Watching other people play video games online is becoming big business. In 2019, people watched 9.8 billion hours of streams on Twitch.
Kevin, also known as Kelvinator on Twitch, is a full-time university student who works a casual job and streams 2 days a week. He mostly streams Team Fortress 2 and Dead by Daylight.
“I started streaming for fun. Over time, it became a creative outlet. I study cybersecurity and forensics, so there’s little to no space for creativity,” says Kevin.
In contrast to conventional work, streaming provides people with a flexible schedule. However, as a source of income, streaming does have its own challenges.
For Kevin, building a following was the biggest challenge in streaming.
“Streaming to one to three viewers with little to no chatter can be really soul crushing, but you have to push through that phase to build a community,” says Kevin.
Initially, Kevin’s audience was his friends and people who knew him in real life.
“It’s grown, and now I get a lot more viewers. The top three locations for where viewers come from are Australia at 51%, the United States at 17% and Canada at 4%,” says Kevin.
Another challenge is the money. For Kevin, whose primary focus is studying, streaming doesn’t provide a stable flow of income. The money can vary month to month.
In esports, where viewers are often a mix of new and old fans, shoutcasters fill a crucial role.
Shoutcasters are esports commentators. They make it easier for viewers to understand what’s going on in competitive games.
“You’re there to make the game better, just like in any form of sport,” says Mitch.
Mitch, also known as Conky, is a play-by-play shoutcaster for Counter-Strike.
“You need to provide entertainment for casual viewers and serious viewers. It’s a bit of a balancing act as to how in depth you get,” says Mitch.
According to Mitch, the best part of being a shoutcaster is the people.
“I get to go to any location, hang out with people who become close friends and get paid for it.”
Similar to streaming, the money from shoutcasting varies. Mitch can make up to $1,000 or $1,500 a month shoutcasting from home or at large studio events around the world.
However, there’s currently not enough work within Australia to be a full-time shoutcaster, so Mitch does it on the side.
According to Mitch, a successful shoutcaster needs charisma, a fundamental knowledge of the game and the ability to speak quickly and effectively.
For new streamers, Kevin highlights the importance of networking and having a schedule.
“Having a schedule gives viewers an incentive to come back to your channel,” says Kevin.