Why You Should Start Live Streaming on Twitch

A compelling simulation of social interaction and sanity amidst COVID-19


Remember back in March, when saying, “after all of this is over…” while waving your hand ambiguously, was fun to say?

Beyond all of the financial and medical losses that the world has been suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic underlies the severe lack of socializing with real humans for such a long period of time. I’m sure that the introverts stayed winning at first — but even they soon realized that it sucked to not have the ability to actively cancel plans.

Without physically participating in society, my mental health throughout the pandemic has bottomed out like the NASDAQ did earlier this year, and I’ve never wanted anything more than to actually walk inside of a Taco Bell. It’s been over half a year since I’ve sat down at a crappy diner at 2 a.m., went to a live concert, or ran through the streets of downtown Philadelphia drunk with friends.

But instead of recklessly risking my life (and others) just to waste my money on cheap thrills and overpriced drinks, I’ve realized that the internet has done a pretty good job of keeping myself connected this year. Obviously, it’s not a perfect substitute for face-to-face interaction, but activities like online gaming have been integral in maintaining friendships and harnessing social energy.

With nearly everyone possessing a computer, webcam, and a microphone these days (shoutout to Zoom University), live streaming has never been easier to pick up as a way to stay socially involved. And a lot of people are doing it already — Twitch.TV, one of the internet’s largest dedicated streaming sites, is up by over 50% in concurrent viewers since March 2020. Here’s a few reasons why you should take it up too.

1. You can watch or stream pretty much anything (legal).

Twitch.tv, one of the largest dedicated streaming websites on the internet, features a wide variety of games and categories. From the highest caliber of gameplay (esports) to not even gaming at all (such as ASMR, mukbang, or “just chatting” streams), Twitch is a site where communities are constantly created and growing.

Kasin “Mastoikasin” Lau, 21, recently picked up livestreaming as a hobby during the extended stay-at-home mandate. Despite no prior experience, nor an extensive background in gaming, Lau found Twitch to be an interesting platform.

“I had just gotten into gaming, and the whole [streaming] community was really nice,” she explains. “I had been stuck at home for six months already, and I couldn’t really talk to a lot of my friends.”

Twitch hosts a variety of different games and activities for broadcasters to sort by and viewers to search for.

Lau found that as a Twitch viewer, she could feel involved by interacting with streamers and other fellow viewers through the site. Despite no prior knowledge of the platform, she was able to integrate herself into streaming communities without confusion.

Tuning into streams is easy. Just browse by the game or subject you’d like to watch, or sort by what’s the most popular streams on the site. There are hundreds of thousands of users at any given time, so you’ll never feel out of options. If watching isn’t enough to satiate your need for social interaction, however, you can also begin streaming on your own channel as well!

2. Streaming is interactive.

Getting involved is quick and seamless, as most streams incentivize engagement and promote interaction. Feel free to ask questions and react in the chat, and talk with other viewers about what’s going on. If you like what you see, you can follow or even subscribe to streamers to support them. From there on, you may be led to join the streamer’s communities on other social media platforms, and make new friends with other viewers as well!

Flora “Skymuzai” Tan, a variety streamer and former Mt. SAC student, began streaming on the gaming social media platform over two years ago. Most of her broadcasts, however, consist of her simply having a conversation with her viewers.

“So my streams have usually always been ‘just chatting’ streams,” she explains. “People drop by and ask questions, or I’ll usually tell them really embarrassing stories about myself.”

It may seem like a strange concept — having a conversation with strangers through a computer screen to provide entertainment — but Tan believes that it’s the exchange of direct interaction and engagement that makes it so fun.

“People in chat will feed off of my stories and jokes,” she explains. “I think I appreciate that a lot.”

3. Joining stream communities allows you to meet new people.

Meeting strangers in-person is often difficult. However, by conversing with Twitch viewers online, you will be able to find common ground much easier and thus have more to talk about!

Lau personally reveals that she would not have met other content creators or new friends had it not been for streaming culture. She explains, “I’d been wanting to make new friends, but it was really hard while I was stuck at home. So being on Twitch made it a lot easier to meet new people.”

Through livestreaming on Twitch, Lau has been able to discover new games to play for her ever-growing community.

Through streaming, you can find yourself surrounded by many individuals with similar interests, and as both a viewer and streamer, you are bound to make new connections and relationships as you continue to interact with the people around you!

4. You can make money.

Believe it or not, streaming can be a great way to make some money on the side! Getting affiliated on Twitch takes as little as one week, and while the pay rate isn’t the highest, it’s still rewarding. Getting paid to broadcast yourself playing games or interacting with viewers sounds too good to be true, but it’s a very viable solution to getting some quick cash in the middle of the pandemic.

As a test, I set out to try to qualify as a Twitch affiliate myself. Hitting the minimum thresholds of 25 hours streamed on seven different days was a breeze. I had a few of my friends tune into my channel to maintain the average viewership numbers, but to my surprise, the majority of my viewers were strangers on the internet. Just a few weeks later, I had hit all the right requirements to become an affiliate.

Just a few weeks after qualifying as an affiliate, I was able to actually make money while broadcasting.

After filling out the right tax forms to officially register as a Twitch affiliate, I was able to rake in some cash right away. It didn’t matter that I was a very small streamer with an inconsistent schedule; making money through livestreaming was so much easier than I had initially thought.

5. Maybe your sanity will return.

Social interaction is scarce during these times, and it’s been harder than ever to maintain good mental health. COVID-19 has taken so much from us, but being adaptable as humans, we’re discovering new and innovative ways to find short-term alternative solutions to prevent the feeling of societal isolation.

The streaming community is just one of many new ways to adapt to the current circumstances; by staying involved and engaged with other humans, you just might feel a better sense of kinship despite physically being unable to interact with groups of friends in person.

“Especially being stuck at home, [streaming] is kind of like an escape from reality,” Lau concludes. “Watching other people stream on Twitch — people that I’ve never even met in real life — makes me feel better. I think that the purpose of streaming is because you enjoy doing it.”

Tan agrees, and wants to encourage others to start streaming and watching on Twitch in the current global climate as well.

“If you ever want to start streaming, you should just try to go for it, because you literally have nothing to lose right now,” she says. “On Twitch, we’ve all found a new way to hang out with each other, even though we can’t physically meet up. And with everything going on [right now], interacting with people helps.”