similar. It serves as a learning experience. You will learn much faster by watching a good player compared to grinding the game and slowly discovering the same mechanics yourself.

You probably wouldn't watch some random kids stream of them playing football in their backyard. Now imagine Messi himself doing exactly that and also commenting it live, explaining all his tricks and his reasoning for every move he makes on the field. I bet you would be much more interested.


As someone once part of the communities which represent 'hard core' twitch users, a large demographic is age 16-28 males with one or zero core responsibilities - commonly college or a blue collar job. They go to class or work, then get home and spend 6+ hours gaming and on twitch.

Think of it this way, if you only have that one obligation and no social life, what else are you going to do? No, watching twitch streamers or hanging out in ephemeral discord channels is not a true substitute for a "real" social life.


This is very frustrating for me. I like to watch skilled players who explain their startegy to improve my own game play, but streams are a slog to watch live. Some streamers archive their streams, but big chunks of their recordings are muted because they play copyrighted music.

I know I'm in a tiny minority of people that watch streamers as a learning tool and not as a source of entertainment. No reason to cater to people like me.


> but big chunks of their recordings are muted because they play copyrighted music.

It's ridiculous that Twitch mutes audio, even if it's only a few seconds. Fair use is being totally ignored.


> Fair use is being totally ignored.

It might be fair use for the streamer, but it almost certainly isn’t for Twitch.


That's nonsense.

What you are saying is that Fair Use cannot be utilized, because the hosting company is somehow violating copyright.

That is the same nonsensical logic that is used against MegaUpload and bittorrent; the same nonsensical logic that Youtube's Content Protection system is based on; the same nonsensical logic that drives DRM.

The world is not better when copyright holders are able to compel a third party to win their disputes. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in.


Sometimes I see people playing an old indie game I love and watch it for like 20~30 min. I don't want to invest in playing it again; I've already played it several times before..so with twitch I can watch someone play for a few min to burn some time.

I worked with one guy who'd keep StarCraft competitions playing in the background on his third monitor while he coded all day.


Only the most dedicated fans engage in that sort of thing.

I think most people use it when they need something low-investment to watch for a bit, pull up a popular stream for whatever game you're interested in and you have something that you can easily step in or out of, switch to a different stream if one gets boring, etc.

Same way some people use reality shows and similar such things.


> When it comes to sitting on your butt and watching something, the traditional TV show is moving to an on-demand model.

Just b/c it's moving that way doesn't mean that behavior is going to go away. People watch CNN/FOX for hours straight (usually not attentively watching it mind you). This is no different.


I know a guy who made millions by getting in early on Crypto. I had to room with him for a month, and it wasn't until then that I realized he watched Twitch all day. I mean, literally all day. 95% of the time I saw him that month, he was either watching a stream or playing Fortnite.


The average person consumes 8 hours of media a day - 5 out of 8 is television but of course, that could start to move towards streams.

http://erikaugust.com/thoughts/eight-hours-a-day/


I'm in my late 30s, and my girlfriend and I are currently streaming more Twitch than Netflix. There's a use case where sometimes you want something on in the background while you're doing other things. Usually we'd stream Netflix shows we've watched already, but after doing that the 10th time for a show, it gets stale.

When you find a streamer you like, it can be very relaxing. It's also introduced us to games we wouldn't play otherwise. My girlfriend hates anything scary, but we found a great stream of Last Of Us that made it really fun. I've also discovered new games to play through it.

So much depends on the streamer, though. If you don't get it, you probably haven't found the right one for you.


I can't do scary either - what's the Last of Us stream and can I start from the beginning?


I watched a lot of Twitch while I was playing video games myself. The slower paced games (Cities Skylines, Factorio, Minecraft, Civ 5, etc.) have occasionally monotonous periods where having something in the background is nice filler.


There're games I enjoy but not very good at and streamers that play these games that I find entertaining to watch.

I usually keep Twitch playing while I do some housekeeping churns or cook. If there's a playthrough I particularly enjoy, I play VOD over a course of a few days for about 30 minutes at a time (usually one or two sessions a day). Otherwise I either watch live if one of my channels is online or pick a VOD from one of them.

Basically I treat Twitch channel as a YouTube channel or a podcast with an added bonus that they often broadcast live, too, and I can interact with the channel host.


For competitive games, watching a rank 1 player do their thing will save you much more time when climbing rating than trying to figure it out alone. Sure there are guides and videos, but that really doesnt do the same justice.

Even just watching how a high performing esports team communicates in real time is pretty interesting.

It's down right impressive at how much some people can process in real time.

Also, i find it super entertaining to watch very skilled people do somthing that they enjoy. I might watch 1 hour of tv a week, but probably 2-3 hours of twitch in small intervals (30 mins here and there)


I have it on my other monitor while I develop. I don't divert full attention to it, I'm just listening then periodically tune in when I'm in thought or need a small mental break.


replace "watching TV" with "hanging out with your friends" and maybe it makes more sense


I recently started using Twitch for poker streaming channels, but I also like to watch the video game play, since I don't have to go through any learning/skill curve to play any game myself - I can sit and watch play, and be entertained (team battles) or depressed (Assassin's Creed) with what players are doing with their time.

I'm definitely out of the target demographic for Twitch, but I consider it an additional entertainment channel when I'm bored of content in traditional media such as Youtube TV and Netflix.

Cheers


The thing is you don't have to sit down and watch a streamer for hours at a time. There's a variety of content that you can just switch over to someone else you follow that's streaming, or just watch the past broadcasts of streams you missed. It's kind of like watching youtube videos, or even traditional couch-surfing.

I spend an hour or so every night just browsing through streams to look for interesting content, swapping between games and IRLs. It's a good shift away from production TV content.


>What I don't understand about Twitch is how anyone has time to consume this content.

