Tag Archives: twitch

‘The Discord Is The Church:’ A Place For Gamers To Worship

A few months ago, I was watching streamer Matt Souza play Fortnite on a custom server while I played along with his community, GodSquad Church. With a laptop earbud in one ear and my PC headset over another, I landed randomly on a hilltop near Polar Peak, only to immediately be killed by a player I didn’t see. As my screen swerved to spectate my killer, I saw their screen name: PastorSouzy, the handle of Souza. Instead of basking in his victory, as another streamer might, Souza thanked me via stream for joining the chat, adding, “I appreciate you.” Moments later, he killed another player and thanked them for playing too, throwing in a “God bless.”

It’s not the response I’d expect from a streamer or a Fortnite player, but this wasn’t exactly a regular stream. GodSquad is an online church, and the custom server was their version of a real-life church’s spaghetti dinner. GodSquad’s congregation plays games together a lot, but they also hang out on Discord or chat with each other during Souza’s near-daily personal stream. On weekends they have services, which take place on Twitch.

Over Discord voice call, Souza tells me, “I asked myself, if I’m a gamer, which I am, and I hardly ever leave my house, which I don’t, how am I gonna get the story of Jesus to people who don’t leave their house? And that’s when I found Twitch.”

Souza, 29, is the founder and lead pastor of GodSquad Church, which calls itself “the world’s first church for gamers.” The church’s values statement acknowledges issues that gamers tend to face, such as trolling and toxicity, as well as the mental health struggles or social isolation that can come from or drive people to game excessively. In my time observing the church, congregants seem to talk to each other as much about gaming as they do about religion. GodSquad has a Discord of about 2860 members, and while Souza and his wife Amanda Lee, the church’s executive and music director, are based in Virginia, the church’s other staff and congregants are scattered across the world. “The Discord is the church,” Souza says, since it’s the place “where people are doing life together,” but they also have services, streams, and occasional in-person meetups.

The Discord server is separated into different rooms where people coordinate playing video games together, discuss movies and books, and share memes, as well as make prayer requests or meet in private rooms or video chat for one-on-one prayer or pastoral counseling. I’ve spent a month observing the Discord on weeknights and after GodSquad’s services. It’s a lot more lively than your average physical church, with at least a handful of people around all the time. The server gets especially active after a service, when Souza or another worship leader invites regular viewers and newcomers to join them to chat or play games.

Services happen every Saturday evening on GodSquad’s Twitch channel, with a second service having just been added on Saturday afternoons. Besides the fact that no one’s in the same room, it’s a lot like any other church service. Amanda performs modern praise music with the lyrics shown on-screen. Prayer requests are offered up in chat or via the Discord. While it can be funny to hear people referred to by their Twitch handle, the prayers sound familiar to anyone who’s been to physical worship: jobs, relationships, health. Financial offerings are requested through Streamlabs, text, or via GodSquad’s website. The most incongruous parts of the GodSquad services I’ve attended involve giveaways, where staff members raffle off gaming swag and console shop gift cards via “Penguin points,” a personalized Twitch currency that subscribers accrue from watching Souza’s streams. There’s also a reel of top five gaming clips that the community can vote on, which is a way for congregants to share the best of their gaming moments with each other.

Music at a recent GodSquad service
Screenshot: Twitch

The sermons are usually rooted in gaming or other geeky metaphors. They’re delivered by Souza from his home office, with nerdy toys and art in the background, or from the home of one of the church’s other staff members. Sermons I’ve watched include using the idea of video game delays as a lesson in spiritual patience, completionism as a metaphor for the story of Easter, or how God’s promises relate to Avengers Endgame, complete with an assurance that there won’t be any spoilers. A recent series of talks uses the console wars as a jumping off point for discussing diversity. Souza skirted theological specifics but said “Jesus is calling you and I to deal with diversity, whether it’s racial, whether it’s political, whether it’s preferential, whether it’s philosophical, whether it’s simply Xbox versus PS4.” The sermon came down firmly on the side of diversity being a good thing, while drawing a distinction between “sin and holiness,” between ideological differences and what Souza believes God thinks is right, leaving the latter vague. I haven’t heard specific hot-button issues like homosexuality or abortion in GodSquad sermons, though a recent video stood in favor of women preaching, a progressive stance in some denominations. GodSquad seems more focused on the issues viewers face in their lives and how they relate to one’s personal relationship with God than ecclesiastical tensions that might arise in physical churches or those more firmly rooted in a specific denomination.

Sermons shift in topic between gaming and religion, surprisingly, without tipping over into cool youth pastor parody. Gaming is acknowledged as what brought people to GodSquad, but it’s never made overly important or more serious than other aspects of congregants’ lives. While the sound effects and graphics could feel a little hokey to me at times, in sermons gaming largely serves as a rhetorical anchor or a model of a bigger theological concept. Souza in particular shifts between gaming and God well, and he’s especially compelling as a preacher. He’s conversational and intellectually approachable, quick to laugh and to implicate himself in the struggles and spiritual pitfalls he explores. He comes across as warm and passionate about both the message and the people hearing it; even when I’ve been dubious about a certain message or suspicious of a turn of phrase, it’s hard not to hear him out.

Souza gets a lot of public speaking practice since he streams seven hours a day most weekdays on his personal channel. He plays Fortnite and a lot of Old School Runescape. Sometimes the community raids other channels, often other Runescape streamers, filling their chat with messages of love and support. On Fridays, he hosts a segment called Real Talk where he invites viewers to ask him anything, whether that’s deep theological questions or advice about streaming. Christianity occasionally comes up in the chat, the day often begins with a prayer, and Souza falls naturally into talk of faith or Jesus from time to time. But other than that, Souza’s personal channel is a lot like any other streamer’s.

Souza has been streaming video games since 2014, but it wasn’t always as part of GodSquad. He and Amanda met while studying theology at a Pentecostal school in Massachusetts. Later, Souza worked in a brick-and-mortar Assemblies of God church in Oxford, Connecticut while gaming on the side.

At that time, Souza wasn’t public about his love of gaming, seeing it instead as an “almost secret lifestyle.” He’d played games since he was young, but as an adult, he felt it would be considered a shameful pastime, especially in contrast to his public role as a mature pastor. “I worked at a local church, suit and tie on Sunday mornings, I was Pastor Matt,” he explains. “It might sound silly, but it was almost a fear I had, if people found out I played video games… Are people going to think I’m going to be 35 and live in my mama’s basement without a job?”

In the summer of 2014, something happened that changed Souza’s mind. He was watching Twitch streamer Summit1g, not realizing at first what Twitch was, seeing it as “like a website where everyone can get together and, like, watch a YouTube video.” But then, he says, someone in chat asked a question, and Summit answered. “My mind was blown,” says Souza. “I was like, ‘He’s live, this is happening now?’” Summit’s stream in that moment had 25,000 people in it, and Souza couldn’t help but notice: “That is bigger than 99% of the churches in the world. I was like, it’s Tuesday morning!”

