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Students use Twitch for social connection

Every day, sophomore Raj Bapat uses Twitch, a popular video live streaming service, to stay connected with his friends, most of whom he’s never physically met. Bapat said using the platform provides him with a break from the monotonous quarantine life.

With the country shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic, many young people are hopping on their Xboxes, PS4s or computers to play video games to stay virtually connected with their friends.

According to the Business Insider, the number of streamers and viewers on Twitch, a popular game streaming platform, spiked from about 1.1 million viewers before quarantine to 2.5 million in early May.

While many gamers join streams to watch the gameplay, sophomore Max Vroemen said he enjoys watching streams for their social aspects. Isolated from the outside world, students like Vroemen have turned to technology as a way to socialize, using Twitch to help connect with each other.

Vroemen said he often hops on streams to talk with friends or make new ones and said he is using Twitch about three hours per day during the quarantine.

“I prefer Twitch over YouTube because I can chat with my friends and the streamer,” Vroemen said.

Vroemen said he also likes that Twitch viewers can ask the streamer to play different game modes or use different weapons to increase viewer engagement.

“Viewers who watch for long periods can also acquire points that can be redeemed to, for example, force the streamer to complete certain challenges like using a bad weapon.

“We have this small community of regular viewers,” Vroemen said. “I’ve become friends with many other viewers.”

The tight-knit community created with Twitch is a big reason why many viewers hop on day after day for hours, according to Vroemen.

“A few other friends and I go on the same stream, and we joke around and have fun with the streamer for a couple of hours,” Vroemen says.

Other viewers, however, just want to see the gameplay. Hidden under his online alias, Bapat said he also watches streams on Twitch.

“I enjoy the gameplay and sometimes I play with the streamers,” Bapat says.

Using Twitch, some viewers occasionally stream snipe or attempt to join the same match as the streamer. Some stream snipers intend to target or ruin the streamers match while others have no ill intent.

“Stream sniping is really fun because I get to actually be on people’s stream and play with the streamer,” Bapat says.

Twitch has seen rampant growth over the quarantine, as it offers a platform for friends and strangers to connect. The community fostered within Twitch has provided an outlet for people trapped in their homes to congregate and discuss interests in the gaming world.

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