Video games are a beautiful thing. They bring us together, teach us valuable lessons about problem solving and perseverance, and even allow us to experience what it would be like to go on a vicious crime spree without ever putting real-life innocent people in harm’s way—if you’re into that sort of thing.
What isn’t a beautiful thing is being forced to share. What is it with video games these days never having multiplayer? Now, everything is online. You can only snipe that shit-talking 12-year-old from Indiana so many times before it gets old and you’d rather be firing on your buddy sitting right next to you.
When I was a young child, in the age of Super Nintendo, my older brother would create the illusion of a multiplayer experience by letting me “control” the sidekick monkey Abu when we played Aladdin, a decidedly single-player game. Turns out Abu didn’t do shit; he just followed Aladdin around, and I was sitting there pushing buttons like a moron thinking I was doing something. My brother was an asshole. Who wants to sit there and watch someone else play a video game?
Well, lots of people, it turns out. Welcome to Twitch.tv, the five-year-old website to which 9.7 million people flock every day to watch total strangers livestream their video gameplays online. Twitch presents itself as a kind of social net for gamers, claiming over 2 million individual users streaming not only their video game experiences for others, but also tutorials, tournaments (Did you know there are professional video game tournaments?), and even talk shows.
If the sheer size of the Twitch community isn’t enough to convince you it's a full-on movement, consider that Amazon purchased the site for nearly $1 billion in 2014. So what the hell is Twitch, anyway? Let’s dive in with a guide to the basics, from how to host on Twitch to how some people are making a living on the platform.