Whether you want to start watching streams on Twitch or just curious about what the platform is, it can be difficult to come to terms with why and how to watch streams on the gaming website. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to get to grips with Twitch than it first seems.
Let’s break down what Twitch is, why it’s popular, and how to get in on the fun for yourself.
What Is Twitch?
Twitch is a website that allows people to stream to people around the world. At first, the website only allowed video game-related content, but has since opened up to allow art, real-life exploration, and even chatting sessions with viewers.
A Twitch stream will have a host that runs the stream called the “streamer.” The streamer broadcasts content for people to watch. Twitch streams are mostly people playing a video game, but it’s not always the case.
To the right of a stream will be a chatroom dedicated entirely to that stream. Each chatter has to use a registered username before they talk, which the streamer can use to reply or mention specific members of the chatroom.
When a streamer wants to refer to every member of the chatroom as a whole, they will often use the collective name “chat.” This happens when the streamer wants to ask the community as a whole if they want to do something or if the chatroom is getting particularly rowdy.
Why Do People Watch Twitch Streams?
You may find it confusing as to why people want to watch other people play video games online. The famous American actor Terry Crews was initially baffled as to why his son would watch videos of video games and felt he was “losing his son” as a result… before he decided to join in on the fun.
If you’re in the same boat, here are a few reasons why Twitch streams get so popular.
Some Prefer the Streamer Over the Game
Sometimes people don’t flock to a stream to watch a specific game; sometimes, they visit because they like the streamer who’s doing the streaming.
Twitch has its fair share of funny, charismatic, and entertaining streamers that make their broadcasts a fun time. For some, this is enough to tune in and watch a stream, regardless of what game or activity that streamer is doing.
Some Want to Watch a Game Before Buying It
There is only so much a review can tell you about a game, so some people opt to watch someone else play it to gauge whether it’s right for them or not.
In fact, dropping into a stream has the bonus of being able to talk to the streamer about the game. If you’re concerned the story is a bit boring or the combat looks clunky, you can ask the streamer what they think and get an honest opinion.
Some Watch Because… It’s Fun!
No, really. If you’re stuck on what to put on while you get your work done, throw on your favorite streamer and get stuff done. You can choose to watch games like Valorant or Apex Legends, which are fast-paced and exciting to watch.
How to Watch a Twitch Stream
Watching Twitch is a lot better if you make an account, but you don’t have to in order to watch a Twitch stream. Just take note that we’ll be talking as if you had made one, so if you find a feature we cover to be unavailable, that may be the reason why.
Your best chance to see a Twitch stream for yourself is to visit the Browse page and scroll through the games being played at that moment. Pick a game, then choose a stream. It’s that simple.
It’s worth noting that going into a streamer’s chat with thousands of viewers can be a bit overwhelming, so try a smaller stream first.
How to Use Twitch
Twitch has been around for a very long time, which means it has its own terms that have evolved over the years. It can be overwhelming at the start, but it’s not as complex as you may first think.
What Happens When You Follow a Stream?
Below the stream, you’ll find a button that says Follow. If you click this, you’ll get notified when the streamer you’re watching goes online. It’s free to follow someone, so don’t worry about following as many people as you like.
By default, Twitch will send you an email or a notification on your phone when someone you follow goes live. If you don’t want this, be sure to click the bell icon after you follow to turn off notifications.
Otherwise, the streamer will appear on your Following list when they’re online. As such, you’ll find yourself visiting your Following page a lot to see who’s streaming.
What Happens When You Subscribe to a Stream?
Subscribing to a channel is different from following. It’s a little confusing because following on Twitch is the same as subscribing on YouTube, but subscribing on Twitch costs money and is optional for supporting the streamer. Subscribing on Twitch is more akin to YouTube’s channel memberships.
When you buy a subscription, you get access to the streamer’s exclusive emotes, which you can use on any channel on Twitch. You also get ad-free viewing and a chat badge to show off your loyalty.
Subscriptions start at $ 4.99 a month, of which half goes to the streamer, and half goes to Twitch. There are also tier 2 and tier 3 subscription levels ($ 9.99 and $ 24.99 a month, respectively) which give you more emotes.
It’s worth noting that if you have Amazon Prime, you get one Twitch sub every month with your subscription. You can also subscribe to Twitch Turbo to get site-wide ad-free viewing, and exclusive emotes. You can check out more in our guide to Twitch subscriptions.
What Is a Gift Sub?
A “gift sub” or “gifted sub” is when someone pays for someone else’s subscription. You can buy a person a subscription, or you can randomly dole out subs to the community in a batch (known as a “sub bomb”). Gifted subs don’t automatically renew once the month is up.
What Are Bits?
Bits are an official way to donate money to Twitch. They appear as little colored gemstones that change color depending on how much is being donated.
One bit equates to one US cent, and all of it goes to the streamer. However, when you purchase bits, you’ll notice that the price is slightly above one cent per bit—that little extra is Twitch’s cut.
What Is a Hype Train?
If enough people donate bits, subscribe, or gift subscriptions, there’s a chance that a “hype train” will trigger. This is a bar that fills at the top of the chatroom every time someone supports the streamer, and when it hits 100 percent, it goes up to the next level.
There are five levels in total, after which is an infinite “victory lap” where people can get the bar as high as they can without additional reward.
Once the train ends, everyone who subscribed, gifted a sub, or donated at least 100 bits gets an exclusive emote relative to what level the hype train reached.
What Is a Raid?
A raid is when someone who is going offline redirects their users to another streamer to help share the love. That way, the viewers have something to watch, and the target of the raid is exposed to a wider audience.
Before Twitch officially supported raids, raiders would copy-paste a “raid message” that announced where they were from. This way, the streamer being raided knew that a raid had arrived, as well as who sent them.
These days, Twitch notifies the chatroom when a raid arrives, and the streamer can set up a special stream notification that announced the arrival. However, the tradition of copy-pasting a raid message hasn’t died, so you’ll likely spot a raid by the message spam before you see the notification.
What Are the Little Faces Posted in Chat?
Twitch emotes are the website’s pride and joy. Their meanings and implications have ascended past the website and became web lingo across the world.
You can see all the emotes you can use on the Twitch Emotes website. The most popular emotes have a nuance to using them. For instance, Kappa is used when saying something sarcastic, PogChamp is when someone says or does something exciting, and Jebaited is when the streamer fools or was fooled by someone.
How to Stream on Twitch
If you like what you see with Twitch, why not get involved and become a streamer yourself? It’s free to do, and you could make a little extra spending money from streaming… if not make it your main job.
There are a few ways to stream on Twitch, but one of the more popular methods involves using either Streamlabs or OBS. Setting either one up takes a bit of work, so be sure to check out our guide on how to start streaming on Twitch using Streamlabs for more info.
Once you’re ready to go, be sure also to check out our tips on building an audience for a live-streaming channel. This will help you get the ball rolling for your new Twitch career.
You Can Host Watch Parties on Twitch Too
Twitch can be confusing at first, but once you’ve got the basics down, it’s easy to use and understand. Now you know how to watch and partake in Twitch streams, as well as how to set one up yourself.
Did you know that you can also stream or watch Amazon Prime videos on Twitch? It takes some minor setup, but it’s a fun way to pass the time with a community.
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