It's been a little over a month since I began streaming games on Twitch and I have to admit, it's been one heck of a rush.
What began as a sort of 'social experiment' to try to get me to come a bit more out of my shell (considering I've suffered from crippling social anxiety for years now and have become something of a recluse in real life) has transformed into something a bit more like a fixation. I might even go so far as to say 'addiction' but I have yet to find any genuine negative effects of streaming, so I feel the need to refrain from such a word. I mean, of course, there are the occasional trolls but they're easily ignored.
It's been a truly wild ride thus far. I began with sporadic streams that entertained perhaps one or two friends and nothing more to working my ass off on a near-daily basis to trick out my channel so that it looks even remotely professional(ish). I spend most of my free time researching how to make it better, more interesting, how to connect with other players and guests.. Even just watching other streamers and studying how they interact with their followers, trolls, communities, friends, and lurkers. It's been... educational, to say the very least.
There's just something about it. I feel less alone, more alive. I hate it when I have an evening when I can't stream because of one reason or another. My schedule is fairly simple but I find that I want to stream more, be more available to the few (30 now) followers that I have, just in case someone's bored and lonely and wants to hang out with me. I feel... welcome in this odd community of gamers, which is more than I can say about the other online community that I've been a part of for longer than I care to mention on this blog.
The communities that I've found have welcomed me with words of encouragement and open arms. Everyone has been incredibly warm and helpful. The very, very few that aren't have chosen to keep to themselves and linger in silence rather than make a racket, though I have seen the occasional upset. Thankfully, it's never been directed at me and has always been handled in a rapid and reasonable fashion.
My followers, the few that actually choose to linger and spend time in chat with me while I'm streaming, are all incredibly fun people. Of course, two of these are friends of mine from elsewhere but the rest have all proven to be entirely pleasant and fun to engage with. It makes me want to be more present, more active. It makes me feel like I'm not alone... and that in and of itself is something entirely incredible to me.
I feel happier, in general, since I started streaming. More connected, less alone, like there's some kind of purpose to my existence again. I look forward to meeting more people through Twitch and accruing more followers over time. I look forward to those amazing moments when I can laugh on webcam because I've just died for the umpteenth time because someone was talking at me in chat and I wasn't paying attention to the game. I look forward to tomorrow... and yeah, that's more than I've been able to say about life in general for a really long time.
About the death thing mentioned above, that was the first thing I learned when I started streaming.. It's not about the game, it's about the followers, the people. The game's secondary. At least, in my opinion and experience. I stream to offer people some entertainment, of course, so they can watch me play video games and listen to my insane blathering and random fits of frustrated profanity... but most of all, I stream to engage with other people, to talk to them and get to know them. I stream to make friends and maybe, to be a friend to people that need that connection, if only for a few hours a week.
The last month and spare change has been the most fun I've had in a long time, I wouldn't give it up for the world and I'm amazed every time I look at that little follower counter that there are actually people on this planet who thought I was interesting enough, in some capacity or another, that they might want to hang out with me sometime. That... that blows my mind.
Anyway, I'm going to leave this post here.
Special thanks goes out to the following communities and channels for helping me get on my feet at Twitch and just being incredibly awesome as I settle in:
Twitch Streamers of Note:
For anyone that might feel left out - Please be aware that I'm just giving a shoutout to the streamers that have made me feel welcome and that I've interacted the most with since I started streaming on Twitch. As that list grows new shoutouts will be given in the future. So fear not! Your channel might get a link sometime soon! :D
RoshelleLD and GhostGT27 of SafeZone - Both amazing people with great streams, incredibly welcoming to new streamers. Thank you both for letting me drop the occasional !shoutme in chat!
Hykiri - A truly awesome dude, always incredibly friendly and a lot of fun to chill with.
TXBoneCollector7 - Great guy and part of the Streamers Online community, thank you for trying to get me set up there. I know that process isn't quite finished yet but I look forward to working with you guys when it is.
JasonicProtosh - One of the very first followers I acquired that would come around fairly regularly and hang out while I was streaming, a fellow Bioshock geek and all around amazing guy.
Communities of Note:
CGN is an absolutely amazing Gamer Social Network created by the ever friendly and helpful Zheck. It has TONS of crazy useful information for new and old streamers alike and it's a great place to meet other streamers!
Discord has several great communities that are all about helping Twitch Streamers connect and improve their channels... and just hang out and have a bit of fun. I personally subscribe to the following - TwitchSharing - GSC - StreamersOnline (links may or may not work, I apologize if they don't work but those are the channel names, so that should be helpful... maybe O_o)