Edinboro University students form new communities while livestreaming video games

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 at 5:55 PM

The internet has provided many platforms for people to get their messages across. Some people write for blogs or post to Facebook like it’s their job. Some tweet religiously or constantly update via YouTube.

Others stream themselves playing video games.

Twitch.tv was launched in 2011 as a spin- off of Justin.tv. It’s a site where professionals and amateurs alike can stream or record themselves playing video games. With the ability to hook into your Amazon prime account to subscribe to channels and get free bonuses, chat with anyone from around the world, watch streams, stream games or host other channels as a streamer, Twitch is rising, even at Edinboro.

Three university students regularly stream via Twitch: Malachi Schafer, a journalism major, Branden Montgomery, a dual journalism and digital media design major, and Ben Hladycz, a game design major.

Schafer has been streaming via Twitch for about a year and a half, with shows every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He streams a variety of games, including Call of Duty, Legend of Zelda, Minecraft and Pajama Sam. One can find his streams by his channel name on Twitch, “Mrgoldgames.”

Schafer described his live streaming as “a very expensive hobby.” His channel has a little over 1,100 followers, with 50 to 70 people who message him on Twitter or Facebook everyday about his streams. He is also able to make some money for his streams. He has a donation button on his page where you can give money directly to him, which Schafer’s site on Twitch states goes back into paying for “new games, college life and/or giveaways.”

“My name is very valuable to me and my community is very valuable to me, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them,” he said.

Hladycz started out as a YouTuber. He began streaming for Twitch as “Bread23AndButter” in the beginning of fall 2016 at a friend’s suggestion. He has also been part of creating live streams for charity events in the past, with Schafer and others.

Hladycz eventually found his computer couldn’t handle streaming games; instead he films himself and friends playing Dungeons & Dragons on Saturdays around 7 p.m. He doesn’t get any donations or have a very large fan base other than a few regulars.

“We don’t have a nice set or nice equipment or anything. People really have to follow along from the beginning to understand what we’re doing. It’s mostly for the three or four people who have been following along that we keep doing it,” Hladycz said.

Montgomery began streaming games in January 2017. Since then his channel, “Brandenmo1,” has around 154 followers and streams on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and sometimes Wednesdays, Fridays or Saturdays. Some games that he plays are Super Smash Brothers, Choice Chamber, Stardew Valley, Move or Die, Golf With Friends, The Sims and more.

His channel has a donation button shaped like a penguin graphic made by his girlfriend, which he says is strictly for putting back into streaming. His page explains that if you donate $5 you receive a custom penguin with an accessory. There are also penguin points that you can earn to redeem points; for instance, you can earn points for different things like every minute of streaming watched, following his channel, hosting his channel, auto hosting, and donating $1. Those points can be redeemed online at revlo.co/brandenmo1/.

According to Montgomery, a big part of Twitch is connecting with people all over the world. He has met people online from many different countries and states. With the internet and all its vast capabilities, people can connect in more ways than ever before.

Twitch has a variety of users. Some professional streamers have over two million followers, where some everyday streamers like Hladycz have only a couple. The fans are also a large part of Twitch. Justin or “WebbedButter1” is a viewer who has connected with Montgomery via Twitch, although he lives in California. He serves as moderator for Montgomery’s channel — someone who oversees chats, and bans people if they break the rules — and viewer to other channels.

“Getting to know other streamers is a big part of Twitch, and being friends with streamers is common, especially with smaller streamers. I can’t speak for streamers themselves, but I know streamers form emotional connections between viewers,” Justin said via chat on Twitch.

“By meeting and getting to know other viewers, it makes the whole experience more interactive for everyone. It’s always nice going into a stream, saying ‘hi’ to the regulars and the new people coming in, so I think being a part of the community and getting to know people is also very important,” said Justin.

Community is a big part of Twitch. Streamers would have no viewers if it weren’t for the fans. And fans would have nothing to watch if it weren’t for the streamers. With amateurs and professionals both on Twitch and thousands of channels to choose from, it gives its user base a multitude of choices.

Anna Ashcraft can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com. 

Tags: twitch

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