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Streaming Student

Student Life

What is Twitch anyway?

If you’ve browsed the internet long enough (or it doesn’t have to be that long at all these days, I suppose), you might have stumbled on a website called Twitch.tv. You might also know it as Justin.tv, which was founded in 2007 by four people (one of whom was of course called Justin). It was a website that allowed individuals to livestream to the world, with each account called a ‘channel’ (similar to YouTube). Originally though, it only had one channel- Justin’s. He would livestream his own life, essentially 24/7 using a webcam attached to his baseball cap and connected to a laptop-backpack system, gaining some notoriety in the media. Later that year, Justin stopped broadcasting and relaunched the site for other people to sign up and use. In the summer of 2007, there were around 60 channels producing content. Fast forward to spring 2008 and Justin.tv reported 30,000 channels had signed up. Categories were added, such as people and lifecasting, sports, gaming and so forth, to facilitate the fast-growing expansion of the platform. In 2011, the gaming category was moved to a separate site, Twitch.tv, and then it wasn’t long until, in 2014, both Justin.tv and Twitch.tv’s parent company was rebranded as Twitch Interactive, and merged into what we now know today as Twitch, which, as of 2018, has over 2.2 million active broadcasters and around 15 million daily active users. It’s no doubt Twitch has evolved into a massive site.

 

The iconic purple Twitch logo. © Twitch Interactive, Inc

My history with Twitch

I created my account on the 8th September 2013. I don’t remember what I was trying to stream, or if I was successful (probably not, my internet is generally too terrible for streaming), and to be honest, I wasn’t very active on Twitch at all. I didn’t know what or who to follow and I didn’t really have any connections to anything there. I would occasionally hop on to check out a game I was thinking of getting, to see what the game play was like, but other than that I didn’t log in very much. That all changed two years later, in September 2015, when I received a request for a logo from a small streamer who was just starting out. After completing the job, I of course ‘followed’ him (similar to subscribing to someone on YouTube), and moved on for a while. However, every time I logged in after that, I would sometimes see his name on my sidebar if he was streaming. I checked in every couple months to see how he was doing, and it was nice to see his stream had grown since each time I saw him last. In November 2016, I eventually joined the community… permanently. Honestly, it’s refreshing to be a part of an online community (no, Facebook doesn’t count), and through the stream, I’ve met so many awesome people and other streams, who I all consider my internet family. We’re all able to support each other, laugh at the streamer’s misfortunes when he dies for the billionth time, enjoy horror games together- and the best thing is, if you don’t feel like it, you don’t have to budge from your bed.

Streaming as a student

Something else changed in recent years too. I started streaming myself! (albeit sporadically). This was in part due to the fact that I had access to much better internet speeds when I started attending uni and I was able to actually stream without it coming out in potato quality. This was great and everything… except now I faced a new problem. Hardware limitations. My poor laptop was getting on a bit at the time (I’m still using it actually) and since streaming is a very CPU intensive task, I was able to stream, but it was suffering from intermittent lag. Not very enjoyable for anyone wanting to watch. I put streaming on the backburner for a while... until I came to Northumbria. Living on directly on campus, 24/7 computer labs and amazing internet was all a recipe for igniting my desire to stream again.

So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing the last few months I’ve been here. At the end of a stressful day of uni, I can go to one of the labs and just stream 😊. Recently, I haven’t really streamed any games as it were, but that’s the great thing about Twitch. You don’t just have to stream video games. You can broadcast anything from your own life (categorised under IRL, internet slang for ‘In Real Life’), to cooking (there are more than a few professionally setup cooking streamers, think multiple kitchen cams, etc), to talk shows and creative stuff, for all your artistic needs. What do I stream? Usually under the creative category- mostly designing stuff and coding. It’s a great way to practice my programming and do work that I would otherwise be doing, but essentially to a live audience who I can interact with in real time. Talking through my thoughts out loud while I’m working is also very useful. I get to share my ideas and processes to other like-minded people, or those who are interested in things I’m doing. Another cool benefit is that all streams are saved as past broadcasts, which you can export to YouTube. Creating a stream archive on my work has been incredibly helpful in reviewing my progress later and makes a good reference point if I ever forget how I did something.

I’m also happy to say that one or two months ago, I received an invitation to join the Twitch affiliate program, which means I’m officially able to start earning money from my streams! This is super neat, but I’m not really interested (or fully capable yet) in making money from Twitch. I accepted anyway, just for some other perks, but right now I’m happy just streaming for the fun of it, and sharing my work live to the world. In July this year, I’ll also be attending Twitch London (in London obviously) and meeting up with other fellow streamers and viewers! It’s safe to say I’m super excited :D

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