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Why is Twitch.tv is an internet culture?

Culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, language, behaviors, rules, and rituals of a particular society or group of people. When we look at internet culture, it is a culture that only pertains to the internet.  Twitch.tv, being an online streaming platform, creates a culture on the internet by having people group up and watch a single streamer play his video game. These viewers can discuss with each other or even with the streamer using the chat function. One of the most common behaviors of streamers at Twitch.tv is that they use a webcam to show their face and emotions. It is almost expected for a streamer to have that when watching a stream.

However, the actual culture of Twitch.tv is not so much the viewers discussing with each other, but the streamer's interaction with the viewers and vice-versa.  Viewer to viewer discussion never happens since the chat is usually clogged with spam.

Twitch spam
An example of a streamer's unmoderated chat being clogged with spam.

Because of this, the streamer usually sets the chat to subscriber-only mode which makes it so that only subscribers who pay $4.99/month to the stream only have access to the chatbox.

One of the cultures of Twitch.tv is thatt the streamer must interact and entertain the viewers. He/she is in constant pressure to appeal to the viewers by making his gameplay interesting or by using comedic actions to entertain the viewers. Why?

Let's look at the biggest incentive in why a person would want to stream their games and keep their viewers.

Money
If a streamer gets enough viewers consistently, he/she can partner with Twitch.tv and be paid $2.50 per subscriber a month and $3 for every 1000 non-subscriber viewer that watches the streamer's ads. Not only that, a streamer can receive donations from many of his viewers. However, a streamer can only be paid by Twitch.tv if they are able to make a contracted partnership with each other.  Streamers can only be partnered with Twitch.tv by consistently having 500+ concurrent viewers and regularly broadcasting at least 3 times a week.

Huge donation button
A streamer with a huge donation button below the stream.

Many people have the dream to make a living off of simply playing games and the more viewers, the more money is to be made.  This dream comes true for many streamers such as Summit1g, Sodapoppin, and Lirik.  They can reach from 15,000 - 50,000 viewers consistently and make a living off of streaming from Twitch.tv.  These streamers have a schedule laid out for them to stream at certain times and day making it seem like a television program.

From this you can see that the general culture at Twitch.tv are a bunch of streamers constantly entertaining its viewers with their gameplay and commentary for money. As for the viewers, they decide whether the streamer is worthy of their attention.

But let's look deeper into the culture of Twitch.tv. Twitch.tv mimics a television in that each streamer has a channel. Think of it this way, the URL to a channel is where you watch a stream.  A viewer tunes in on a streamer's channel to watch their stream and each channel differs from others because each streamer has their own personality and methods to entertain their audience.  Viewers who like the streamer's personality, gameplay, and commentary are likely to keep viewing the streamer's channel and perhaps subscribe (for $4.99/month) to the channel as one subscribes to a channel on cable/sattelite TV.  Because of this, we have the viewers splitting into different groups by viewing different channels based on the streamer's content and personality.  This creates a culture within a channel or stream.  With each channel differing in content and types of viewers, we find a variety of different cultures on Twitch.tv.  Think of it as a culture within a culture.  Twitch.tv creates a culture of a streamer to viewer relationship, while the streamer creates a culture or community based on the viewers he or she has. All streamers are different and the viewervbase of each streamer is different.

The different cultures are based around the streamer because he/she controls the content that is given to the viewer.

Here are the types of streamers on Twitch.tv.