Souza was inspired. “I just had the thought: What if we were able to use this to influence people in a positive way, to teach them good principles about how video games and responsibilities do not need to be enemies, and also sharing with them what we have found to be life-changing, which is the power of Jesus, with other people who wanted to hear it?”

In the early days, Souza was more or less like any other new streamer. He got an Xbox, a “crappy” camera, and a “headset mic that was awful.” He made his Twitch title “A Pastor Playing Halo” and started streaming. He describes it as “literally while I’m shooting people in the face I’m telling them, ‘Hey man, God loves you.’” His early clips are incongruous—switching between talking about God’s love to cheering over a particularly good kill—but the casual chatter feels familiar, even if the subject matter might be unusual for Twitch. The channel started with three viewers, but more people started tuning in over the next year, with many of them accepting Jesus into their lives over stream.

A clip from an early stream

After over a year of streaming and gathering more viewers, Souza launched a GoFundMe to start turning GodSquad from a personal project into an actual organization. Due to various difficulties around becoming an officially-recognized church that didn’t have a physical location, GodSquad eventually came to operate under the umbrella of the church Souza had worked for in Connecticut. Souza’s home church was excited about the project—Souza tells me the response to GodSquad from the church world is “either one or the other extreme” between enthusiasm for their methods or disdain for “encouraging even more teenagers to waste their lives.” Luckily, his home church fell in the former camp rather than the latter. In March of 2016, GodSquad became a non-profit, “as real a church as any church you’ve ever walked into,” motivated by “the desire to reach people no one else was reaching, connecting with people no one else was connecting with:” gamers.

These days, when I watch, Souza’s personal streams have averaged between 70 and 100 viewers, with over 100 tuning in for GodSquad services. Souza tells me that his streams average about 7000 people every week, with about three-fourths of them being return viewers. The church has five core staff members: Souza; Amanda, who, in addition to music, manages the ins and outs of the church’s volunteers; media director Dylan “UnworthySeraph” Hoelz, who makes graphics and runs GodSquad’s website and social media; Community Care Pastor Raymond “Pastor Bos” Bosworth; and Joey “Pastor Joey” Simon, who leads the church’s small group studies under the title Level Up Pastor. Many of them stream from their own personal Twitch channels as well. Hoelz is a full-time paid staff member of the church, and Bosworth and Simon receive stipends. Souza and Amanda make money via Souza’s personal stream: “Technically my broadcast is how my wife and I make a living, and both of us just volunteer our time at the church,” Souza says. “Especially with the negative stigma of pastors and money and everything, we want to be above reproach in that area.”

There are also about 75 volunteers. Some moderate the Discord and Twitch chat. Others lead “ministry” guilds in games like World of Warcraft, where they attract other players through their behavior and high level of play and then introduce faith. If these players aren’t interested in learning more, Souza explains, they can just keep playing with the church’s guild. Volunteers must be members of the church for at least three months, and they’re interviewed over video before being accepted.

One volunteer moderator, Chris, tells me over Discord message, “I help cultivate a family friendly atmosphere for the server and Twitch chat and help resolve any conflict that might emerge within members of our server and Twitch chat. As a moderator I am expected to be available at certain times throughout the week, but there are many times where I help out even when I am not expected to, to make sure the community is being looked after.”

Chris came to GodSquad via Souza’s channel. He tells me he grew up Southern Baptist but felt alienated from the church and from God. “I hated churches, because when I showed up to church in ripped jeans and a T-shirt with a heavy metal band on it, I never felt welcomed. A pastor at one church told me to call him if I ever needed anything but wouldn’t answer the phone if I called. I felt like everyone thought that they were better than myself because they went to church every Sunday. It felt like I was surrounded by hypocrites.”

After turning away from religion, Chris says he struggled with depression, turning to “nicotine, alcohol, and women.” In September of 2017, he came across Souza’s channel while on lunch break at work. Souza was streaming a newly-launched game, and Chris stuck around. “To be honest, I thought the guy was a fake pastor that was just using a clever name to get viewers on Twitch,” Chris says. “God knew what He was doing that day. He knew how bad I needed a positive influence in my life. I became a member of GodSquad Church that day, and looking back, I’m so glad that I didn’t leave that stream and that I decided to stay.” After a year of membership, he became a volunteer because he “wanted to help people the way this community helped me.”

People don’t always have the same positive reaction to GodSquad as Chris. Some viewers just leave once they realize the stream can be religious; I’ve seen people enter chat, say, “Oh this is about God, bye” and exit. Others stick around to troll. In a service in February, Souza acknowledged the challenge of trolls coming into the community, saying, “People can come in at any time from anywhere in the world and say anything they want, literally 24/7.” The most aggressive trolling I’ve seen was a viewer dramatically overreacting to the telling of the Easter story, but I’d certainly believe there’s worse.

Unlike other Twitch channels or Discord communities, GodSquad is hesitant to ban people. Souza tells me that on Twitch they’ll often issue people 10-minute timeouts, after which many trolls will just leave. Those who get repeated timeouts, he says, will sometimes get curious and stick around or, he claimed in February, even join the church. Dealing with trolls can be trickier on Discord, where the challenges of time zones can mean that when trolling or hateful messages are left “at 4:30 in the morning, those messages stay there until someone wakes up.”

In our conversation, Souza shares a sentiment common in some denominations that people today are hostile to Christians. He chalks this up in part to what he sees as judgmental Christians misrepresenting the faith. In a recent video, he said, “Twitch is not a God-loving website, it’s a website where people are far from God… It breaks my heart to think that people hate God, but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that truth.” Whether the people trolling are doing so out of a distaste for religion specifically or just trolling for the sake of trolling, GodSquad faces a conflict of wanting to invite everyone in and then dealing with the consequences of that openness. The ease with which people can enter the church from their own homes means it’s easy for anyone to give church a shot, a strength GodSquad capitalizes on in its messaging. But it also means it’s easy for trolls to cause trouble, a situation most physical churches rarely face.

Recently, Souza has come to suspect the outward trappings of religiosity, especially on his personal channel, might hurt more than they help. He wants to reach people who aren’t Christians—one of GodSquad’s most prominent slogans is “You don’t need to believe to belong”—but most non-trolls willing to enter or stick around a stream titled “Pastor” are likely to be Christian already, or at least curious about religion. In our conversation, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be seen as a Christian streamer just looking for other Christians to hang out with. To further clarify this image, recently he changed the name of his Twitch channel and other social media and gaming handles from PastorSouzy to SouzyLive.