My impression is that most people are just having it on in the background while they do other stuff. If this sort of thing was around back when I was in college I can definitely imagine myself streaming something on Twitch while I studied.

The overall vibe seems to be analogous to having someone keeping you company while you work. Not that different from talk radio shows, only more interactive.


I mostly watch Twitch during a big title release, just to see if I am interested or not. I also like watching big events like Overwatch League and other competitions. To me it is relaxing to watch people that are very good at the game play because I also learn from them and do that myself in game.

some just don't have the money to buy the game they want so they go into Twitch to watch that very game and get their fix until they can purchase that game.


I don't mean to be rude but you are way off course about who/why people watch Twitch streams. Sure some of the Twitch viewerbase fits your description but plenty of people will tune in for a short period of time. ESPECIALLY people who don't have a lot of time because it can satisfy people's video game urges without actual investing tons of time in playing.


I treat a few recurring streams as podcasts where I just listen to the audio after it's already aired. That's pretty much it, I don't really watch any content and I don't show up to streams while they're live.

Twitch's VOD player is not particularly good, I might even say pretty bad, but you can absolutely watch on-demand.


Twitch is more like live-sports, at least the streams I watch, which are Soulsborne (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc) speedruns. I'm self-employed, so it makes watching easier, but definitely not every night. Some of these streamers will play the same game for 8+ hours a day... for years. It's insane.


I always have a Twitch stream running on my second monitor. The live chat is what makes it different from on-demand.


I love having it on when I'm just hanging out at night. I like the background noise, almost kind of like radio I can pay attention to if I feel like it.

There are people who will sit down and watch full broadcasts and in that case it can be a lot of time.

A lot of streamers are just always on which I'm sure makes it easier.


I used to watch it before falling asleep, you can start and stop watching at any point without losing much.


I'm a business owner, dad, amatuer athlete, and watch a LOT of Twitch.

It plays in the background when I'm grinding on work stuff late at night, or when I want to do SOMETHING that isn't watching TV. Much less commitment and effort than the games themselves, and feels about the same.


Most streamers have a fixed schedule so it's not that difficult to catch them online. I'm not sure why you think it's for students and single young professionals or that you need to spend hours of time online, you can watch whenever and for however long you want.


Reading the answers to your comment is kind of depressing (and that's a depressive speaking :-)).


Dual monitor setup, minimised tab being effectively audio only, its also an equiv. to an online howto, cheat, or game mag. Don't underestimate how widely popular certain games such as LoL, SC2, PUBG, and many others are. I also suspect numbers are inflated.


Many folks are obviously not that busy. Simple TV consumption for example is still a few hours a day … And I am not included in that average, so a lot of folks spend a substantial time of their day with passive screen use.


I've witnessed large groups of programmers in open offices who all have twitch running on their iphones and are listening in with headphones. They literally watch/listen to twitch all day every day at work.


Depends I have watched / listened to say critical role whilst chilling in the evening and also whilst working at home.

Though this is partially to pick up tips for when I GM IRL though my players aren't as well behaved :-)


A guide to playing many popular games on twitch, written even a few months back, is outdated much faster than even JavaScript framework best practices. As a consequence of this, content which is new has natural advantages over content which is not new. Content even a week old can be so out-dated as to be worthless, not just in theory but frequently in practice. In fact, the strength of the advice and the likelihood that the advice is outdated within a week are actually correlated, because game developers do balance patches.

From these observations, if you assume that people are watching gaming content to learn, you should be able to reduce confusion at the popularity of live content on twitch and start to get an understanding of why Twitch does not represent a step backwards.


The fruits of the paradox of choice. Many despised (not me) the limited choice of TV curating content. Now every god damn group on earth can have it's tiny little channel in the background.


There’s something more there: a desire for community and interaction.


I enjoy watching good/pro Halo/COD players. I'm not at that level myself and don't have too much time to play, so it's cool to learn new tricks from the pros.


I watch streams to socialize, thanks to the chat function. I usually don't care much about the game they play and I only watch streams with less than 30 viewers.


I honestly don't understand how twitch even exists. I play video games on occasion but can't imagine wanting to watch someone else play.


I thought the same thing when I learned of all the "Let's Play" content on YouTube. There are probably millions of hours of videos of funny people casually playing video games on YouTube. The content comes out so fast, and you can only consume so much of it.


A lot of people just put the stream on the background and go about doing their thing, it's like turning the radio while working for some.


Streams are stored so you can watch after the fact, in which case it’s basically TV.

There’s no requirement that you only watch while they’re online.


I've enjoyed watching long streams of MP Hearts of Iron 4. At least before I mastered the mechanics of that game.


I don't know that anyone faithfully watches every broadcast. You host turn it on if you feel like watching


I don't understand the drive to watch someone else play, when you could be playing the game yourself!


I put twitch in my second screen while playing videogames. I guess it's the same for most watchers.


You can say the same about competitive live sports, and clearly your argument doesn't apply.


I put it on for noise/background content when cooking/cleaning/working etc.


Twitch has VODs as well, though, and the majority (but not all) of Twitch I watch is VOD.


I think you’re missing the entire, huge segment of young non-student non-professionals.


Background noise while working.


i do that. the watching is not passive, you can discusss with the streamer and affect his actions or get explanations on a specific question. i use it to get better at go game.


it's fucking addictive. they probably don't have the time to do it, but do it anyways


you can watch twitch on demand too. its like sports, sports is more fun live.


Stoners.


> What I don't understand about Twitch is how anyone has time to consume this content.

Who has time to write comments on an anonymous forums? Who has time to watch TV? Listen to music? Who has time to watch a couple of men kick a ball around? People make time if it is something that interests them.

