connects viewers through various streams

December 10, 2018 — by Justin Guo and Michael Wong

Twitch's streaming service offers a break from studying for students and a possible outlet for hobbyists.

A notification pops up. A stream has just started, and clicking it leads to a live feed. At the sides of the screen, trimmed with perhaps a touch of the streamer’s personality, brief pop-ups indicate the usernames of the newest follower and subscriber.

Occasionally a notification bell accompanying a donation may come through the chat, sometimes even celebrated with a funny text-to-speech sound clip. In the middle is the gameplay, any one of thousands of games depending on the streamer’s liking, and near the bottom, a webcam reveals who is playing the game.

This is what a typical stream looks like on the popular streaming website Often shortened to just Twitch, it is a live-streaming platform where people view anything from video games to live vlogs.

Developed in 2005 as by then-Yale students Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, Twitch has seen tremendous growth and gathered millions of users from around the globe. In 2011, it was acquired by Amazon for $970 million.

Over the years, Twitch has become home for professional gamers, streamers and video game enthusiasts; It is used widely in the school’s gaming community among other related platforms such as Discord or Steam.

Its 15 million daily active users have been a key element in the growth of eSports. Major eSport tournaments such as League of Legends’ World Championships, Dota 2’s The International and Counterstrike: Global Offensive’s Major Championships have been hosted on the site with millions of viewers.

Even traditional sports have turned to Twitch. NBA’s G-League made a deal last year to stream up to six minor league games per week. NFL also struck a deal, streaming Thursday night games with interactive extensions to predict game scores and stats against other viewers.

As a user-focused service, Twitch has placed a lot of emphasis on enhancing the interactiveness of its viewer experience. A stream chat allows viewers to communicate live with each other and the streamer, whether it be discussing the stream and the streamer’s life, or simply spamming blocks of random text.

Twitch is perhaps most famous for its popular emotes — small icons depicting facial expressions that are extensively used in stream chats to express a wide range of emotions. For example, one of Twitch’s trademark emotes, monkaS, is a picture of a frog nervously sweating with its eyes dilated, oftentimes used during intense or stressful gameplay moments.

With its growth and increasing popularity, Twitch has become a lucrative career option for those who are able to find audiences.

Streamers make money through ad revenue, donations, subscriptions and sponsorships. Anyone can follow a stream, and the app gives them a notification when the stream goes live. In addition, viewers can pay $5 to subscribe to a channel. The perks of subscribing include custom emotes and access to talk in subscriber exclusive chats. Streamers receive about half the revenue from a subscription, the other half going to Twitch.

Additionally, Twitch provides a platform for hobbyists and game enthusiasts who want to share their passion. Many Falcons are familiar with Twitch and mostly use it as viewers, but some have even streamed in the past.

Sophomore Daniel Izrailevsky has streamed on and off for the past two years as a hobby, mainly playing League of Legends and Yu-Gi-Oh! for around 50 viewers at time.

“It was always a hobby,” Izrailevsky said. “The overall experience was very enjoyable. Interacting with new people and the overall relaxed environment was a nice way to unwind and enjoy the games I played more.”

For his part, junior Ryan Le is an avid viewer who often watches up to three hours a day between Hearthstone and League of Legends. On weekends, Le follows the League and Overwatch seasons.

“Twitch is super interactive because often broadcasters directly interact with the viewer,” Le said. “Additionally, it’s not like you are simply watching someone play games, but you are also part of a community that has special inside jokes.”

Twitch is an important medium for people to learn about games, interact with other passionate viewers and take a break from homework or studying.

From its early days as a general-interest streaming service, Twitch has evolved into the largest video game streaming platform in the world. If its explosive growth is any indication, it will continue to bring viewers closer together through its streams as it spawns iconic moments and memes in gaming history.

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