“I can’t share God’s love with people who refuse to enter my stream,” he said in a video describing the reasons behind the name changes. He compared his old Twitch name to starting a conversation with a friend by bringing up something they hate: “If I want to build common ground with people, it’s unwise for me to say, ‘Hey my name is Pastor Souzy and I love the thing you hate, let’s be friends.’” Whether people who pop into his streams unawares will be more likely to stick around, or whether the change will inadvertently invite more trolls, remains to be seen.

GodSquad faces other challenges unique to being an online-only church. During Saturday services I’ve watched, moderators have had to turn the chat away from games and back to the sermon more than once, like a digital version of hushing the kids in the back pews. During Runescape and Fortnite streams on Souza’s personal channel, viewers will hit him with complicated theological questions or personal issues when he’s trying to focus on gaming. Sometimes he’ll ask them to come back for Real Talk or head to the Discord. Other times, I’ve seen someone fill the chat with the story of an intense personal struggle—a heart attack, a miscarriage—and look for pastoral care a gaming-focused stream can’t necessarily provide. I’ve watched the chat fumble to respond to a person’s repeated requests for help while moderators direct them to one-on-one conversations or the Discord.

The church, in one form or another, is available to everyone all the time, which means people expect Souza to be available, too. Many streamers try to keep their viewers away from their personal lives, but Souza, by virtue of his job and unique community, has to invite it all in. Most streamers don’t go from entertaining viewers with a Fortnite stream to counseling people through their marriage or rallying the community to record a video for a congregant who’s just woken up from surgery.

Souza says, “Our church offers something that I don’t think I can say any other church on the entire planet does, which is that if you want, you can spend all day, every day, with your pastor.” The result sometimes looks to me like the internet version of The SimpsonsNed Flanders calling Reverend Lovejoy too often. Souza says, “No one’s going to knock on their pastor’s door at three o’clock in the morning, but people will definitely send us a Discord message at three o’clock in the morning and expect us to answer.”

The work can be “difficult and exhausting,” says Souza. “I’m definitely a small streamer, but I think I carry a weight that most streamers don’t carry.” When GodSquad was first taking off, he tried to respond to all his messages himself, but that quickly got out of hand, with people waiting too long for a response. “They’re reaching out, looking for help, and two months later their problem is over,” he laughs. “They’re no longer in need of care. I’ve made all these promises—we want to be there for you, we love you—but then they’ve waited over two months for a response.”

It’s a struggle too, Souza says, because he wants to keep his personal Twitch channel and the church separate. “To me, when you’re watching my stream, you’re hanging out with Matt. I’m not preaching a sermon, you’re just hanging out with me and who I am. In those moments when I’m talking about faith or praying for people, I’m not doing those because I’m a pastor, I’m doing those because that’s who I am.”

Souza streaming Fortnite
Screenshot: Twitch

But even making that separation clear, by trying to keep his personal streams focused on gaming or changing his name on Twitch, can’t undo the fact that people are still hanging out with their pastor. They want his attention, like any fan might, but they bring their personal and faith issues with them. Souza plays a greater role in their lives than just an entertainer, regardless of the focus of a day’s stream. “It can be difficult at times to try to live up to the expectations that everyone has,” he says. “I think people can put pastors on a pedestal and think that we are perfect and all-knowing and all-mighty, and the reality is that I’m not… Everyone has bad days, streamers have bad days. On the days you feel like you need encouragement, you’re still the one responsible to be giving out encouragement.”

Souza has methods for balancing life with streaming and with the business side of GodSquad, much of which has to be conducted in the evenings after he streams. He and Amanda have a date night on Wednesdays, and they don’t work on Sundays. “It doesn’t mean there’s not work to be done, we just don’t do it.” He hangs out with friends. He makes sure to pray, read the Bible, and keep his own faith life strong—“If I don’t truly love God it’s not going to be coming out of a place of passion, it’s going to be coming out of a place of obligation.” It’s the usual streamer stuff, as well as the usual ministry stuff, rolled into one. “That’s just leadership,” Souza says, “learning to deal with the pressures and unrealistic expectations. It’s never going to change. It’s not going to get better, it’s only going to get worse… The reality is that this is what I’ve signed up for and this is what I believe that God has called me to do.”

The pressures, as well as the opportunities, are made possible by the unique nature of Twitch. Even so, GodSquad is looking to move beyond the internet and into the physical world. This summer, they’ll have their second SquadCon, an in-person gathering at a church in Richmond, Virginia. They’ve also recently moved forward on a dream Souza has had since before they even started GodSquad: to build a LAN center. It won’t be an explicitly Christian LAN center, but it will nonetheless be a place to establish outreach for people who aren’t in the church and a place for members of the church to gather.

Through fundraising, GodSquad has raised $26,000 for the LAN center—specifically, that money is to put a down payment on some land and clear the trees off it, though they’re still closing on the property itself. The process has been difficult, with GodSquad’s current lack of a physical meeting place making it hard to secure loans as a church. In a sermon about the LAN center in April, Souza spun these challenges into a lesson in patience he could share with congregants. He has dreams of having these LAN centers around the country, “a vision and a plan I hope will outlive me,” but that dream is a long way off.

Souza skydiving as part of the fundraising goals for the LAN center

This project raises the question of why a church with such a strong virtual presence would need land, especially when so many members of the community are unlikely to ever visit it. Souza says GodSquad’s community was happy to give to the effort so that other people could have what they would want: a place to game with their friends. “Gamers growing up, we all sit alone in our rooms. I believe life is better when we do it together, and I believe video games are more fun when we do it together… I think God wants us to have a desire to be together and to have a place to be together.”

GodSquad is a small Twitch channel but a large and lively church, with an active attendance few physical churches can likely boast. Subcultural churches are nothing new: There are churches for runners and cowboys, churches where dinners replace standard worship. Organizations like Game Church and the Christian Game Developers Conference have combined Christianity and gaming before. I’m not sure if GodSquad would be as effective without the gaming angle, if it were something more akin to an online-focused church like Life.Church. Sharing the common interest of gaming seems to help GodSquad’s community cohere in a way physical churches, sharing only the commonality of geography, can struggle to do.

GodSquad’s gaming metaphors might seem corny in a service, but they aren’t a gimmick, and Souza’s passion for the topic is genuine. He wants to entertain viewers in his streams, and he wants to share his passion for Jesus with them, and these two goals are united by a desire to connect with other gamers on the internet. He tells me, “There’s a quote: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…That’s what I try to do every day on Twitch: build a relationship with them. ‘Hey man, I’m so glad you’re here. You’re a real-life person, you matter and have value. We’d love to play some games together.’”

Source: Kotaku.com

The Twitch Streamers Who Put People To Sleep (Literally)

I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully conscious for an entire David “Dog” Caero Twitch stream. The Hearthstone personality (and now inaugural Masters Tour champion) lives in Nevada, which means that when he hits the internet, it’s already twilight in my Brooklyn apartment. There’s nothing to blame but human chemistry; Hearthstone is a sedate viewing experience, and Caero maintains a placid, even-tempered tone through any curveballs the game throws his way. It can be downright narcotizing, if you’re already horizontal.

