It’s no secret that Twitch revolves around gaming. Youtube went as far as to make Youtube Gaming just to desaturate Twitch’s success in game streaming. Regardless of whether you’re watching a gaming channel, social eating, or being creative, there’s at least some culture of gaming held by all streamers and viewers. But there’s always an outlier. Twitch IRL, In Real Life, is simple on paper, but has proven to be the hardest category to pin down, sometimes going as far as to cause legitimate controversy that have challenged Twitch’s core philosophies.
A New Lens on Life
With audiences thirsty for personal information on those they follow, the IRL scene gives streamers a venue for satisfying them at their own pace and more variety in their streams. Unlike the requirements of other categories, IRL is medium based rather than content based. As long as streamers are filming themselves, they can present any type of content they like, so long as it fits within Twitch’s guidelines.
IRL also gives Twitch a wider reach when attracting new streamers, who may not be into the more gaming-centric aspects of the platform. Wanting to connect with audiences has existed far before gaming, and the newest generation of entertainers aren’t exclusively geeky. As Twitch’s culture moves away from being an additive to gaming culture, and instead becomes a full fledged identity, expanding the platform and attracting new faces benefits everyone, especially the long running streamers who rely on the legitimacy of Twitch to secure their futures in entertainment.
Friction with Innovation
Supply and Demand is one of the core aspects of any economy. By providing streamers more ways to stream for longer hours, the cost of that entertainment diminishes. The more streamers an individual user follows, the greater spread of money there is. It might seem like viewers have a set amount of money they are willing to spend in a given period of time, but realistically viewers will spend more money cumulatively if their time is divided into different communities. Twitch IRL doesn’t automatically create this change, but streamers who aren’t afraid of showing more of their personal life, and choose to stream for large stretches of time, will inadvertently increase the expectation of viewers.
Change is hard. With all new things, there are those who try to abuse the system. Twitch IRL has a small, but loud collective of streamers who use the platform, and its financial support, to justify socially deconstructive behavior. While filming illegal activities is against Twitch guidelines, these streamers get as close to those barriers as possible. Mainly, this revolves around harassing strangers and using their audiences to disable local businesses. While some may argue that these are regular risks in society, simply amplified by the number of people watching, the risk this creates should not be tolerated. As Twitch continues to revise their guidelines and crack down on those who abuse them, this problem will hopefully become increasingly fringe.
Giving streamers more ways to express themselves is fundamental to Twitch’s philosophy. As Twitch continues to revise their guidelines and increase their effort to make streaming as profitable as possible for streamers, the downsides to Twitch IRL will fade away. Here at StreamFluence, we’re huge fans of Twitch IRL. With our goal to help streamers make their passion into a career, IRL gives us a look into the lives of the streamers we both support and idolize.