My experience being a Twitch streamer

Back in 2017, I experimented with streaming on Twitch. This is my story.

All in all, the experience wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what I’d call fun either. It all started when I was playing Overwatch with AngryJerk.net Brothers Torbrex and Rogar. Whilst rolling and trolling, we lamented that not enough people got to witness our shenanigans. We tried doing AngryJerkDotNet TV streams, but those always failed because nobody watched them and it seems that other players have the innate ability to know when they’re on camera and stop responding to my hilarious trolling attempts. I wish you guys could have seen some of the shit I did, it was great. One time I pissed a guy off so bad by simply singing the song from Lambchop that his girlfriend had to step in. I spent the rest of the argument telling him that his girlfriend wouldn’t be allowed to speak out of turn if he converted to Islam. This shit never happened when the camera was rolling, fml.

So after some talk, we decided to go legit and see how much money we could net by being actual streamers. Which meant minimal to no trolling, and actually being a nice civilized politically correct person. So basically, everything AngryJerk.net isn’t. I created a new alias, and off we went into the world of Twitch streaming.

If you’re starting out, it’s almost imperative that you join a streamer group. We tried to build our fanbase for several months, meeting minimal success. Then I joined a group, and things started to pick up just a bit. I’m not going to name the group I was a member of, but I joined fairly early in their history. During my time with them, I watched their ranks swell. One of the perks of being in a group is networking, which any Twitch streamer needs to do if they want more than 1 or 2 viewers per stream. In a group of 500+ people, you’re bound to find at least a few friends and fans.

One of the biggest things I noticed is how supportive fellow streamers can be.  I would say that the group I was a member of was fairly supportive, at least towards me (many others have expressed the opposite to me though, so YMMV). Twitch makes it really hard for newcomers to get ahead (I’ll go into this in detail a bit later), that’s why you need a support network of fellow streamers. You’ll also beef up your follower count, which is somewhat important. The biggest way streamers support other streamers is by lurking.

Lurking is something that sounds stupid and lazy, but is actually really fucking important. The premise behind lurking is great for people like me, because all you have to do is keep a muted tab open with a stream running, and it boosts that person’s view count (which puts them higher on Twitch’s highly-flawed listing system) without you having to even watch them. As someone who has a hard time watching other streamers, this was a godsend because now I could still look like I gave a shit without actually giving a shit. Twitch keeps trying to do away with lurking though, because they’re a bunch of fucking assholes and want to protect their current top dogs from competition. While it’s better to have viewers actively chatting with you, lurking increases the chances of other viewers finding you. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s good if you want to give the illusion you care about the success of others with minimal effort.

During my time, I would stream games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Rocket League, Worms, Overwatch, Dead Rising, Cuphead, and even emulated SNES games. I was what they called a “variety streamer”, I didn’t stick to one set game. This kind of thing puts new streamers at a disadvantage, because people might enjoy you playing one game, but not another. It’s generally recommended that new streamers start out with just one game in order to build a following, then switch games later and lose a good chunk of their viewers. I had different regulars for Rocket League, different regulars for Overwatch (by far the most annoying and youngest crowd), and even regulars who tuned in solely for my Dead Rising run then never returned after that. It’s the nature of the beast.

One of the first lessons I learned as a streamer was that to truly get ahead you need to play shitty meme games. Whatever the latest hottest commodity was, most of the people in the streamer group I was a member of were all playing it. During my stint, that game was usually Fortnite. I can’t say that most of them didn’t genuinely like it, every time I watched one of my fellow group members they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Myself, I gave it a shot, it wasn’t for me. I don’t like the battle royale camp-to-win shit, I’m a run-and-gun in-your-face guy, which if you’re facing 99 other people is an impractical strategy. Because I ping-ponged around various other games, I didn’t really get to build as much of a following as I would have if I had just played Fortnite. And even then, you’re expected to be good at the game you main. I wouldn’t call myself “good” at any of the multiplayer games I play, maybe average. Nobody wants to watch an “average” Fortnite or Overwatch player, unless they have a great personality to make up for it.

One of the hardest parts for me was audience interaction. In order to be successful at all you had to interact with your audience, which meant keeping the chat open in my second monitor. Having to balance playing the game, having conversations with my co-hosts, and having conversations with my audience was a pain in the ass, and the fact that Twitch has a short delay doesn’t help very much. I’d verbally reply to something someone typed, they’d have to wait 5 seconds to hear my reply. Obviously this didn’t make for good conversation. Coupled with the abundance of people who felt that my chatroom was the perfect place to seek emotional support, it was a recipe for disaster.

