For anyone who spends a lot of time watching Twitch, you’ll have no doubt been exposed to some of the slightly more negative things that the platform has to offer. For instance, in the past year alone there has been a massive surge of hate raids against streamers, which on the whole have been mostly targeted towards specific groups. Twitch added over three hundred tags last year for streamers to place under their stream titles, as a way of letting viewers know what their stream is all about. People would use bots to spam hate in any streams that were tagged with pretty much anything to do with diversity, be it race, sexual orientation or gender.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not unexpected on the platform. The culture is certainly improving but it still has a long way to go, and things like this only give Twitch a bad reputation in the wider mainstream world.
For all its pitfalls however, I firmly believe that the people and communities within it are mostly good people that just like watching content, playing games and enjoy the sense of personability that comes from the streamer/chat dynamic.
So, with that said, I think instances like these hate raids often cause people to undervalue the potential that Twitch has as an avenue for positively impacting the world, and therefore I thought I’d highlight a few of the genuinely amazing things that creators have done with the platform, as a way of demonstrating the good that it can do.
GCX (formerly known as Guardian Con)
The Gaming Community Expo is a yearly in person event that celebrates games whilst raising money for charity. It used to be called Guardian con and was founded within the Destiny community, by the likes of KingGothalion, Dr.Lupo and Professor Broman.
It has since changed its name and grown exponentially in size, but to give an idea, in 2019 alone they were able to raise over $3.7 million for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital all in one weekend. It’s a really great example of how much power streaming holds in terms of charitable efforts and is something that hopefully we see much more of in the years to come.
The Austin Talent Show
AustinShow has been a creator on the platform for a very long time, but used to stream under a different name, providing a very different (much more degenerate) type of content than he does now. These days he is a part of 100 Thieves and has been hosting shows with a much higher production quality.
He has started to blur the lines with traditional media slightly, with perhaps one of his biggest successes being his talent show. Over a series of streams, he has a variety of smaller streamers and artists perform on the show, for the chance of progressing and eventually winning a cash prize.
This obviously has a lot of entertainment value but primarily it’s great for smaller creators and artists out there, like runner up ARIatHOME, because they can use it as a platform for gaining notoriety and growing their communities. It also takes place in a setting that is a lot more casual and down to earth than most mainstream shows of this nature and it gives people with genuine talent a realistic opportunity to get themselves recognised.
GDQ (Games Done Quick)
Games Done Quick is a semi-annual speed running event, held in support of various charities including Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It is probably the longest running charity event on the platform and has managed to raise over 34 million dollars to date.
Effectively, viewers tune in to see some of the best speed runners in the United States play through various different games, whilst a member of their group commentates over the gameplay and an announcer for the event periodically reads out any recent donations.
They hold the event twice a year, with the upcoming GDQ being held this summer. If you want to give it a watch, you can find their Twitch and any further information on their website.
The Music of Twitch
One of core things that makes Twitch such a unique platform, is the inherent sense of community that comes along with it. It can be an experience that’s akin to watching your favourite celebrities but then also simultaneously being able to interact with them and the members of their community.
This whole dynamic results in a space that is full of different memes, references, and copious amounts of music. 2020 was perhaps the biggest year for music on the platform, and with it came one of the best celebrations of content on the platform: The Music of Twitch 2020. A creator by the name of Koaster produces yearly compilations of the most popular songs on Twitch, performed by himself and his friend Sordiway.
Not only are the arrangements a testament to their talent, but they are also an incredible celebration of all the different creators on the platform. It’s full of music from a wide variety of communities, so viewers are very likely to see and hear some of their favourite memes and songs performed by the duo. Even though to some it might seem trivial, to those that are a part of the Twitch sphere, it’s not only exciting but is also truly heart-warming to see such niche references and pieces of music compiled and performed in such a profound way.
By bringing such a variety of individual songs together in one place, it also exposes different communities to each other’s music, which I think is a very meaningful and positive way of bringing people on the platform together.
Maya Higa and Alveus
Maya Higa is probably the most shining example of how Twitch can be used for good. She started streaming back in 2019 and has since grown one of the biggest communities on the platform. Things started off with her doing falconry streams where she would try and raise money for different charities and educate people on animal conservation. She then gained popularity from a multitude of things, namely her conservation podcast, her appearance on a local news channel and also the traction that her clips gained on a popular twitch subreddit, LivestreamFails.
After a while she got to the point where she was able to raise over $500,000 in order to build her own wildlife sanctuary for endangered species and exotic animals. With this she formed Alveus, a non-profit organisation that functions as a bridge between animal conservation and the online world of Twitch.
By using the variety of endangered animals at the centre as ambassadors for learning, she not only does an incredible amount of tangible good for wildlife conservation, but also manages reach an audience that would never normally be exposed to the issue in such a direct way.
She often streams herself looking after the animals, with other creators sometimes joining the stream, and also regularly hosts organised educational streams. The fact that she has managed to expose such a large amount of people to such an important issue, many of which are a younger demographic, is exactly the kind of thing I think Twitch can be utilised for. And simply the fact that in one stream, she was able to raise enough to build an entire wildlife sanctuary, demonstrates in her own words that Twitch is undoubtedly “an untapped reservoir for doing good”.
Pearce is a recent masters graduate with a passion for games. He thinks they can be seen as a form of art, conveying stories and narratives that can have an immense impact on players. Outside of game design, he has an interest in Twitch, music and animals.