Vancouver gamers are finding new ways to connect in person through meet-ups organized around Twitch, the popular online streaming platform.
Clara Sia is a Vancouver-based indie game streamer who founded the Twitch Vancouver meet-up in 2015. Twitch is an online streaming platform, owned by Amazon, where users watch and interact with streamed content including video games, TV-show marathons, esports tournaments and more. An average of 15 million viewers tune into Twitch every day to watch their favorite streamers.
Twitch meet-ups give gamers, streamers and game developers a chance to socialize face to face. After the first Twitch meet-up was held in Vancouver, the idea spread and similar sessions are now happening around the world.
“It all started with Vancouver and I’m really proud of that. We were the meet-up the Twitch team looked to and modelled a lot of their official Twitch community meet-up programs,” Sia said. “We laid the groundwork for all of these meet-ups around the world.”
Gaming as a spectator sport
Vancouver’s role in the international gaming scene has grown in the past decade. In August, the city hosted the largest esports event in the world, The International, at Rogers Arena.
Peter Anders is a member of the University of British Columbia Dota2 team, a popular esports title, and a frequent Twitch user. He believes that the increased use of platforms like Twitch helps the gaming community grow and connect socially.
“I’m really happy that the community is growing,” Anders said. “The more the gaming community expands, the more attention and support it will receive.”
Twitch viewers growing by leaps
Twitch’s viewership has increased by 40 per cent so far in 2018. Major game developers like Riot Games, Valve, and Blizzard Entertainment are focused on making video games that can be enjoyed by spectators, just like mainstream sports.
“It’s more entertaining to watch a video game because they’re made to be flashy and it’s more visually appealing,” said Leo Zhang, a semi-professional gamer and member of the UBC League of Legends collegiate team.
Sia is proud of the local community, which she describes as warm, welcoming and positive.
“That for me is the definition of what a gaming community should be,” she said.
Twitch Vancouver’s next meet-up is scheduled to take place on Nov. 24.