Caero, of course, never intended to serve as a bedtime siren for a sizable portion of his audience, but they still thank him for his soothing generosity every day. You can understand why, initially, the streamer didn’t know how to respond to those who celebrated his ability to knock them out more efficiently than anyone else on Twitch.

“I used to find it insulting. When I first heard about it like, ‘You fall asleep to me, OK? Thanks dude.’ But I’ve started to fall asleep to streams myself in the past year or so,” he explains. “I’m good with it now. After all, it [leaves the stream] on.”

There are ASMR Twitch channels, piloted by ASMR auteurs, who gently massage velvet patches and crinkle plastic bags in order to trigger all the delicate, aestheticizing comforts perfected by the corresponding ASMR YouTube scene. Dog’s stream is not that. He is who he always wanted to be: a man who plays video games professionally. But as Twitch continues to usurp traditional entertainment venues, our own personal rituals have begun to morph. A generation of Americans nodded off to Johnny Carson every night, and while Twitch streamers haven’t yet breached that level of monoculture ubiquity, they are, increasingly, the only thing worth watching at midnight.

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“It’s definitely something I’ve done as long as I’ve owned an iPad,” says Will Bindloss, a fellow Hearthstone streamer, pro, and journalist. “I like how certain Twitch streams are quite calming, offering just enough stimulation to take your mind off whatever’s been keeping you awake but not enough to prevent you from nodding off.”

The people I spoke to who use Twitch as auditory diphenhydramine all have their own tastes and proclivities for what conks them out. I prefer Hearthstone, for its metronomic pacing and thorough lack of heated gamer moments. Bindloss, on the other hand, says he normally tunes into speedruns. “Pokémon speedruns, specifically,” he clarifies. It’s an interesting dichotomy, considering the massive amount of intensity and virtuosity necessary to stick the landing on a GDQ-level performance, but there is a magic in the repetition of the craft that he finds spellbinding. “What I shoot for generally is a womb-like atmosphere,” he explains. The serene precision of the speedrunner imbues the viewer with a shared outside-the-Matrix euphoria, and I understand how nice that feeling can be at bedtime.

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More surprising are the streamers who play games on the complete opposite end of the tonal spectrum: first-person shooters, MOBAs, and battles royales, which are filled to the brimmed with explosions and ammunition. They too report plenty of fans who use their craft to fall asleep, which is vexing for Brian “Kephrii” St. Pierre, a Twitch personality known best for his professional-level Widowmaker play. Like Caero, St. Pierre operates in the witching hours, and he wasn’t sure how to process the fact that people were coming to his stream to pass out. How do you nod off in the middle of an Overwatch match, when the fireworks are blaring and 12 different Ultimates are popping off at once? St. Pierre says he has never altered his posture on camera to be more adaptable to those who are already comatose, which can lead to some rude awakenings around 3 a.m.

“I find sometimes when a jumpscare happens in a game, I’ll yell or shout and a handful of viewers will mention how I woke them up and scared the hell out of them,” says St. Pierre. “They always come back though.”

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It’s a reality that gets funnier and more surreal toward the end of his stream, when the clock strikes bleak digits. On Twitch, streamers often “host” other Twitch streams after they themselves go offline. Essentially, they redirect their viewership directly into another personality’s feed as a way to give them a free boost in viewership—similar to how CBS might slap a nascent sitcom at the end of their Super Bowl broadcast. St. Pierre is happy to host, but he always makes sure to give whoever he’s working with a disclaimer. “I have to warn them that 70 percent of the viewers are probably asleep,” he explains.

Monte “Dreads” Doebel-Hickok, a Los Angeles native who streams Hearthstone in his current home of Canada, tells me the anesthesia-streamer gimmick can be a useful tool in any streamer’s arsenal. The later the show goes, he says, the more sedentary the people tuned into the broadcast become—simply because it’s difficult to exit a browser when you’re already asleep. That can be a powerful ruse on Twitch, where metrics are king no matter where they come from. The fellow streamers he hosts have absolutely no qualms about performing to the audience’s subconscious, as long as the red number in the corner of the screen stays high.

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“When I host someone at 10 p.m., those viewers are going to be way more active than if I host at 1 or 2 a.m. There might be more viewers in the channel at 2 a.m., but some people have passed out at that point,” he says. “I don’t think [the people I host] really mind. Anything that props up their total viewer count is a positive.”

Doebel-Hickok thinks that streamers have some version of the absentee advantage no matter what time they’re on air; Twitch is passive entertainment, and it’s easy for someone to forget to close a tab before leaving for work. He is more than OK with being anyone’s white noise—as Bindloss said, there’s value in being a personality that’s interesting enough to enjoy watching, and boring enough to ignore when you’re distracted by something else. Doebel-Hickok says that while he likes to wind down at night by watching Netflix, he tends to mark bedtime with a Twitch stream. “If I miss five or 10 minutes because I’m zoning out, it’s not a big deal. You can jump back into a Twitch stream at any time,” he says. “If they have a peaceful voice, it just allows you to get into that zone before going to sleep.”

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St. Pierre thinks the appeal is the idea that there’s someone else in the room. A comforting sense of presence, the feeling of not being alone, which is one of the core things most human beings need from bedtime. Doebel-Hickok agrees with that and mentions the tight-knit communities in Twitch chat, explaining that collective hibernation could begin to feel routine.

As a generation, our sleep habits have been weaned on video games. Before I discovered ASMR, Zzzquil, or any other sleep aid, I had my friend Ryan, marathoning his way through Metal Gear Solid 4 till the hint of dawn peaked through our windows. Sometimes, I recall our legendary World of Warcraft benders, endless juvenile summer nights carving through a campaign, cemented to the bedroom floor. To this day, I associate a delectable, stress-free drowsiness from the sound of a Warrior stance change. It was my favorite way to kill a night and, for a very long time, my favorite way to fall asleep. It only makes sense that we’ve created a system that captures that feeling in its fundamental essence. Twitch is so many different things, but elementally, it’s a guarantee that someone, somewhere, will be playing Goldeneye all night long.

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Luke Winkie is a writer and former pizza maker from San Diego, currently living in Brooklyn. In addition to Kotaku, he contributes to Vice, PC Gamer, Variety, Rolling Stone, and Polygon. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Stop Freaking Livestreaming While Driving

A worst-case scenario: being the subject of a video on the subreddit Livestream Fail titled “Guy wrecks car while reading Twitch chat and driving.”

In the 2018 video, a Twitch streamer named Jaystreazy is at the wheel of his car, rapidly shifting his eyes between the road and what is presumably a mounted phone screen displaying a live feed of Twitch viewers’ comments. A fan whose handle includes the number “420” tells Jaystreazy that his stream is “pretty awesome.” Jaystreazy agrees, reiterating, “This is pretty fucking awesome,” before immediately crashing his car.