> you have to sit down and watch for hours every night

You don't have to. You could just check in for a few minutes while you are eating or programming or cleaning or anything really. Also, many streams are available for viewing "offline". You don't have to be there for the stream. You could watch it later.

> Who does that?

Tens of millions of people?

> I imagine it's mostly students and single young professionals.

Probably. It's usually the younger generation that adopts tech and then slowly the older generation follows.

Not sure why you are so shocked? What's the difference between twitch and TV or watching the world cup? At least with twitch there is interaction via chat.


Actually it's mainly kids, teens


Having spent literally hundreds of hours producing video game content for youtube and twitch, I can say this:

It's an incredibly sad, discouraging experience even if you get traction (and I got some traction). It's also utterly hollow: your entire existence is as a wrapper around the content folks actually want to see. The most successful streamers develop their own brand, but these people are the 0.5%, the Felixs and the _sips and the ZachScotts. They're the exception, and even they have specific genres and subjects that if they venture into they risk losing a massive chunk of their audience.

Once I realized this, I had to stop trying to do it professionally. I'd rather go back to doing software product work. At least I feel like a real person with real impact in this field, as opposed to one of a billion interchangeable wrappers around other people's mostly interchangeable content.

But you can of course go see my youtube channel and watch my old minecraft content if you want. Some of the stuff around the middle of my cycle (i.e., D&S play Minecraft, Minecraft the Hard Way, Sunless Minecraft) was pretty solid for the genre.


Similar boat of making Minecraft videos in the past (2011-2014). It was mostly just my friend and I playing through various Minecraft adventure/puzzle maps. We got a couple dozen to a hundred followers through luck/timing (playing new maps that later become popular) but didn't get too far.

Then one day my friend on a whim did a skit that ended up doing very well (it got featured on wired.com and even posted on HN [1]). We got a lot of attention from this skit (and one or two others), but this really wasn't content we wanted to dedicate ourselves towards.

It was extremely disheartening seeing the wide disparity between videos we wanted to make and videos that got views--we loved to think that people enjoyed watch us, but it was really clear that most people just wanted to see more of those two/three videos.

I don't think I regret the time spent though. Doing LPs definitely strengthened my ability to explain what I'm doing as I'm doing it, a skill I use all the time as a software dev (and one I definitely see others lacking). It also gave me a ton of experience with video editing, which while not as useful professionally is a lot of fun and I think a useful skill to have in your pocket.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3543039


I watched your video and I think you would do a lot better if you used your real voice instead of a computer generated voice. The content is great though.


Personally, I liked the voice. The posh accent fit the educational video component, while the synthetic, glitchy nature fit with Minecraft and the comedy of the whole thing.


> your entire existence is as a wrapper around the content folks actually want to see

Yeah, what sets popular streamers apart is that their 'wrapper' is distinctive and entertaining in its own right. Everyone is showing much the same product; what can you put around it that's different?

Kind of like selling fizzy drinks, I guess.


Sort of. I've been making art for a long time, went to school for it.

People want to see themselves in whatever you produce for them. It's that simple. They want something they identify with.

Artists and content developers can have more fun playing with it because they have different meaning spaces - they see connections across content that is still self identity, it's just across a different set of things. It can be competitive and draining though, so one must use their energy wisely.

Crowds can be fickle in general, so it can as well be exhausting staying plugged into them, producing just for them, without any way of receiving meaningful feedback.

It's not that people are narcissists at heart, it's just that they don't want to pay attention to things to things that don't make sense to them on any level. That's pretty normal.


> People want to see themselves in whatever you produce for them. It's that simple.

Funny thing is comrade Tocqueville hit on that upon looking at the USA for a couple of months almost two centuries ago.

Something along the lines of "democratic peoples want to hear stories about themselves" (instead of the classics), rather early on the pages of his Democracy in America, writing about theater and culture.


Now that I think about it though, it really depends. If there's no stable reflection of self identity, that's what people seek out. But if there is a stable way to identify with the self, people seek out novelty, something different.

I think the internet introduces both tunnel vision of self identity and complete chaos where self identity breaks down. This seems like it would be an obvious consequence of anonymity, but some things are easily forgotten.

It makes sense with the Democratic process. Identities constantly swapping and merging, playing both sides while being neither fundamentally. It makes sense that communism would have a valid criticism. Stable, forced sense of identity suppresses dissent before it manifests. Until revolution, war happens, that is. Scary stuff!


Back in the old days of broadcast TV trying to hit peak audience, the voluntary sameness of the various broadcasters was scary ...


People like to pretend that they're unique and provide something special. But in reality, I don't really think most do.


I personally know Markipler (youtube, 23M+) as well as follow some other people here and there.

There is a youtuber; BloominBanana I subbed around the same time I subbed to Markipler 2010ish, they both do (did?) the same horror gameplay except Bloomin' has about 12 subs on youtube.

Mark as I knew him was the king of 'going out there' he was never afraid of marketing, publicity stunts and was honestly humble to his huge user base where Bloomin' despised marketing and wanted to grow "organically".

Growing organically isn't possible. You need to do something, you need to bot and break rules on twitch, you need to ask for publicity, you need to make friends with other streamers. Playing a game and being funny doesn't cut it anymore


Yeah. Speaking as someone who ran a rather large fansite about NIN in the 2000s (the entity now basically exists as a Twitter account), you really cannot just "grow organically" on today's internet. I like to tell people I have a marketing allergy. Self-promotion feels gross. The "if you build it, they will come" mantra from Field of Dreams is not applicable to a world where so much more content is being created than can possibly be consumed. But I realize that if I want something that I'm doing to gain any traction at all, I have to get other people talking about it, and that there are pretty well established ways of making that happen.

