Get out your tinfoil hats and sharpen your pitch forks, they’re watching.
For most of us, modern privacy is nothing but an unfeasible luxury that is only available to the likes of secret agents. It means cutting internet, disconnecting from basically everything and basically living in a cabin in the woods (what’s left of them anyways).
On the other end of the spectrum are those who actually WANT to invite random people in to their lives. Meet the Twitch Streamer.
So, what is twitch?
As I don’t really use the site, I’m not overly the best person to give you an explanation of what Twitch exactly is. But, take a look at this stream from *ahem* “Prod1gyX” and you’ll get the jist.
Twitch is essentially a streaming service for creators to produce content (usually them playing games) in real time for viewers. They’re an odd bunch, but professional Twitch streamers can make a very comfortable living off the platform. Streamers can entertain watchers however they so please and, in turn, viewers can make donations to their favourite hosts. These donations are usually publicly shown in real-time on the stream and can have a profound effect on the receivers.
But why do people even want to watch let alone financially support twitch streamers?
A recent study published by Elsevier, suggested that there were eight motivators for live-stream engagement. However, for this article we will only focus on the big dog: engagement for social interaction.
In his 2014 article, William A. Hamilton discussed the notion that live-streams acted as “third places” for communities to interact and grow. Pulling on other sources, he added that “conversation is the main activity” inside of these third places. Compressing the rest of his piece, the idea is that people inherently want to feel connected to one another. Twitch acts as a conduit for this and facilitates human connection in an increasingly private world.
And he’s not wrong.
The sites premise is practically built on this active viewership and majority of content is centred around the audience. Viewers enjoy the idea of being able to communicate with each other and have a say on what content gets produced.
For example, there is a whole sub-community called “Twitch plays” which entails viewers working together to actually play a game. The most notable of which was “TwitchPlaysPokemon” which, at time of writing, has amassed over 73 million views. I mean, think about the amount of commands which would be entered and somehow has culminated in the completion of a complex game like Pokémon.
However, it’s not all roses.
The stark reality is that it is not a total magical place where we can all join hands and sing kumbaya. One of the biggest pollutants on the platform is the unsettling degree to which women (particularly streamers) are sexualised.
Advertisers have long played in the fact that sex sells and Twitch is no exception.
In a usual setting (those with male streamers playing video games), popularity translates to increased donations. The more popular you are, the more you will earn, simple as that.
However, females don’t seem to be affected by the same sort of rules and the correlation becomes obvious when you examine Twitch’s user base. According to Twitch’s inhouse stats, 81.5% of Twitch viewers are Male and 55% of those are between ages 18-34.
Yeah, its as creepy as you might think and the Youtube user “Glink” sums it up beautifully in this video:
These streamers know what they’re doing and its quite frankly sad that it is working. It’s almost as if the sexualisation of women through technology has been done before?
Yes, the practice makes call back to the 2000s craze of “Camming” which had people performing various ‘activities’ on webcam in exchange for cash.
But when you really break it down, how different is camming from twitch streaming? The truth is, they both live stream a person/s, they both have an in-house ‘tip’ system and they both have huge user bases of men. It could be argued that neither is more noble than the other, however, the two ideas really should be kept separate. I mean, think of the kids?
I don’t want to delve too much in to why someone would pay for this kind of content, but let’s just say its cold and depressing. In any case, however you use the internet, keep it safe, keep it clean, the government is watching.
And so, this concludes our wild dive in to the underbelly of the electronic arts. To not end on a bad note and give you hope, I leave you with this:
Ciao for now.