You might think that incident, and around a half-dozen others, would have scared people off doing it again, but Twitch users are still streaming while driving. Over the last couple weeks, two more Twitch streamers have been thrown in Twitch jail for it, resulting both in their suspensions and embarrassing footage of their recklessness. Please, streamers, look us in the eye and repeat after us: “Literally no one cares about my driving content enough for me to risk dying for it.”

Twitch streamers—hell, influencers of any sort—face enormous pressure to be constantly online. That’s how they build their brand, their fanbase and their cash donations. For some streamers, and especially those streaming under Twitch’s grab-bag “IRL” section, being constantly online means having a video camera pointed at you all day, wherever you go, and interacting with your viewers all the while. If there’s any takeaway from the last couple years so far, it’s that attention is money, and that people who have lots of both attention and money can be fucking dumbasses.

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The recent streaming-while-driving instances in question: streamers Mitch Jones and Kailey “Kbubblez” Hankins were at the wheel together in late June when, on a camera held by Jones, Hankins rolls right through a stop sign at a four-way interaction and, shortly after, another. Jones, sitting beside her, is exasperated. “Oh my god,” he says after she blows through a third stop sign with a left-hand turn. “I would rather drive looking at my phone.” She responds: “What do you mean?”

GIF: Mitch Jones, Kbubblez

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Jones had been suspended from Twitch days prior after himself driving while looking at Twitch chat on his phone. On Twitter, Jones apologized.

Today, Dexerto reported that on July 10, the streamer Bri Teresi—while livestreaming—ate spoonfuls of ice cream from a pint container while steering with her knees. That too resulted in a suspension.

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“Our channel got striked on Twitch because I was not being the best driver :/ I’m sorry guys, I won’t be distracted while driving again,” said Teresi on Twitter. “I realize how stupid & reckless it is. @katieteresi & I will be streaming Vidcon from our YouTube channel!”

Streaming while driving has been inciting controversy for years, with Twitch suspending multiple accounts for violating its rule against “self harm.” Twitch’s guidelines clarify that “self harm” includes “Any activity that may endanger your life or lead to your physical harm is prohibited,” and cites “dangerous or distracted driving.”

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If the multiple instances where streamers get into car crashes—sometimes while intoxicated—as they completely refuse to pull themselves away from their oh-so compelling drivel chat streams hasn’t convinced anyone to stop doing that, here’s another try: The money or followers you lose from logging off doesn’t hold a candle to how much it costs to defend yourself in court for vehicular manslaughter.

Source: Kotaku.com

Two Weeks After Suspending Dr. Disrespect For Livestreaming In Bathroom, Twitch Restores His Channel

Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm
Photo: Dr. Disrespect (YouTube)

Last night, Twitch reinstated Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm’s gargantuan Twitch channel. This follows its removal after an incident at E3 involving a camera, a public bathroom and a 14-day channel suspension.

Dr. Disrespect, whose whole schtick is bald-faced irreverence, was attending California’s E3 convention when, on the show’s first day, he and his cameraperson live-streamed Dr. Disrespect entering a bathroom. Tens of thousands of viewers watched him walk past bathroom-using attendees and go into a stall—all of which was apparently a violation of Twitch community guidelines. Twitch suspended him as a result and, on top of that, E3 revoked his badge.

Dr. Disrespect didn’t seem to be taking his ban very seriously, as evidenced by his posting an E3 recap video described as, “Mishaps lead to Recaps,” poking fun at Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ new figurines (“Where do I find these? Next to My Little Pony or Barbie?”), and posting emotes of himself in a bathroom stall. Yesterday, Twitch reinstated his channel and, predictably, his fans are pumped. Dr. Disrespect has remained offline, but his chat is full of excited viewers anticipating his next stream.

Twitch declined to comment and Dr. Disrespect did not immediately respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.

Said one fan this morning in the Twitch chat, “All these others channels shaking in their boots over Doc’s return. The face of Twitch is back…Twitch is lucky.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Fortnite Competition Hosts Help Deaf Teen Player Feel Welcome

During last weekend’s Fortnite Summer Block Party, 13-year-old Deaf streamer Soleil “Ewok” Wheeler played in the event’s Celebrity Pro-Am and met some of her favorite streamers. While it was cool to see a young player have an awesome time, it was even cooler to see a high-profile example of accessibility in gaming.

As reported by Dexerto, Ewok was a small Fortnite streamer who hit the public eye when streamer TimTheTatMan hosted her stream last March, catapulting her from less than a thousand followers to currently over 136,000. Since then, she’s gained more followers and prominence, even squadding up with popular Fortnite streamers Ninja, DrLupo, and Chap.

Last weekend, she teamed up in the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kurt Benkert to donate $20,000 to the youth programs of the National Association of the Deaf. Benkert learned American Sign Language (ASL) for the matchup, and the two communicated during the match via Facetime and private chat.

According to her Twitter feed, Ewok met many of her favorite streamers at the Block Party, including TimTheTatMan. “Here’s the guy who changed my life when he hosted me. Thank you so much, TimTheTatMan. Finally got a chance to meet you and thank you in person,” she tweeted alongside of picture of her with TimTheTatMan.

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She also met streamers Ninja, Tfue, and Nickmercs. Several streamers, such as Fortnite player Aydan and Nick Eh 30, learned some ASL words to talk with her. DrLupo also communicated with her in ASL.

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Fortnite developer Epic Games made sure Ewok was able to communicate with others during the Pro-Am. “I’m so impressed withEpic Games how they accommodated me as a Deaf gamer. They invited me on stage after the Block Party to make sure that the logistics of interpreting is effective, where she is gonna stand and what to expect,” Ewok tweeted, sharing video of the Pro-Am event staff coordinating with her and her interpreter.

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Fortnite casters Zeke and Sundown learned some ASL to talk with Ewok about her favorite dance and weapon.

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“I’m so thankful for all that Epic Games has done for me and the Deaf community,” Ewok tweeted after the Block Party. “They learned signs to communicate with me and embraced who I am as a Deaf person and gamer. I already loved Fortnite long ago but now this whole experience made me fall in love with it even more.”

Source: Kotaku.com

How to Stream All the Coolest E3 2019 Events From Home

Photo: Mike Epstein

Next week is going to be very exciting if you like video games. This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3, returns to LA from Tuesday, June 11 through Thursday, June 13. During the show, and the press conferences leading up to it, gamers will get their first looks at the biggest games coming out through the end of year, next year, and beyond.

Though E3 is open to the public, it’s an expensive ticket — a now sold-out “gamer pass” costs $249 this year. Luckily, in the age of Twitch everybody livestreams. While you can’t do everything a fan can do at the show—play some of the games, wait in extremely long lines—you can see most, if not all, of the games available to the public at the show. You can watch all of the publisher “keynote” press conferences from the comfort of your own home, plus official panels, and many, many live shows broadcast from the show floor. (Having attended the show myself many times, including the last two years when it’s been open to the public, I think watching from home is the better option for most people).

