Twitch provides community-building tools

“Chat”: for some, this word may mean a casual tête-à-tête; for those spending their free time on the popular online live streaming platform, Twitch, this word describes the collective community who interact in the chat feature, which allows them to send messages to other viewers and the streamer. Every day, millions of individuals gather together in these virtual communities, eager to unite through their interests and hobbies.

Sophomore Rachel Kunkel is one such content creator at South. Kunkel’s inspiration to start live streaming on Twitch came while watching other content creators, and she shared about the games that she typically enjoys streaming.

“I personally like to stream Minecraft because it’s a game I grew up on,”  Kunkel said. “It also holds so much creative potential to be used in different ways. Currently on Twitch, Minecraft is a very oversaturated game, meaning that there are a lot of people playing it. As such, finding original content is a fun challenge that I take on.”

Kunkel described a typical stream on her Twitch channel, which currently has over 5,000 followers.

“For me, my streams usually start off with a ‘starting soon’ scene where I play some background music,” Kunkel explained. “After the notification that I’m live goes out and people start coming into the chat, I’ll do a little bit of time where I catch up with everyone [in the chat] and then eventually transition into whatever game I’m playing.”

On the other side of the screen are individuals like sophomore Angelo Karadimas, who prefer tuning into live streams and connecting with others through their love of video games through the chat. For Karadimas, live streams have become a source of community, where the audience engages with content creators in positive, supportive ways.

“From my experience, I would say that most of the people are really supportive and encouraging and kind, so that’d be a way to make the streamer’s day,” Karadimas said. “I’ve seen that happen a lot, where [they become] really happy from what people are saying in the chat and so I would say there’s a positive [relationship].”

Karadimas particularly appreciates this audience-content creator relationship and expressed his appreciation for streamers who emphasize this interaction. In fact, his favorite Twitch streamer allows his audience members to play alongside him by entering in a code to join in on his game.

“My favorite streamer is probably a content creator named Ash,” Karadimas said. “He streams a mobile device video game known as Brawl Stars, developed by the Finnish company Supercell. I find this streamer very appealing because he always plays with his viewers rather than simply playing by himself, and this allows all viewers to feel like they are an active part of the live stream.”

Likewise, Kunkel shared her appreciation for the sense of community she has crafted around her streams.

“We’re a big community,” Kunkel said. “We’re big on knowing each other and being comfortable around each other. It’s a warm welcoming community that I have.”