It’s no surprise that online streaming has risen in popularity over the past decade or so. It is simply the best way to go when it comes to getting the content you want wherever and whenever you want it. What is surprising is the type of streaming that has become popular. While TV shows and movies are still the most popular and highest in demand, video game streaming has increased greatly. With the gaming community growing more and more each year, there’s been a greater desire for tools and services to meet the needs of gamers, especially when it comes to sharing and interacting with other gamers. When it comes to streaming, there is no better tool available than Twitch.
Twitch is a video game streaming service that was created in 2011. It was a spinoff from Justin.tv, a site that live streamed the life of one of its co-founders, Justin Kan. Justin.tv became popular for providing people a platform to live stream on the internet. Justin.tv expanded to cover a lot of different subjects; however, as time went on, video game streaming grew particularly fast and split off to form its own website. Thus, Twitch was born. The concept behind it was simple: provide a video streaming platform specifically catered to the video game community.
Live streaming itself provides two unique features different from recorded videos. First, it allows people to share what they are doing live rather than later. For some, live streaming is a much more enjoyable experience simply because it is happening right now. This leads to the second unique feature of live streaming: the opportunity to interact with the streamer and the community following that streamer. Unlike a recorded video, live streaming allows users to interact live using instant messaging which can be seen by both the streamer and others watching the stream. This serves to enhance the watching experience and provide people with a chance to participate in the action and discussion.
For all the good things live streaming offers, it also has shortcomings. One of the downsides to live streaming is that streamers are not on at all times. Even when they are on, their schedules do not coincide perfectly with those interested in following them. Thus, it’s difficult for streamers to capture a larger audience unlike YouTubers. In addition, streaming has a lot of downtime where either the streamer has to wait to play a new game or wait for the action to pick up. Again, the keyword here is LIVE. Everything that happens unfolds in real time. There’s no skipping ahead in the action or backing up. This can be very annoying and bothersome to viewers. Despite all this, live streaming is still a unique and enjoyable experience.
One of the beauties of Twitch lies in its roots on the internet. Like many websites, Twitch offers its services for free. You don’t even have to have an account to browse the myriad of streaming channels, but you do need one in order to talk in chat rooms. By making the services free, virtually anyone has the opportunity to stream given they have the equipment and know-how to do it. Even so, this doesn’t mean everyone should stream.
To be honest, I’m not all that impressed with most of the streamers on Twitch. Except for the most popular and experienced streamers, most everyone else has very small followings. Just like YouTube, it is very difficult to attract a large following and retain it. Most of this depends on being good at streaming, commentating, and interacting with your followers. Most the streamers I come across seem like decent enough people. Yet, being a streamer is more than just being funny or good at video games. It takes a combination of personality, skill, and entertainment that makes a streamer good.
Another thing I like about Twitch is that game companies use it 1) as a way to connect with the gaming community directly and 2) as a way to create hype for their games, including giving out beta keys. In my opinion, the more gaming companies can do to interact with the gaming community, the better. The connection between the two shouldn’t be so business-oriented all the time especially as time goes on. Sure, the companies are in it to make money, but many of them already have enough money. There’s something to be said for having a close and personal connection with your gaming community. It’s one thing to listen, it’s a whole other thing to respond and react. Gamers like this, and the more gaming companies can do it the better.
Twitch is a great resource for the gaming community. Not only does it give people a way to share their experiences with other gamers, but also a chance to interact with those who share a similar interest. It’s important for gamers to have a means of social interaction and entertainment that is tailored to their interest in gaming. Just like there’s television stations for sports, movies, and news, so too much gamers have a venue for watching and enjoying their favorite games and gamers.
If you haven’t checked out Twitch yourself yet, now’s a great time to do it. There are streamers and communities connected to every game you can think of. Heck, there are even streams on there for things you never considered checking out that you may come across and like. The point is Twitch, on top of providing streaming for things you already know, is also an excellent way to expose yourself to new games and streamers. It’s not always easy for people to get out of their comfort zone and find something new. With Twitch, it’ll do the work for you. All you need is a willing attitude to check out new things and spend a minute or two watching before you move on. After all, with as much time as gamers have, isn’t a minute or two the least you can spare to check out something you may end up enjoying a lot.