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There are tons of broadcasts to sift through, especially once the show starts. To help you keep up, we’ve compiled the livestreams for all the biggest events and broadcasts throughout the week.

Phase 1 — Before the show

The best parts of E3, especially when you’re watching from home, happen before the show floor even opens. Many of the biggest publishers hold press conferences and events beforehand to get their biggest announcements out ahead of the show opening, while they still have everyone’s attention. All of these events are livestreamed and scheduled back-to-back, so you could, in theory, watch them all and geek out with the rest of the world in real time. That’s pretty much four whole days of video game news, though, so maybe you just want to look at the schedule and pick your faves. (It’s supposed to be pretty nice out this weekend is all I’m saying).

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Saturday, June 8

EA Play – 9:15am PT

Prior to E3, Electronic Arts—maker of Madden, FIFA and Apex Legends, among other things—holds its own little public showcase, EA Play. In past years, EA has held a press conference like other publishers, but has decided to go a new direction in 2019. This year, there will simply be a series of broadcasts devoted to each of its highlighted games. Some, like Jedi: Fallen Order, are new. Others like the videos on Apex Legends and The Sims 4, will discuss changes to ongoing games. Here’s a schedule, so pick and choose what you want to see.

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  • Countdown to EA Play (9:15am PT)
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (9:30am PT)
  • Apex Legends (10:00am PT)
  • Battlefield (10:30am PT)
  • FIFA 20 (11:00am PT)
  • Madden NFL 20 (11:30am PT)
  • The Sims 4 (12:00pm PT)

Nintendo eSports “World Championships” – 11am PT

Nintendo is also here to whet your appetite early with some ol’ fashioned eSports, hosting “world championship” events for its two biggest competitive games Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2. There’s also going to be a competitive Super Mario Maker event, where some streamers try and beat some especially difficult levels made by Nintendo staffers in Super Mario Maker 2, which comes out later this month.

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  • Super Mario Maker 2 Invitational – 11am PT
  • Splatoon 2 World Championship – 11:30 PT
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate World Championship – 2pm PT

Sunday, June 9

Xbox press conference – 1pm PT

Microsoft’s press conference seems poised to be the biggest news event of the show this year. Pundits expect Microsoft to discuss the next-gen Xbox consoles, as well as Project XCloud, the company’s upcoming streaming service. Plus, there will be many, many game announcements, both for Xbox One exclusive games and third-party games coming to the platform.

Bethesda press conference – 5:30pm PT

Bethesda, makers of historic game franchises like Doom, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout, will also holds its annual press conference. Going into the show, Bethesda already said it will not be discussing the next Elder Scrolls game, so Bethesda’s most exciting known project is Doom Eternal, the follow-up to the beloved 2016 Doom reboot.

Devolver Digital – 7pm PT

Independent publisher Devolver Digital is bringing back its satirical pre-E3 livestream. Going into its third year, the pre-recorded “show” highlights the publisher’s games while poking fun at the tropes of tech “keynotes” like the ones held before E3 each year. It’s pretty fun, but definitely meant for people who have been watching these events for many years.

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Monday, June 10

The PC Gaming Show – 10am PT

While most of the games shown at E3 are available on both consoles and PC, the large presence of Microsoft and Nintendo (and, until this year, Sony) make it feel like more of a console gaming focused show. The PC Gaming Show, organized by PC Gamer magazine, is the keynote for publishers looking to talk about PC exclusives. It’s primary announcements are generally smaller than the other keynotes, but it’s still worth a watch, especially if you miss the PC gaming flavor.

Ubisoft press conference – 1pm PT

Ubisoft, publisher of popular franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and anything with Tom Clancy in the name, always have a lot of big news to share at E3, hence the keynote. Ubisoft has said that many of its publicly known projects will not be present at E3, so there may be a few surprises at this one. One thing we have heard about: Watch Dogs: Legion, an ambitious-sounding third entry in the hacking-focus open-world action series.

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Kinda Funny Games Showcase – 4:30 PT

Like the PC Gaming Show, the Kinda Funny Games Showcase is an independent, media-run pre-E3 event. Assuming it works similar to the first “showcase” video the group organized last December, this pre-recorded show will compile a series of trailers for unannounced indie games. The E3 event may be different, though? We’ll have to see!

There’s no link for it at the moment, but you’ll be able to livestream Kinda Funny Showcase from the group’s YouTube channel when the time comes.

Square Enix Press Conference – 6pm PT

Rounding out the evening, Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix will hold a press conference to show off its E3 offerings. The Square Enix show could be very interesting this year: The company pre-announced that there will be news about its long-in-development Avengers game. And of course, RPG fans are anticipating more info on the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII remake.

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On its E3 page, Square Enix recommends you watch its livestream at its web site, sqex.link/e3. It does seem as if it will also be available through the company’s Twitch channel as well, which I’ve embedded above.

Tuesday, June 11

Nintendo Direct: E3 2019 edition – 9am PT

As always, Nintendo rounds out the pre-E3 press conferences pre an extended “Nintendo Direct” livestream just before the show floor opens. You can expect to hear more about the next Pokémon games, Sword and Shield, Super Mario Maker 2, as well as a fair number of unannounced games. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier said something about Animal Crossing, but who knows? (Honestly, he probably does).

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Phase 2 — During the show

At Noon, Pacific, on June 11, the E3 show floor opens and all bets are off. You can assume that pretty much every game developer and publisher will have some kind of broadcast going during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, showing and dissecting the games on the show floor. If you’ve been following, or just have a favorite game you’d like to check up on, I recommend going to that company’s Twitch channel—chances are you’ll get to see more of the game you’re looking for before too long.

If you’re interested in getting a more holistic view, there will also be a fair number of variety shows, highlighting new games, providing analysis and impressions of what’s going on at the show. Here are a couple of sweeping options that should have a lot of interesting content during the show you won’t find at a developer or news publication.

E3 Coliseum

When the Entertainment Software Association, the organizer of E3, opened the show to the public, it also introduced the E3 Coliseum, a series of panels for fans, where developers come talk about their games and topics related to the future gaming throughout the show. This year’s schedule includes deep dives on some of the biggest upcoming titles, including the next Call of Duty, Doom: Eternal, Borderland 3. Netflix is also doing a panel about “bringing your shows to life,” which sounds interesting (and potentially eventful).

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Hosted by The Game Awards producer Geoff Keighley, the E3 Coliseum is livestreamed on YouTube, so fans at home see the panels as well. Keighley’s “E3 Live” coverage technically begins Sunday, June 9, so he’ll also have coverage and commentary for the press conferences as well, if you’d like a little extra flavor.

