Watching streams is more popular and interactive than ever
Video games have become a popular pastime since their invention decades ago. However, new services like Twitch, YouTube Live, and other sites have added an interactive component by also showing skilled players in the corner of their screen on a livestream while viewers watch and cheer them on in chat.
The live streamers will talk about the game, tell jokes or even ask the chat for advice. And it’s not just video games. Streamers will also do music, DIY and lifestyle content, and more.
While live streaming has gained popularity over the past decade, sites like Twitch and YouTube’s live content have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. With an average of more than 2.5 million viewers so far in December, Twitch has been the leading site for live streaming.
While many students enjoy viewing edited video content, some enjoy the experience of viewing content live because they are not just passive viewers. They can see the action in the moment.
“I think it’s the aspect of it being live and being able to interact with the content creator, see their reaction to the chat and even give them ideas is really cool,” junior Sharyq Siddiqi said.
Sharyq watches digital music, science and technology streams. In the live streams he watches, digital musicians challenge themselves to create a song in a certain genre in a limited time. He also enjoys watching creators edit and test code for games they create.
Tech Nix, a junior, watches live streams of musicians who would otherwise play their music in person. Tech already listened to some artists before the pandemic meant concerts were canceled. Now that artists cannot do live shows, some are doing live streams.
“So I started watching to get that feel of live music,” Tech said.
Live streaming can also serve as a relief between schoolwork and remote learning.
“For me it’s more of an extended video that I can watch while working on homework or creative projects,” sophomore Lorelei Deaken said.
Lorelei watches live video game playthroughs on YouTube from creators who have edited content she has seen in the past.
There is also an option for viewers to interact with the creators and talk to them in live chat. Viewers can make comments or suggestions and talk about the live stream with one another.
“The best part is that you’re there when it’s happening,” junior Yannik Leuz said. “There’s no editing, so you can see the whole story and also the content creators are talking about something interesting and interacting with the viewer.”
Eventually, the chat will bubble down and the streamer will turn off their camera, but there is always more to watch — and all of it is live.
Students stream for personal ambition, enjoyment
Gaming content is one of the largest genres of created media this year. YouTube has called 2020 “YouTube Gaming‘s biggest year” with more than 100 billion hours of gaming content watched on YouTube this year and more than 40 million gaming channels on the platform.
Streaming content is also incredibly successful. The most popular live streaming service, Twitch, has approximately 15 million users every day.
The popularity and accessibility of content creation means anyone can create a channel and record videos or live stream to interact with viewers in real time. This accessibility has allowed young people, including several Lab students, to develop and share their own gaming content as a way to have fun, relax and spend time with friends.
Gaming content creation is enjoyable as a process beyond just the fun of playing games. Junior Jesse Gell made his first YouTube video on his Pokémon gameplay channel eight months ago. Since then, he has released more than 100 videos, gaining over 100 subscribers.
“I get to make content out of playing a game I love,” Jesse said. “Editing and the other technical stuff I put into my videos is relaxing, and at the end, I have a video that I’m proud of.”
Creating videos and streaming can also be social activities. Sophomores Matt Petres and Behram Shah have made Twitch channels, through which they often stream games while playing and talking with friends. Friends of these creators can also watch and interact with their channels through live stream chats or video comments.
“My Lab friends are really supportive about it,” Jesse said. “They’re not as interested in Pokémon as I am, but they watch my videos and leave nice comments and stuff.”
Jesse has also used his platform to make new friends interested in Pokémon online. Through participating in the online community, he has met other Pokémon-based content creators, as well as viewers who share Jesse’s interests.
“My friends at Lab aren’t really into Pokémon, so I’ve met people online that I can play with,” he said. “I play them in my videos and if they make vids, I appear on their channels sometimes.”
While Jesse’s channel is focused on Pokémon content, other Lab creators play many different games. Matt has streamed “Minecraft,” “Call of Duty” and various other games that he enjoys. Matt said that the fun of streaming isn’t just about what game he’s playing, but about the excitement of being able to interact with viewers.
“I started streaming like two years ago when ‘Fortnite’ was really popular. I just saw other people streaming and it looked fun,” Behram said. “I streamed a lot of ‘Fortnite’ back then, but more recently I streamed a game called ‘Rocket League’ and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone.’”
Gaming content creation comes in many different forms and is a great source of joy for some students. By engaging with an audience, creators can have even more fun playing games they love and being with friends. After watching gaming content for years, students have the possibility to become a part of the communities they enjoy.
“After I made my channel I’ve been able to meet some bigger creators, like people I watched when I was younger,” Jesse said. “That’s been the coolest part for me.”