When the internet was a smaller space occupied primarily by nerdy types, you could make something interesting and by the nature of the medium, a lot of people found it. You thought you really hit it big if you made Slashdot, but getting featured on television took it to a whole different level. (For example: The Dancing Baby) You didn't need to have a face or a personality - your content actually could speak for itself. But even back then, taking those extra steps usually didn't hurt, either.

Now, the internet is full of professionals of all stripes, and that means you're fighting for attention against people or entities who have a budget for marketing and PR. I can take the most beautiful photos in the world and put them on Instagram, but if I'm not actively marketing that account, no one will ever see them. Meanwhile, some dope with a fresh set of credit cards rents a Lamborghini for a photo shoot, buys batches of followers, and that will grow a following, and maybe he'll get a free night at a posh hotel out of it.

Maybe Bloomin' just does it for the love of it. Maybe Markipler has been able to quit their job and make YouTube their profession. I bet both of them wish they had aspects of the other's experiences. As much exposure as I got to being a small-beans niche internet 'celebrity' (like, on the level of local weatherman), I wouldn't wish fame on my worst enemy.


The question is what can we do about it? Are we stuck in the game of attention engineering forever?


>Are we stuck in the game of attention engineering forever?

More or less. As the content generated exceeds limits of human attention, it is our ability to pay attention that is scarce and much sought after. And I don't see that changing anytime soon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_economy


Joe Edelman talks about an alternative that I find compelling, if not slightly idealistic.

https://medium.com/what-to-build/how-to-design-social-system...

Basically, if you focus on how people want to approach their goals/passions, instead of the goal itself, you get a really good idea of why they're doing something. If you know why they're doing something, you can design systems allowing get better genuine engagement. So, you stop designing for attention (which can be exploitative and bad) and start designing for meaning (which is empowering and enjoyable).

Applied to this problem of the lonely blogger/streamer, I'm not sure what the solution is... I'll think about it and post a reply later to avoid a wall of text.


There's no silver bullet, but I think you just have to pick a scope of specialization. I'll see if I can analogize it to my day job: I work for an ecommerce platform with built-in search, CMS, and business insights. That doesn't sound like specialization compared to, say, Shopify, but often times the companies that fit well for us are ecommerce companies that find they're spending too much effort being an IT shop, instead of focusing on marketing, merchandising, and branding. You can absolutely have a go at building a homegrown ecommerce platform that suits your needs, but are you thinking about maintaining that effort in-house five years down the road?

My wife's a composer, and between the work the two of us have put in around her music, she's gotten pretty good exposure - a piece of hers went fairly viral in 2009, with peak exposure probably being a couple of segments on the Rachel Maddow Show (and a lot of law blogs leading up to that). I built a custom CMS for showcasing the music she writes, and we take advantage of social media... but we've also seen friends of hers, also composers, short-circuit that by hiring a PR firm, and suddenly they're being reviewed in the New York Times. Throwing that cash around is way more efficient than, say, marrying a web developer and dabbling in media creation alongside maintaining a career in music composition.

On a larger scale, Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails has been through a couple of cycles of this. Started out on an indie label (1988), found it wasn't serving them well, basically struck out on their own to earn enough credibility that a big label bought out the contracts (1991), which worked well until it didn't (2000), went almost entirely in-house (2008), which did okay but didn't scale, and post-2010, works with different people or agencies with different strengths, between selling merch, manufacturing & distribution, tour management, publicity, and so forth.


> The "if you build it, they will come" mantra from Field of Dreams is not applicable to a world where so much more content is being created than can possibly be consumed.

This resonates with me deeply. I've always lived by that sentiment.

It's also one of the reasons I love the points systems on Reddit and Hacker News, as it's the fairest way to objectively rank things people make, rather than by how much advertising and marketing they can afford.


It's kind of broken though as most people will only view the most upvoted comments because once again there's just so much content it's impossible to view it all, so you upvote what's already been upvoted. If you're there first you generally will get a lot of karma even if better comments come later.


This is why new comments get put on top, and if after a decent amount of views, they don't garner enough upvotes, they sink.


I wouldn't say growing organically is completely impossible. However, it's very, very unlikely unless either:

1. You are exceedingly lucky, and your work somehow attracts the attention of a person or organisation who's already famous/has a massive audience. This is how many indie games take off, with examples like Five Nights at Freddy's and what not becoming popular after being played by the likes of Markiplier and PewDiePie.

2. You somehow find a very specific niche that no one else on the planet has decided to compete in and that somehow has a decent sized audience interested in it. This is far less likely than it used to be in the early internet days, but it's still technically possible. One of my own forums is like this, since it's the only site dedicated to a certain video game franchise on the entire internet. Another example may be the likes of Boundary Break on YouTube.

But you're right that it's certainly not a practical way to grow your channel/site/business/whatever, especially as the only way someone can succeed that way is basically through sheer dumb luck.


This applies to every form of attention driven media that I'm aware of. From your start-up to your new Instagram, if you want attention -- you need to hustle.


> Growing organically isn't possible

I’m not sure I entirely agree with this.

I used to watch a few Youtubers like Ethoslab, Davidr64yt, Caliform, TheTolhe, etc. that seemed to grow completely organically. I’ve never seen them do any kind of “marketing” for their channel nor clickbait bullshit and they seem to have made it anyway. I think luck plays a big part in this, as well as your experience & charisma when doing your initial vidéos (if those suck, most viewers will just move on instead of giving you a chance to get better as time goes).


The corrollary of "you need to break the rules (such as view-botting) to get ahead" is that only people who are willing to view-bot "make it", which in turn really reduces the diversity of the content which ends up in the 'mainstream' (or main-stream for twitch, meaning front-page or top X when listing by game).


I dunno, Dunkey managed to do it.


Do you mind going into more detail about how Markipler marketed his youtube channel, besides publicity stunts, bots and click bait titles?


