Streaming games has emerged as a way for gamers to ease the isolation during Ontario’s lockdown since December.
Since hubs like bars, theatres, and gyms being closed have impacted social interaction, COVID-19 has placed a premium on things you can do in the safety of your home such as employment, education and entertainment.
Many have turned to virtual meeting places like Zoom and Skype to compensate for the isolation.
“Zoom is great for work and that’s what I use it for,” Twitch streamer Maher Tabit says. “But it’s not like being in the room with who you’re talking to.”
To help with this issue Twitch, a popular live-streaming platform, has emerged as a way for gamers to keep in touch with and play with their friends.
Lee Aden, another Twitch streamer who occasionally joins Tabit on his streams, credits being able to chat in real time during matches for why he and his friends enjoys steaming.
“Usually it’s a lot of cursing but it adds to the immersion,” Aden says. “If I couldn’t talk trash I would get bored.”
Streamers on Twitch are used to being on camera and performing. Twitch also has a chat function where those in the audience can communicate with the streamer and each other.
While this has always been the case, its value has increased for those feeling the effects of the social isolation brought about by the pandemic.
“I never thought I’d say that I talk to people in my chat more than some of my friends,” Tabit says. “I stream almost everyday for about three hours, so realistically it’s not as crazy as it sounds.”
And it isn’t just the chat that streamers interact with on Twitch. Some of the most popular games to stream, like Call of Duty, one of the games Tabit plays, are multiplayer games that draw in players from around the world.
“There are days I hear more Russian than English,” Tabit says laughing. “It’s cool, though.”
The online matches are short enough that incoming players don’t have to wait too long to start playing. The matches are more sprint than marathon resulting in alternating periods of high focus and intensity, with some time to cool down.
“The games are fast paced,” Tabit says. “And when the chat is active too it’s like an [interaction] overload!”
Streaming doesn’t replace social interaction but it helps to ease the burden of isolation for Tabit, Aden and countless others if the analytics on Twitch are any indication.