On top of that, I had to dull my personality down significantly in order to meet standards on Twitch and the community I was a member of. If you’ve been following my site for a few years now, you’ll probably understand that, despite my use of racial and homophobic slurs, I’m not actually a racist or a homophobe. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate well to on-camera, especially when you’re constantly dealing with strangers from all walks of life. You never know who is watching. I wouldn’t use those words in every day conversation with people I didn’t know or have no personal connection with, it’s the same principle here. I have a friend who’s a lesbian, one time she rode up on a bike and I called her a “dike on a bike”. Because we’re friends, she knows that it’s not meant to disparage her based on her sexuality. Conversely, if some random person said that same thing to her, it would most likely be disparaging and offensive (and probably their funeral).

Emotional connections are key to determining intent and meaning behind words, and on Twitch you don’t have that same kind of emotional connection, so you run a high risk of offending someone. If you’ve been following my site for a few years now, you’ll probably understand that it’s not in my nature to care about offending people on the internet. Unfortunately, all it takes is one misconstrued 5 second clip of me calling someone a raging fucking faggot to completely fuck my life up. Twitch is full of SJW assholes just looking for the next thing to get offended at, I’d rather not have my face and voice plastered across the internet because a gay person happened to be watching when I called someone a faggot on Overwatch for picking Torbjorn on attack and didn’t realize that I was only trying to insult one person and not put down all gays everywhere.

I recall one time where I was playing Rocket League with a couple of other streamer buddies on Discord. A person who I had no idea had been watching randomly said in chat “Your friend is too loud. Bye.” That was it, no “Hey, just letting you know you might want to turn down your friend’s volume, it’s kind of high.” No attempt at conversation in the least, just a pointless criticism of a trivial issue without chance to remedy it. My first instinct (and as I found out later from AngryJerk.net Brothers Torbrex and Rogar, theirs too) was to tell him not to let the door hit his faggot ass on the way out and to try not to suck any dick on his way through the parking lot. Unfortunately, I had to bite my tongue and apologize while asking the other viewers if they felt it was too loud. The best I could do was randomly and sarcastically asking throughout the night if I was being too loud. It sucked not being able to speak freely, and my co-host and my moderator (both of which were fans of this website since its earliest years and great friends of mine) hated it too. It was hard going from being Angry_Jerk to being a politically correct appeasing normie, and one of the worst parts about being a streamer. If I were to ever go back to streaming, I would have to go back as Angry_Jerk, and short of using racial slurs I’d have no filter.

The viewers. This one is a very mixed bag. I mentioned before, different games attracted different types. Usually Overwatch would attract young teenagers, who were generally annoying and obnoxious. One kid would try to troll by copying and pasting rap lyrics, and saying that he was cutting himself. I let it slide for a while, then eventually I told Brother Rogar to warn him, then if he doesn’t listen ban him. He stopped for a while, I don’t even remember if we banned him or not.

I also attracted a guy who had some mental health issues. I’m fairly sure he was an autistic depressive. He wasn’t a bad person, he was just lost, and apparently felt the need to try to find himself in my stream’s chat. He would go on and on about whatever emotional issue he was dealing with at the time. I didn’t hate the guy, but man, dealing with him could be draining as all fucking hell. Try focusing on a game when you have someone griping about why his friends currently aren’t talking to him.

The best crowd of people were my Phantasy Star Online 2 viewers, who were always very helpful, laid back, and just all-around decent people (except for one, more on that guy in a moment). That whole community was great, and I’m kind of sad that community wasn’t bigger. I basically learned to play the game properly from viewers. Quite often I’d party up with them in-game and they’d help with quests or items or other stuff. It sucked that we ran out of things to do in that game, otherwise I would have streamed it all the time.

There was one guy though, we’ll call him Shiro, who ended up being a huge cunt. We first met this guy when uploading our PSO2 videos to YouTube. He gave us advice, and eventually watched us on Twitch, giving advice live as we played. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think we would have figured out how to actually play the game anywhere near close to properly. Eventually our friendship grew to other games, and Shiro even became a regular co-host alongside myself and Brother Torbrex. Aside from PSO2, we played Rocket League, 7 Days to Die, and Worms WMD together. Shiro was usually way better at pretty much everything we played together, but that didn’t matter much. At least, not to me.

What tipped me off to the fact that Shiro was a secret asshole was the fact that he would routinely give me shit for not being as good as him, even if it was my second or third time playing a game. This started out as playful chiding, like “Oh come on, how’d you miss that shot man?”, then over time grew to be aggressive and hostile. In particular, I remember playing Left4Dead2 for the first time with him and some others, and he did nothing but bitch at me (after setting the difficulty on Expert Mode, mind you) because I couldn’t keep up with him as well as he had liked. Even our other teammates were getting annoyed with him. I eventually fired back at him, live on stream, in my sanitized non-Angry_Jerk way by reminding him that this was my first time playing, he set the difficulty too high, and he needed to back the fuck off. He got frustrated and left to go play Dead By Daylight with someone else.