I don't know his marketing plan by any means, and I certainly can not claim he botted views, am I actually fairly certain his views are mostly authentic but that is just me going off of what I know of his moral judgement.

I do know he was extremely outgoing, almost weirdly so. I don't know the full extent of his 'hustle' but it wasn't just booting up amnesia every week.


that's unfortunate, it would have been extremely interesting to understand the timeline of actions/events that led to his success! O well


Thanks anyways.


There doesn't seem to be a youtuber by that name - unless he deleted his account or his videos.


Very interesting article. I have nothing substantial to add I just want to point out how "cyberpunky" the lives of some people have become. Twenty years ago this would have fit right into the storyline of a dystopian cyberpunk novel about poor streamers who spend all day in front of a computer screen trying to become the most popular "gamer in the online gaming community".


It's a story as old as the world: trying to get noticed while doing essentially the same thing as the successful kids, but lacking that essential element of luck or genetics, that last second on the chronometer, that "in" preexisting social circle.

It's the life of all those trying to enter into high risk, highly coveted careers that afford celebrity: authorship, sports, politics, music or film. The field might be changing but the game remains the same: humans mostly value what other humans happen to value, the other 99.99% comparable but unknown products are simply discarded.


The problem is trying to do the exact same thing as someone else. There has never been a business or method of making money in the history of capitalism that has survived by being an exact copy of another business or method. Even businesses with the same model as a bigger one, eg: small vs large car repair businesses, are able to function by having a different pricing point, location, etc. No one seems to understand that this applies to your job too. You're never going to be as successful as someone else by doing the exact same thing as them, because they got there first. Find your niche.


You could replace this title with "Programmers who spend years creating a SAAS app that no one uses" and it would be the same article.

All of these streamers who are bothered by not having an audience seem to have started for the wrong reasons. If all they care about are subscribers and viewers, then you're going to get really burnt out when that doesn't happen. Most of the popular streamers who I've come across do it because they enjoy it.

The same can be said for the people who create successful SAAS apps. It's a mix of enjoying what they do, combined with making something that no one else has yet. It's not to get rich quick.


It would be even simpler to replace it with "Bloggers who have no audience". There are countless blogs out there and more everyday and few if any ever gain traction.

However we must see it also from the small business perspective. How many start a business versus how many succeed? I remember when coffee shops, cupcake shops, and more, were the fad, and they vanish with regularity.


Yes for sure, right after I posted that reply I thought about blogging too. It definitely is the same story.

It took me almost a year of regular blogging before I got some type of readership on my site, and even today, 3 years later, I wouldn't consider it popular. My intent was never to get make money on the site. It was to create documentation for myself (and anyone else who wants to follow along).


I have a website that broke past the 'no-one cares' blogging stage.

The most important thing was being unique with quality.

While other people parrot the best credit card rewards, we did serious research into finding the best Calories Per Dollar, Protein Per Dollar, Vitamin A per dollar, etc...

But like the other person mentioned, I dont like shoving it in people's faces. I'm finally at the point that I get hundreds of googles a day and Ive meet people IRL that have been on my website.

The biggest deal is to provide value that no one else is. Most people are wayy to lazy. They would rather spend 4 hours on a blog post instead of 20.


Yeah, this is basically the norm for a lot of artists and creators in general. You start out with no audience, and unless you somehow become a viral hit quite quickly, it's likely you'll spend months or years building up your work to the point it attracts one.

You could write the same story about YouTubers, bloggers, artists, musicians, business owners and software engineers. Many try, most either fail or struggle in relative obscurity.


Yes, but creating a SAAS app from the ground up still gives gives a valuable skill set. Even if no one uses your app.


Yes, but creating YouTube videos from the ground up still gives you a valuable skill set. Even if no ones see your videos.

I learned to use After Effects. You can write your own expressions with JavaScript straight in the video editor.


My on again off again wander into the world of streaming/letsplaying/podcasting improved my ability to speak infinitely. Before I started I was the guy that spoke in mumbles or from behind a hand in front of my mouth


LegendOfTotalWar said something similar about how the tone of his voice changed by just talking a lot more while recording campaign after campaign.


Yeah I think it’s a combo of straight up talking a lot but also really listening to how you talk when editing together a video

I found myself really disliking how I spoke when editing the videos because it was a real pain to make my voice heard using all sorts of compression and volume normalisation

It was a decent insight into how others may be hearing me (or not, as the case was)


That could also be your microphone set up too.

My voice changed -drastically- in 3 years of creating online video courses, and while things like confidence levels have gone up (tone / etc.) there's also been technical improvements too (better mic / audio settings). My audio settings now are very basic. I just speak at a casual volume straight into the mic and do very little audio processing (just a noise gate and a tiny amount of compression).

A good gauge for improvement is how long you can go in a single cut. I still script a lot of my content just to gather my thoughts (I feel it makes for a better end result, even if I don't stick to the script 100%).


Deleted my comment and resposting it here, since it belongs to this topic.

Is the analogy made to failed startups already? Let me steal a couple of things mentioned in the article and just replace the topic of Twitch streamers with startups. I am now a self-proclaimed startup guru for the remainder of this comment by using this article as my source :D Reasons for starting a startup other than being financially successful or successful through social impact are: (1) it is a form of self-improvement, (2) you will connect with people and (3) you can express your political views. Note on expressing your political views: create an amazing product that helps your political views like starting a hospice clinic that is pro or against euthanasia.

Don't try to get fake likes for your marketing campaign, or fake emails for that matter. Related, buying into reciprocal deals is dangerous (e.g. you like someone and they'll like you).

Oh, and if you're able to be comfortable being lonely, not taking rejection personal and keep a work rhythm that you can stick with then you may have a chance of success. However, it all comes down to quite a bit of luck still, didn't I mention you need to be comfortable being lonely?

