The gaming industry is one of the fastest evolving and growing technologies in the world. The first video game was created in a science laboratory in 1958, and in the 57 years that have followed we have made unimaginable leaps and bounds in the field. Currently, video games are making another huge transition into the fields of virtual reality and social gaming. Virtual reality has been the highlight of every digital gaming convention since 2012, when the Oculus Rift was announced. The technology is fast to improve, but is still off the consumer market until 2016. Social gaming, on the other hand, has made enormous leaps and bounds. The most popular and well known social gaming platform is Twitch.tv.
Twitch was started in 2011 as a spin off of Justin.tv, a general streaming website. Twitch focused specifically on gaming content – specifically walkthroughs, esport competitions, and creative personalized content. By 2013, Twitch had become immensely popular, with over 45 million unique viewers. Amazon.com acquired Twitch in 2014 for 970 million dollars. In 2015, Twitch has more than 1.5 million streamers and 100 million viewers per month – an outstanding number that makes it one of the most highly visited websites on the internet. Twitch has an almost monopoly on the esport and game streaming market. Although YouTube just released their version of Twitch (YouTube Gaming), it has had a negligible impact on Twitch’s large following. Twitch is forecastable to be the biggest steaming site for a long time.
So, how does one use Twitch? I felt the need to actually give the platform a try myself and see how I liked it. Setup was surprisingly easy – I logged on to twitch.tv on my laptop and connected to Facebook to set up my account. The homepage as well as personalizing my account was easy to navigate.
After creating my account on Twitch, I turned on my Xbox One and downloaded the Twitch application off of the store. Once downloaded, it had to connect my Xbox to my twitch account, which I did by entering a code that showed up on my Xbox into a box at twitch.tv/activate. After that, set up was simple. The only problem I ran into was my own fault, as my internet connection was too slow to stream until I kicked everyone in my house off of their computers. The internet connection is often a problem in my house. I streamed two games – Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Batman Arkham Knight. Since it was my first time, I did not gather any audience, which means I did not get the full experience. But, I did have a ton of fun. Below are my two Twitch streams!
Since I am extremely new to this platform, I believe that I could not understand all the positives and negatives of streaming, as I have no followers or friends that also use Twitch. Instead, I reached out to a very popular, well known, and talented female gamer named Trisha Hershberger. I first heard of Trisha a few years ago, when she started hosting for the YouTube channel SourceFed, which posted short videos about all different types of news. Trisha was almost always covering gaming news, which included visiting popular tech conventions and playing the newest games and systems. Trisha eventually left SourceFed to pursue other interests and create her own production company. She now spends much of her time creating content for her Twitch channel. A great example of her bubbly personality while streaming can be seen here.
She does a wonderful job interacting with her audience, as well as showing off the best parts of the games she plays. I was lucky enough to correspond with her over email to ask her about her experience as a female gamer and her opinion on the future of gaming. Below is my Q&A with the lovely Trisha Hershberger.
Q) Do you feel as though being a woman makes joining and being accepted in the gaming industry harder? Have you had any experiences with that?
A) I feel that being anything other the traditional gamer stereotype makes being a part of the gaming industry harder. Whether it’s because someone is the wrong age, race, or gender, anything “other” is seen as an outsider and is automatically less welcome. Harsh comments, false judgments, and constantly being asked to prove oneself, are all par for the course for anyone who is not a young, white, slightly awkward male. Statistics show that the modern gamer is both male and female, comes from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and middle-aged, but you would never know this from conversations that occur within the community.
Q) As technology becomes more advanced, gaming has become more social with platforms such as Twitch. What are your opinions on Twitch and streaming as the next “norm” in gaming? How do you think it will change the industry, if at all? Does being a female make using Twitch more difficult because of gender harassment?
A) I love Twitch. I think it’s an incredible platform for gamers to be able to showcase what they love about games and for viewers to find really fun content. It has already changed the industry in many ways. There has been a shift from video game “reviews” to “Let’s Plays” and from watching pre-recorded content to live. Yes, that live interaction does invite organic communication, both good and bad, but I think twitch is set up very well to allow broadcasters to build their own communities the way they want. As a streamer, I can ban certain words from chat and appoint moderators to take care of anyone who enters the stream to cause trouble or harass me or others. I really love my twitch community.
Q) How did you start your interest in gaming? Did people discourage you when you were younger? How did you get over that obstacle?
A) I fell in love with video games from a very young age. I was a bit of a loner and not very athletic. Video games allowed me to go on adventures by myself from the comfort of my own home and that was incredible! My parents were reluctant to encourage my gaming, because they felt I should be reading or playing outside instead, so my first console (NES) was also the last they purchased. At that time, I started playing games on my PC, which I needed for school anyway 🙂
Q) What do you personally think the future of gaming is going to be like? Is VR the new normal, and do you think it is getting easy for women to jump into such a male dominated field?
A) The future of gaming? Hard to say, although I do not think it will be VR. While VR is incredibly fun, I believe it will be like 3D tvs and movies, a fun accessory for those who can afford it, but never necessary. I believe we’ll see a lot more games that teach us through experience. Is it easier for women to jump into this field? Everyone who is outside the norm, who makes a name for themselves gaming, is helping pave the way for others to come.
As you can see, Twitch is a fantastic place to form and interact with your fans, friends, and community. It can be tailored to fit your individual needs, as well as record your livestreams in order for you to share later. Twitch is as addicting as social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter – it allows gaming (a stereotypically lonely activity) to become a rewarding, social interaction. Twitch is the first gaming addition I have used that held my attention and that I am excited to use again. Social gaming is definitely the future of gaming.