Eventually, Shiro got worse. He would go days without sleeping, then show up and behave irately. A few times our group ended up kicking him out of games or pushing him to ragequit because of his behavior. This culminated in him one day deleting everything, leaving our mutual Discord servers, and blocking everyone in our crew with no explanation. He then came back after a few weeks with no explanation, only to do it again a week later. I haven’t heard from him since, all I know is he apparently streams under a new name.

As far as other people went, I did meet some cool people in the group I was a member of. One in particular that stands out is a guy that we’ll call Adam. Adam was one of my favorite people to play alongside. While most of the other people in the group seemed intent on playing meme games with the intent to “get big” and become full-time streamers, Adam was more like me. He played what he wanted and he played for fun. I can’t remember a time where Adam ever got genuinely angry at anything or anyone, and if he ever was angry he certainly kept a great pokerface about it because I never picked up on it. No matter what game I played with Adam, it was always a fun time all around. We could be getting smoked 10-0 on Rocket League and still be laughing the whole time. Playing with Adam is one of the few things I genuinely miss about streaming. Last time I checked, he really doesn’t stream as often as he used to.

As far the rest of the group goes, I really can’t say too many bad things about them. They never wronged me during my time, I never saw them wrong anyone, and they seemed like they genuinely enjoyed playing their meme games like Fortnite and CoD: WW2. As I mentioned before, there were a few people that disagreed with me and felt that most of the people in the group were fake and simply trying to get ahead by playing meme games and putting on an act. While I can’t deny the meme games part was true (as I said, it’s hard to build a following if you don’t), I never had a bad experience with any of the group or its leadership, so I’ll refrain from bad mouthing them.

The worst thing I can say about the group is that they partnered up with a site that had been implicated in some shady shit. The founder, who we’ll call X, hasn’t given me any indication that he’s a bad person, so I don’t think his intent was malicious here. What I suspect happened was X didn’t do his research before accepting this partnership, and is now locked into a contract with G2A. Shame on X for not doing research on potential business partners before entering into contracts with them, and a big fuck you to G2A for promoting theft. Hopefully X has learned from this mistake.

Like I said before, Twitch makes it really hard for newcomers to get noticed. Their listing system lists streamers playing games in order of how many viewers they have at the moment. So if you happen to play Overwatch, you’re competing with thousands of people, and the top two or three streamers for that game have most of the viewers, usually in the thousands. Most people will either only watch the first page, or they’ll watch the back page to support small streamers with no viewers. The guy with 7 or 8 viewers is fucked, he’s buried in the middle of 30+ pages of Overwatch streamers. This is why networking and lurking is so important. Also, having and properly utilizing a Twitter account is a must. Using the proper hashtags and retweeters, you can usually bring in a few more viewers.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to get ahead on Twitch. You just have to be really good, and have plenty of free time. This was by far my biggest hindrance, and what led to me eventually quitting. Without a steady schedule, you decrease the chances of people coming back to your stream. I had to balance a 48 hour work week, a committed relationship, a social life, an exercise regimen, and a stream schedule. Half the time I was tired as fuck during my streams, which affected my performance greatly. I noticed that many of my fellow streamers were unemployed, and generally didn’t seem to have social lives outside of gaming. That’s not to say all of them were unemployed losers, I knew plenty who balanced work, family, and streaming just fine. But it seemed that streaming was more of a way of life than a hobby for a lot of these people, and that wasn’t a commitment that I was willing to make. At most I wanted some extra beer money each month, and I didn’t even make that much. Twitch doesn’t let you cash out your earning until you reach $100. After being a Twitch Affiliate for 6 months, I barely netted $60. I still haven’t cashed it out, and I suspect I’ll never actually see that money.

So in closing, my time on Twitch wasn’t as much of a waste as it was a failed expedition into the normie section of the internet. For someone with my boorish  and abrasive personality, Twitch wasn’t the best place. And while I did meet some cool people, there were plenty of autists and assholes to go around. Unless you’re a chick with big tits (in which case your odds of success on Twitch actually triple), a try-hard douchebag, or a wizard at marketing and networking, the odds of you finding any real success on Twitch are slim to none. If you’re a shut-in who spends most of his free time playing video games and you want to make some new friends, Twitch is a good way to meet new people as long as you don’t go into it caring about popularity.

Maybe one day in the future I’ll do sporadic AngryJerk.net Twitch streams again, but for now I’m gonna ditch Twitch.