We live in the age of streaming, where Twitch now has a place in our entertainment Zeitgeist alongside Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Like YouTube and unlike traditional forms of entertainment, this is platform completely open to newcomers. Without the barriers of nepotism or millions of dollars, success on Twitch is just about finding an audience. For good or bad, this has driven Twitch to $2.6 billion in revenue in 2021 as per Business of Apps, and it’s only getting bigger.
As such a valued part of the new era of entertainment, a lot of us watch Twitch, and a lot of people dream of being Twitch stars. While we'd never want to discourage someone's true dreams, it's important to realize that there's a lot more to Twitch streaming than what you see, and while it can be incredibly rewarding, it's not just fun and games.
You Only See the Surface
When you see somebody stream for the day, what you see is their on-screen persona and set up for the 3-8 hours they're active. This can paint a great picture, but it's only a fraction of what goes into the complete process. Behind the scenes, they had to get up, prepare their environment and equipment, and make themselves presentable. First-time setup for basic equipment can cost thousands as covered by Artlist, while daily maintenance can take more than an hour before showtime. Don’t assume this is a case of just plopping down and clicking stream, there’s a lot more to it than that.
"Ready for streaming: smiling in front of" (CC BY 2.0) by verchmarco
Streaming is Hard Work
There’s a popular saying that ‘if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’. As nice as this sounds, it's far from reality. A more accurate saying could be 'if you turn your hobby into your day job, you'll end up getting tired of both'. Too often we see streaming as just chilling out and playing games, but this isn’t really how it works.
When you play games or engage in other fun hobbies at home, you do so when you want to, for as long as you want. When you stream, you have to keep to a strict schedule and keep going for longer than you otherwise would. It's a recipe for burnout, which can be difficult to overcome.
The Audience isn’t Always on Your Side
As any Twitch news website will tell you, the people who watch your streams won't always be fans or fun people. Even with strong moderation teams and tools, there are going to be negative forces at work that will always exist when people can hide behind computer screens. This is a problem all streamers need to understand and come to terms with as if you get popular, such interactions are a matter of when and not if.
"Home-Microphon with smart touch panel, v" (CC BY 2.0) by verchmarco
While we might have made the entire idea of streaming seem like doom and gloom, what we're trying to do is to help our readers see the realities of streaming before they consider jumping in. Be prepared for what Twitch and other systems involve, and you'll be infinitely better suited for accepting and adapting to the challenges it presents. If it's your passion, then facing these challenges will be something you can accept, along your way to creating something you can be proud of.
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