In past years, YouTube hosted the E3 Coliseum in its YouTube Gaming subsite. With the closed down, I recommend going directly to the channel for Keighley’s company, GameSlice, where you should be able to find both the livestreams for this year’s panels and recordings from last year.

For a full list of all the E3 Coliseum panels and show times, check the program’s official schedule.

Twitch

Not wanting to be outdone, Twitch also has a large presence on the E3 show floor and broadcasts interviews with developers about everything that’s going on with the show.

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As of June 4, Twitch hasn’t released a schedule for its E3 programming yet, but based on last year it seems safe to say the channel will get a chance to talk to every major game and studio at some point, making it a solid channel to check if you aren’t looking for something specific.

Source: Kotaku.com

Twitch Isn’t Just For Watching Games, It’s For Waiting For Them

Earlier this week, Sony announced the Death Stranding release date via a nearly day-long Twitch stream that mostly just showed handprints appearing on a black screen. The reasons why fans would watch this is obvious: Anticipation is exciting, and infectious. The reasons why it is encouraged by publishers is also obvious. Marketing on the internet has always sought to use fan enthusiasm to some corporate benefit, and anticipation is often the easiest way to do that. Countdown clocks, trailers, alternate-reality games and puzzles are all ways to excite fans and get them talking about a game.

Twitch has become so central to video games that publishers have made it a vital part of their marketing efforts. Twitch streams can be watched in places and times where games aren’t an option; they can also be watched as games are played. It’s a locus of attention that’s irresistible to a company with games to sell, which then makes it beneficial for these companies to find ways to get fans to spend even more time on Twitch. They don’t even have to engage with a game that’s out now. Which is how we get to Death Stranding.

The Death Stranding effort was confusing, as a lot of Kojima hype tends to be. The stream was mostly a black image, with a few outlines of handprints and eerie music. At noon, the full video was released, a nearly nine-minute trailer for Death Stranding. The plan seems to have worked, and the Death Stranding trailer racked up nearly five million views in a day’s time.

There was no real reason to watch the livestream—no mystery to solve, no real audience participation beyond showing up. What’s more, anyone who is online enough to watch a stream is also arguably online enough to know when the stream’s end result is achieved without bothering to tune in. The stream recalls another absurd livestream marketing moment, when HBO decided to reveal the premiere date for Game of Thrones’ seventh season by hiding it in a block of ice, which would eventually melt and show the world a date. A date fans would’ve eventually learned anyway, and posted about anyway.

Twitch is already something of a closed loop, integrated into the machines we play games on, so we can stream games and watch games that are streamed. But publishers have increasingly made an effort to control the contours of that loop, using their resources to tip the odds in their favor.

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If you watched the Borderlands 3 reveal stream on Twitch last month, you had the chance to win in-game loot. Last fall, watching affiliated streamers on Twitch for an hour could have netted you early access to Black Ops 4’s Blackout beta. Rocket League fans can earn exclusive customization rewards by linking their accounts and watching streams. Those rewards are offered through the Twitch Drops program, which has also been integrated by other publishers and developers. When The Division 2’s first raid went live earlier this month, fans who watched select streamers run the raid could earn items in the game. In the Twitch attention economy, publishers have vast capital that no one else does: information on highly anticipated games to disseminate, and plenty of door prizes for players of games that are out.

As big-budget games move away from static, discrete products towards a “games as a service” model, attention has become a scarce resource. There are only so many games one person can pay attention to at a time—and when said games are persistent affairs, so many future games that can be anticipated. Thus we have hype as a service, and all the things publishers will try in order to keep their audience fixated on an upcoming game, in the hopes that long-term anticipation might translate to long-term interest once that game is out. And what better place to see that unfold than on Twitch—the best place to watch and wait for games.

Source: Kotaku.com

Socialist Twitch Streamer Says He’s Changing Minds

Leftist Twitch streamer Hasan Piker guested on the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House, and told the Chapo hosts that he’s breaking through to the insular, potentially reactionary teens on Twitch.

Hasan Piker, who works for the left-wing news YouTube news show The Young Turks, is a pretty popular Twitch streamer with over 90,000 followers. He’s also an outspoken socialist, and his audience crosses over with the incredibly popular Chapo Trap House podcast. Last night’s episode had Piker explaining the streaming platform to co-hosts Will Menaker, Amber Frost, and Matt Christman.

Chapo co-host Felix Biederman, who wasn’t present for this episode, is an avid gamer and streams on Twitch himself. But Piker said that Biederman doesn’t really participate in the culture of Twitch, jokingly calling Biederman and his friends the “Boomers of Twitch.” For Piker, participating in that culture and talking to young people is part of the reason why he came to the platform. He had been on Facebook duty at The Young Turks, and found that experience to be miserable.

“Everyone that watches Facebook news now is like 68 years old. So it’s awful. I mean, they vote, but whatever, they don’t care for my leftist takes regardless,” Piker told the hosts of Chapo. “So I got on Twitch because I knew that this is a young audience, mostly male, probably prone to reactionary politics, but their political idols are a bunch of idiots. I mean, they don’t know anything. All the takes that they’ve heard about like leftist politics have been just strawmen from the likes of Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro.”

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Piker said that once people see him, they have to reconsider their preconceived notion of leftists, which he characterizes as mostly gleaned from “SJW cringe compilations.” Although Piker said that his audience responds to his argument when they’re presented through memes, he did also say that simply by not living up to a leftist stereotype, he’s swaying people away from the right.

“The thing is that they don’t have a lot of access to proper leftist representation. When someone comes in and is like, ‘Oh no, both parties are pretty bad and here’s what we should be doing, like the rest of the world, and this is why it’s wrong,’” Piker said. “They’re like, ‘oh, this is a little different from what I expected the left to be like.”

Piker also talked to the Chapo hosts about his audience of young queer people, and they round out the episode by clowning on a frequent subject of the podcast’s ire, former Trump cabinet member Sebastian Gorka. The whole episode is worth a listen, but it’s particularly amusing to hear Menaker, Frost, and Christman struggle to understand Twitch. At the very least, Menaker said that Biederman finally got him invested in Metal Gear Solid, just by virtue of talking about it constantly.

Source: Kotaku.com

Top Streamers Said To Earn $50,000 An Hour Playing New Games

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at the 2017 Doritos Bowl
Photo: Robert Reiners (Getty Images)

Top Twitch streamers can make $50,000 per hour streaming new video games, the Wall Street Journal said in a weekend report. Kotaku spoke with industry sources who confirmed the report, adding that $50,000 per hour wasn’t even the highest figure they’d seen.

The report claims that publishers like Activision Blizzard, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts regularly pay big sums to big-name Twitch streamers, who play and publicize their games for large dedicated live fanbases (Ben “DrLupo” Lupo, referenced in the story, has 3.2 million Twitch followers). When popular streamers check out new games, it may not be purely out of personal interest; they’re often making big money, the report claims.