I wish there were more articles like this. Despite the fact it's not a post-mortem it shows how tough these things (Twitch streaming or startups) can be.

Where does the analogy break according to you? I am having a bit too much confirmation bias in my thinking.


I too have met kids who say they want to be a Youtuber or Twitch streamer when they grow up. It makes me sad.

I love watching Twitch, and watch 5-7 gamers regularly (almost every night). From what I can tell, most of them:

- Are in their mid-20's to early 30's.

- Live with their parents.

- Make just enough from Youtube/Twitch/Patreon/merch to fund their gaming rigs, buy new games, buy their own food, and maybe pay for an upgraded internet connection.

These are people who in some cases have hundreds of thousands of followers on Youtube and each Twitch stream attracts over two thousand viewers. It's not a good way to make a living.

I've asked several of them if they make a full-time living (via Twitch chat), and they've acknowledged the question, but didn't seem to want to really answer it.

A couple of them even make a joke out of it every time their sibling starts torrenting and it slows down their network connection.

If I ever have a kid, I'll support their dream of becoming one of these people. And I'll also tell them they're not living in my house past the age of 18. Figure out a way to make money while doing what you love.


I have (had) a twitch channel with a few thousand followers, maybe 50/100 viewers at any given time, doing speedruns. Relatively popular. But it was always just a hobby.

The economics simply don't work. Even if you ascend to the "middle tier". It works out to way less than (american) minimum wage, at best.

I now cringe a bit at the hours and hours i spent there, though i did make some good friends and had great conversations. But it really wasn't the best use of my Late 20s, in the longrun.

It should really only be seen as a hobby, for a few extra bucks on the side, at best, like mowing lawns or other odd jobs. If you think you can make a living, that is both dangerous and delusional thinking.


> and each Twitch stream attracts over two thousand viewers. It's not a good way to make a living.

To contrast with that, I know twitch streamers whose channel averages out at around 300 viewers a time, and who make a very comfortable living. Having a properly run channel that encourages donations, cash and bits, is a huge part of it.

I've seen streamers who pull an easy $200 a day in donations. Add in 500 or so subs, and it isn't too hard to break 6k a month. Not enough to live in the Bay Area, but a really nice salary in most of the country.


You also have to consider that the average length of a "day" for a popular Twitch streamer is 10-12 hours.

And that those streamers have to stream 6-7 days a week to maintain their audience.

Not worth it, honestly.


You also have to consider that many streamers are playing video games they love to play and casually chatting with friendly fellow nerds. Apples and oranges when compared to grinding out an 8 hour work day.

I can definitely see how it could/would eventually become more work than fun, but that doesn't seem to be the case for many streamers.


> You also have to consider that the average length of a "day" for a popular Twitch streamer is 10-12 hours.

carlsagan42 streams once a week for ~4 hours, and pulls in a couple thousand viewers at min, at 6pm on a Saturday.

His secret? He is super entertaining, hands down one of the funniest people and most entertaining people to watch on twitch. His YT videos of his streams then get a few hundred thousand more views on top of that. But yes he is an anomaly, in that he is really damn good at both game play and also entertaining.

Most streamers don't have that killer combo, so they have to work a lot harder.

Plenty of streamers are 9am-5pm, 8am-4pm, or 11am-7pm. Heck I know successful who are 8pm-midnight.

I'd argue that it really depends on the stream and the community. Streamers that build a super strong community can get away with shorter streamers and smaller viewer bases. They won't be pulling in millions, but they can get a steady income stream from it.

My overall point is that streaming is a valid career for people who have the right skills. The barrier to getting started is low, but the barrier to doing to an open mic stand-up is also low. The difference is there aren't a bunch of news articles about people flocking to open-mic nights, although I suspect on any given night there are a thousand or so people doing open mic in the US alone! But there is also a cultural realization that most people shouldn't quit their job, drop out of school, and start practicing their comedy routine 8 hours a day.


You can't really compare extreme outliers against the norm. Very few Twitch streamers can have that kind of community you're talking about. I would wager low double digits.


> I would wager low double digits.

I know of more than half a dozen who are just Super Mario Maker streamers.

I know, my pure happenstance, of two cooking streamers who have built communities.

I think low double digits is a low ball estimate. There are more successful retro gaming streamers than that, I have no idea what the contemporary game twitch scene is like.

No one ever talks about 300 viewer streamers, they make for lousy news stories. Drama with super successful streamers, and articles like this one that talk about failure at the bottom.

Someone working 9-5, 40 hours a week, pulling in 40-50k a year isn't a news story.


Few (if any) of those streamers are making a living wage off of just their few hours/week streaming.

It may be part of their income but not all of their income.

If you run the numbers on what's needed to make ~$1500/wk off of 4 hours/week of streaming, it doesn't paint the picture that you are.


Carl is so good. I made the overlay for a charity stream last year. The mario maker guys are a good bunch.


Yeah I will tell people I made 3000 dollars on cookbook sales.

Sounds great? Well if it takes 30 hours a week for 3 years, it really isnt great. (And I've probably spent 15,000 USD on interns and editors in 3 years)

Lucky I'm an engineer and my website is fun and I appreciate the traffic/comments more than anything.


^ You should plug your books here :)


Trying to win the lottery is not a good life goal.


Is aspiring to being a top Twitch streamer any different than those aspiring to be a top musician, artist or actor?

You'd have to be fantastic at your particular game or whatever they stream on Twitch (I know absolutely nothing about this platform) and great at self promotion. Not unlike wanting to be a rock star or movie star.

I fail to see how it's any more like a lottery win than being in other forms of media, other than it's a very new platform (in the grand scheme of things).

It wouldn't be for me but I'm sure plenty of people are making plenty of money and Twitch has its own Justin Bieber/Miley Cyrus (or whoever is the pop star of choice today. Yeah, I'm getting old).


