If the Twitch revolution has passed you by, you might want to get yourself up to speed. Twitch is an incredibly popular streaming platform on which users stream themselves gaming, chatting, and generally living. Gaming is the most popular part of Twitch by far, but it’s not the only part. There are plenty of Twitch streamers who aren’t interested in video games or don’t dedicate themselves entirely to this aspect of their lives.
One such subsection of Twitch is the IRL community. This group of people has been exponentially growing in number since last year. IRLers aren’t necessarily interested in gaming content, although they do occasionally play games too. Mostly, IRL users stream themselves simply living, pursuing alternate hobbies, or vlogging a la early YouTube. We’re going to take a look at the IRL community on Twitch and see what it’s all about.
Before we get started, a brief history lesson. Twitch began life way back in 2005 as justin.tv. The site was started by Twitch head honcho Justin Kan and his team after their previous project – online calendar Kiko – fell through. Kan decided that it would be a good idea to create a website on which his team could be seen simply living their lives 24/7. No adornment, no fuss, and no editing – just a live stream of Kan and everyone else at his company living and working.
Kan said his inspiration for justin.tv was the reality TV show Big Brother, which was extremely popular at the time. Reaction to his idea for a website was decidedly more mixed than the TV show, though. People didn’t love the idea of watching Kan and his team go about their lives, but they were interested in creating similar content about themselves. Eventually, Kan decided to open up justin.tv to allow users to create their own videos, and thus was Twitch born.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Twitch is now seeing a surge in popularity of “IRL” (in real life, in case you hadn’t worked it out) streamers. Users like thaButtress and sodapoppin regularly stream themselves doing things in real life. Whether it’s building miniature models, creating comedy skits, or just vlogging out in the real world, IRL streaming is taking off in a big way, and it’s probably because there’s a growing community of non-gaming folks interested in the streaming world.
Of course, IRL streamers don’t have to be non-gamers. Streamers like Pokimane and Reckful have a considerable following on Twitch for their non-gaming content, but they’re also well-known for playing video games (League of Legends in the former case and World of Warcraft in the latter). There’s something compelling about folks who juxtapose their real-life antics with what’s going on in their gaming lives. Pokimane and Reckful are both well worth checking out if you’re into IRL streaming.
The community isn’t without controversy, as most Twitch communities aren’t. Some streamers, including the aforementioned thaButtress, have said that Twitch doesn’t adequately support the IRL community. The claim is that “IRL” is too broad a category and contains too many disparate streaming categories to be considered a single umbrella term. Instead, Twitch should cater for these streamers by creating bespoke categories for what they do. Some steps have been taken to address this – the site introduced “Tags” last September to categorise content – but there’s still work to do.
In addition, popular IRL streamers like Trevor Daneliuk (Twitch name Hitch) believe that people think the IRL community is significantly more toxic than other Twitch communities. The gaming corner of Twitch isn’t without its difficulties, but Daneliuk thinks IRL streamers have a bad rep for getting content in a less savoury way than others do. This is a sweeping statement, but some IRL streamers have found themselves under public scrutiny after less-than-wholesome practices on the service.
So, if you want to become an IRL streamer on Twitch, what do you need? Well, just like with the rest of the platform, you’ll need a unique selling point. You won’t just be able to rock up to Twitch, start filming your life, and expect the followers to flock to you. Think about what you do as a hobby. Is there something unique that could be compelling to audiences? If not, could you pick something up that might attract people’s attention? Is your life interesting enough to vlog (it’s okay, ours aren’t)?
Once you’ve figured out an identity for your channel, you’ll need to gather the necessary equipment. Unlike gaming, IRL streaming on Twitch is often done using smartphones, so a powerful enough phone to handle constant streaming – as well as a generous data allowance – is necessary. As with the rest of Twitch, keeping a constant streaming schedule and engaging with your audience on social media are also great ways to shore up your viewer and follower counts.
In summary, then, IRL streaming is a fairly obvious but incredibly popular aspect of Twitch that isn’t showing any signs of going away any time soon. As long as there’s an audience for people just getting out and living their lives, IRL streaming will be popular. From niche content to simple vlogs, if you want to see it on Twitch, there’s a good chance it’ll be there in the IRL community. If not, then you’ve just identified a market that you can corner!