Getting $50,000 an hour to livestream a game and make it seem cool is a hell of a gig. According to two industry sources interviewed by Kotaku, that number may not even be highest threshold. “We’ve seen offers well over $50K an hour, as well as many six- and seven-figure deals for longer-term engagements,” said Omeed Dariani, CEO of the Online Performers Group, which represents top streamers like Cohh Carnage and Professor Broman. “I can’t share specific companies, as the payment terms are usually confidential. We had one offer from a AAA publisher that was $60K per hour for two hours. The broadcaster declined it—and the publisher came back with a ‘blank check’ offer, which was still declined.”

Pricing isn’t just based on reach, he added: “Bigger audiences (typically anything over 5,000 viewers) tend to be younger and have lower engagement, so you can’t just say something like ‘1 viewer for 1 hour = $1.’ Not all streamers (and their viewers) generate the same results.”

To those following the $43.4 billion industry’s financial trends, huge-money sponsorships shouldn’t be a surprise. Twitch streamers are 2019’s pop culture, and to savvy marketers, nothing could be more intuitive or cost-effective than leveraging this fledgling industry’s relatable microcelebrities to promote a product. That was a game-changer for survival shooter Apex Legends, which became the number one game on Twitch after top streamers livestreamed it. Electronic Arts’ stock gained near 10 percent following the boost.

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“Your game being top on Twitch is worth a lot now,” said Adam Lieb, CEO of marketing firm Gamesight. The money Electronic Arts invested in Twitch influencers, he said, “they could have spent on ads on Twitch or IGN and it would not have made as big of an impact.”

Livestreaming may feel more authentic than traditional ads to fans, who trust their favorite streamers to give their honest, candid opinion. But the companies sponsoring these streams can maintain a degree of influence on their content. According to Dariani and Lieb, it’s common for game publishers to ask streamers to sign non-disparagement clauses.

“Disparagement is not the same thing as criticism,” Dariani explained. “It’s more like saying ‘the developers of this game are morons and should all be fired’ rather than ‘the combat system in this game could use some adjustments.’” Other times, according to Lieb, a game publisher might just ask a streamer to check out their game first to see if they like it. A 2016 Kotaku report included one marketing firm’s guidelines for what constitutes a kosher sponsored video:

DO:

  • Find something in the game to gently poke fun atIncorporate trailers / gameplay footage in the video.

DON’T:

  • Curse or use foul language in your video

Celebrity streamers play an increasingly crucial role in publishing companies’ marketing plans, yet it’s not always clear that they’re doing it. A 2019 Reuters report alleged that Electronic Arts paid Tyler “Ninja” Blevins $1 million to play and tweet about Apex Legends. Blevins, along with Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, both streamed the game on its launch day with “Apex Legends partner” graphics, yet they didn’t seem to describe what that specifically entailed, reported Kotaku. Reached for comment, publisher EA explained that “EA requires full disclosure and transparency with every Game Changer, content activation, or paid sponsorship that we are involved with.”

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In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released guidelines on how influencers can endorse products legally. Reached for comment, a FTC representative referred Kotaku to their guidelines: “Since viewers can tune in any time, they could easily miss a disclosure at the beginning of the stream or at any other single point in the stream. If there are multiple, periodic disclosures throughout the stream people are likely to see them no matter when they tune in. To be cautious, you could have a continuous, clear and conspicuous disclosure throughout the entire stream.”

Influencer culture has become an inextricable arm of advertising. As more and more marketing happens behind the curtain, it’s becoming harder to tell when we’re being sold to, and at the same time, harder to care when we love who’s selling.

Source: Kotaku.com

YouTuber Etika Livestreams Himself Getting Detained By Police To 19,000 Viewers

Popular gaming YouTuber and streamer Desmond “Etika” Amofah was detained by Brooklyn Police this afternoon after allegedly threatening to harm himself as 19,000 viewers watched him live on Instagram via his phone. A police representative told Kotaku he is on his way to the hospital.

The stream of the incident lasted about 45 minutes, beginning with Amofah talking to the police and culminating with them escorting him out of his Brooklyn apartment.

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During the stream, which led to “Etika” trending worldwide on Twitter, Amofah alternated between pointing his phone camera at himself in his apartment and out the window to a street filled with at least three police cars and blocked by yellow caution tape. While it was sometimes hard to hear what police were saying, Amofah continually described himself as “scared,” even as members of his livechat suggested he comply with police. He said they removed his door handle and he held it aloft. The door eventually cracked open and what looked like a SWAT team complete with a riot shield came in. Amofah was asked to put his shoes on and escorted out.

Amofah built a following over the years for his love of streaming about games, particularly ones by Nintendo. In October, he uploaded pornography to his YouTube channel, which apparently resulted in its deletion. Afterward, Amofah posted a cryptic message on Reddit: “And now, it’s my turn to die. I love you all.” He later apologized for the confusing move on Reddit: “I’m sorry for worrying all of you,” he wrote.

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A Newsweek report published earlier today before the police incident described Amofah as struggling with mental health issues for months. In April, he said on Twitter that he was about to shoot himself. Days later, Amofah posted a photograph of himself holding a gun, which ex-girlfriend and fellow streamer Alice Pika said was faked. Last night on Twitter, where he has nearly 300,000 followers, Amofah had been posting frantic messages, including some slurs, for hours.

YouTuber Sky Williams, who apparently considers himself a friend of Amofah’s, realized he was blocked by the YouTuber today. “There is no combination of letters to describe how terrible I feel seeing this screen,” he wrote. “People keep waking me up because Etika continues to exhibit frightening behavior but I can’t do anything at all now and I’m sorry I couldn’t get through to him.”

On an Instagram today, Amofah livestreamed himself interacting with police officers attempting to enter his apartment after a concerned fan called 911 around 2:10 p.m, a police representative confirmed.

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Pika told Kotaku that “since he posts photos of him with weapons, it explains why there were so many cops there, because fans were scared he was going to kill himself. But those photos were fake, photoshopped guns on his image.”

Pika added, “I was never scared for his life today because I trust in him and the NYPD to safely take him to the hospital. Even last night, I wasn’t worried for his life.”

Thousands of fans watched as a police entered Amofah’s apartment, seizing him and removing him from the space. A representative from the NYPD confirmed to Kotaku that he was taken into custody at 2:44 p.m. “He’s got a psych history,” the representative said. When Kotaku asked why the police were called, the rep explained, “He was threatening suicide inside the apartment.” The representative said that Amofah was currently on the way to a Brooklyn hospital shortly before the time of this article’s publication.

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After police took Amofah away, his phone continued to stream, its camera pointed at a nondescript part of the room. The viewer count slowly diminished from 19,000 to 13,000 and lower before eventually ending.

Additional reporting contributed by Stephen Totilo and Chris Person.

Source: Kotaku.com