It's a little different to me.

At least for music, there are some career fallback options if you really want to pursue that path, but lack the charisma / marketing skills to be a pop lead. Orchestras / Broadway, session musicians, game and film composition, studio work (production / engineer / composer), etc. A lot of these paths actually value technical competence way more than the self promotion necessary for pop music stardom. It's an extremely competitive field, of course, but it's possible to do very well as a musician without necessarily being a pop star. I'm not sure if the equivalent exists for Twitch streamers.


I'd argue it is no more a lottery than aiming to be a stand up comedian or any other form of professional entertainer.

It is a lot of networking to help make raids happen early on, a lot of learning to adapt to what the audience wants (which is hard with only a text interface to the audience!), a lot of hard work, and a good amount of natural talent.


You can live like a king on $72,000 a year in the midwest, and the bonus is that the northern part gets so cold in the winter that there's not much else to do but work and stream!


Don't forget to pay your taxes (about double what you would pay as a regular employee; your employer pays a portion of that behind the scenes) out of that, plus any health insurance you want to pick up. That $72,000 yearly will vanish pretty quickly.


Made $73,500 last year as a freelance software consultant last year. Sole breadwinner in my house - my wife doesn't work.

Paid my estimated federal and state income taxes through the year, paid federal and state taxes at the end of the year, paid for a decent tier in the healthcare exchange, put away as much for retirement as was prudent, and still had more than enough money to take two months of the year off and pay for a three bedroom, two bathroom house in the suburbs (mortgage, utilities, and insurance all paid).

It's not impossible here, but it is impossible in the Bay Area.


This isn’t true at all. The only extra tax you pay as a contractor is the other 7.65% of the FICA, or $5500 here. You also get a bunch of new deductions you can take, including that $5500 itself.


It's the same with sports, music, art, writing and lots of other hobbies-that-can-be-careers. Most people won't ever make a living, but plenty of people want to give it a shot. If it works, awesome, you get to play games or make art for a living!

And what better time do make a go at it than in your 20's?


I was working from home for about 1.5 years. My daily contact was a morning phone call with the others on the team. Having a twitch stream open for 8+ hours in the background works really well for me as its more like having a radio on then a TV. Its not that you are sitting there watching every thing that the streamer is doing. You are more listening and glancing at it once in a while.

A second aspect that i really enjoy in relation to twitch streams is the chat community and the interaction you can have live with the streamer. Its basically a IRC chat channel that the streamer is the owner of. So even when the stream is offline, you can hang around chatting with friends that you make online. It really remind me of my old mIRC days. Its all about finding a community that you enjoy, not all stream chats are the same. Some can be quite toxic but most streamers have Mods that ban people quickly for hate speech etc.

There are also people that are coding on twitch these days, and i really enjoy having one of those streams open while coding myself. Whenever i get stuck on something, or am thinking about an issue / design I like watching what the streamer is coding for a few min. It tends to help me work out the problems quicker and the designs are normally better thought out.


Per Twitch's stream analytics, on one of my data science programming streams on Twitch the majority of my viewers came from the Explore page, under the relatively-less-popular Programming category.

I wonder if there's a bit of game theory in play where it's impossible to be discovered when playing a megapopular game like Overwatch/Fortnite, and it's more advantageous to play relatively more obscure games. It wouldn't be the first time working the long-tail has been effective.


> I wonder if there's a bit of game theory in play where it's impossible to be discovered when playing a megapopular game like Overwatch/Fortnite, and it's more advantageous to play relatively more obscure games.

I do not think most twitch streamers are trying to be professionals. I think most streamers are just trying to add more fun into their game time. In game theory everyone's main objective is the same, in this case measured in either revenue or viewers. In the twitch world most streamers are trying to maximize fun instead of viewers or revenue.

(Disclosure: I stream relatively obscure games, and know many other streamers in both megapopular and obscure games.)


Same here, actually.

It turns out that if you do the basics, and make content that is not terrible, then you can be the "#1 live stream programmer in the world", pretty easily.

But it turns out that getting to the #1 spot at the top of the twitch programming category only nets you about 10-20 concurrent viewers.

At that point the goal should be to grow the category as a whole, I guess.


Reading this made me curious. I'll probably check out the programming category tonight if I have time. How is the quality of those programming streams? What goes on in them? Do the streamers answer questions about techniques, etc? Is it just shoptalk/circlejerking?

I'm usually a self-starter on learning things, but I can lose interest quickly if I don't get some sort of feedback or have someone to ask questions. MOOCs, forums, etc are a waste of time for me in most cases; too slow and impersonal. And now that I think about it Twitch/streaming would probably be a better suited learning medium for me.


The quality is poor. It's mostly gamer streamers trying out something different. They're usually going through a udacity course or hacking a crud web application.

There is lot of blindly looking at the screen, reading tutorials or getting frustrated with compilation errors.

They do not like to be helped.


I think this is an unfair characterization, there are some REALLY good programmers, some new programmers, and people at all stages of their programming journey.

A lot are doing game programming, I'm less interested in this, but some are very interesting. For instance...

https://www.twitch.tv/jessicamak

Really interesting what she does, and an insane attention to detail.

A HNer I watch when he codes... he does an interesting mix of stuff and has 30+ years of experience

https://www.twitch.tv/nybblesio

there's people coding games with robotic bananas

https://www.twitch.tv/uselessduckcompany/videos/all

.NET devs

https://www.twitch.tv/csharpfritz

who also has coding streams with Microsoft Devs

and numerous others doing embedded development, web development, backend dev, security, crypto, Rust, Lisp, C++, F#, Vimers, IDEers, VSCoders, Emacers.... all sorts.

who


My comment was based on random visits to /programming and checking out what people were doing.

I didn't know of the streamers you mentioned, but I'd be sure to check them out.

Looking forward to being wrong on this.


I was basically introduced to Twitch by Handmade Hero, and Casey (the host) seems to have brought a bunch of his contemporaries in as well.

Handmade Hero:

Complete game from scratch (nothing but platform libraries). Has spawned a number of small projects, like 4coder (https://4coder.itch.io/4coder) and Milton (https://github.com/serge-rgb/milton) and a lot more: http://handmade.network/

https://handmadehero.org/

Bitwise:

Complete hardware/software stack for a RISC-V computer from scratch (compiler, assembler, ...)

https://github.com/pervognsen/bitwise

Sean Barrett:

He's the author of the excellent stb header-only libraries, does the occasional live coding video.

https://www.twitch.tv/nothings2 https://www.youtube.com/user/silverspaceship/videos

Jonathan Blow:

He's the game developer and designer behind Braid and The Witness. He's designing a programming language (JAI), works on that and shows off features, as well as doing game development, on his channel. (And occasionally playing games.)

https://www.twitch.tv/naysayer88 with no schedule VODs: https://www.youtube.com/user/jblow888/videos

Martin "quill18" Glaude:

He's primarily a game streamer, but also a consistent Ludum Dare participant, with some high placement in many of them. He has a series of programming videos.

https://www.twitch.tv/quill18 Vods: https://www.youtube.com/user/quill18creates/videos

They have different approaches, but mostly ignore the chat during the stream, but often the chat has very bright folks who can help out.


Who likes being helped when nobody asked?


Yep. I get almost no one finding me when I play hearthstone, but I always have ~10 viewers when I stream speedrun attempts of popular snes games. It really is a matter of finding your niche when you start out.


At least for streamers who are already somewhat established, the metagame is actually to move to whichever game is most popular with viewers.


That's also true. I wonder what the establishment inflection point is?


Probably getting into the top two rows with your own fanbase so you can attract organic traffic just clicking $game.


It's definitely true for some people I know because it gets you above the fold for the game/category.

Most people watch above the fold in browse, and then above the fold for those games, so the streamers get all or nothing depending on the fold. So when you start out, that's nothing.

But for the minority of people who care about specific games/categories that usually aren't above the fold on browse (which hn is probably biased towards), this gets you quite consistent growth and engagement, especially if you're competant at the game or interacting.


an interesting side effect of something like that is the hop-ons during the games done quick streams -- often times you'll see streamers switch games to whatever's being played on stream in the hopes someone will... misclick, or get bored and check out the other streams in the game or something. you also see it when a large streamer is playing a relatively unknown game (sodapoppin used to have a semi-weekly stream where he played games subscribers recommended, usually bargain bin or free to play shovelware)


Normally, when I do play videogames, it's a private sort of thing between myself and my game system.

I just recently ran across some twitch channels via youtube because I was looking for some help with some Dark Souls III content.

It's like a whole different universe with people who live and breath these games every waking moment. I found it very interesting to see that it's a whole way of life with this many people. Now I'm tempted to watch some of these twitch broadcasters even though I'm not interested in the games that they're playing.


Come watch some DS3 speedruns and travel even further down the rabbit hole of people who know everything about the game to an absolutely obsessive degree and are insanely good at playing it. It's not for everyone mind you, but I find it hugely entertaining if you take the time to appreciate it.


I am a regular of a low viewer count stream, choaslegionkaeru, who is pretty good and talkative. He rarely gets past 10 streamers, and his style isn't for everyone and I don't think he'll ever be a massive success, but I enjoy watching and interacting with him.

I've tuned into other low viewer streams, and a lot of them are just bad. The gameplay is bad, and the streamer isn't entertaining. A successful streamer needs one or the other, either be one of the top in the world for the game you are playing, or be super entertaining to listen to. For the later, the game itself is more of a set piece around a comedy bit.


This sounds like the twitter Financial Independence blogging community.

People with 0 new advice, rehashing the same old credit card rewards and budgeting advice.

Its so terrible that there are people claiming 'frugal ways to eat' and claim 50$/week per person for food is frugal. A single google search would tell you that under 30$/week is a good goal.

This drives me crazy because we are eating for 20$/week and actually put hundreds of hours into studying this.

In the end, my website gets hundreds of viewers a day, their blogs arent ranked on alexa.


This is tangential, but what's a good starting point for "frugal ways to eat"? I'm not even remotely interested in getting down to $30/week, but my current budget is "not to exceed" $30/day, and I probably average around $20/day, and I generally cook at least one meal per day at home.

Even in a week where I only at food cooked at home I can't imagine getting under $70/week. I'm curious what I would have to give up to get to $50, much less $30.


Most food has 200-600 calories per pound, so you need 4-6 pounds of food per day. (This lines up with Google search.) Call it 35 pounds per week. Therefore, you need to spend an average of $1.50/lb to hit $50/week. Bananas and canned tomatoes or beans are well under $1. Pasta and bread are $1. You definitely don't have to give up all TV dinners or meat, you can eat pretty normal.


That does give me some food for thought. To take an example I cook regularly, the absolute cheapest tomatoes are a bit under $1.50/lb, but San Marzano tomatoes are more like $3/lb, and worth every penny. Then, if you're making a basic pasta marinara, add garlic, thyme, oregano, maybe some pepper flakes, olive oil... No one thing is expensive, but it adds up. Then, if you really want to kick it up a notch in the cost department, add some fresh thyme and basil. Now you're at something like $4-5/lb for something that is nutritionally very similar to the $1.50/lb version, but damn is it ever going to taste better.

I guess to some extent I'm asking to have my cake and eat it too. It just seems like you have to give up most meat and a lot of flavor to hit $50/week or lower.


You can grow basil and thyme! We have some and we live in an apartment with east-west windows and it's still plenty of herb.



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