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Meet a man from Alabama who plays video games for a living

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Late Thursday morning Chad is at work doing what a lot of people do for fun when they’re not at work. The Fort Payne native and Auburn resident plays a video game. Chad is a content creator on Tic, the game-centric live streaming service. For privacy and security reasons, many Twitch creators do not disclose their full names.

Chad stream as Digital champion, about five hours from Monday to Friday. He primarily plays the baseball video game “MLB The Show”. Big fan of Auburn University, the uniforms of his team “The Show” are black with an orange and blue “DC” on their jerseys.

If you haven’t played a baseball video game since the Nintendo NES, today’s games look so realistic they’re almost deepfakes. Today, Chad’s “The Show” team play against a team called Joe Buck Yourself, named after polarizing sports reporter Joe Buck.

Chad is better than decent on “The Show”. But being a Twitch creator / streamer is more than playing a video game. At least half is personality. Chad’s Twitch vibe? A downhome, irreverent and loud sports fan. “I tend to yell a lot and stuff like that,” Chad said during our Zoom video chat.

He wears an Atlanta Braves cap and speaks in a drawl that is now part of his brand. Her Twitch bio boasts “the sweetest country accent on Twitch.” You probably have a friend, relative, neighbor, or coworker that Chad will remind you of.

During his Twitch streams, Chad tries to hit four seam digital fastballs. Chase the flyballs to the warning lane. Paint the corners. He also lets fly F-bombs while bemoaning the shortcomings of “The Show”. He reflects on actual baseball news, the limitations of Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, and Chad’s ATS picks this weekend.

“Strange as it sounds,” Chad says, “for some people to watch someone else stream video games, it’s a wild little tangent of entertainment. And so you have to do what a TV show does. TV You are sort of running a four hour TV show.

In television and in the movies, a Twitch streamer is often described as a talking tween, mowing down opponents in a first-person shooter, occasionally stopping to yell at mom for taking too much time with them. cupcakes. But Chad is 38. He has a real life, a wife, children and a house. And it only streams sports video games on Twitch.

“Sports games allow you to create a little more of a close-knit community of friends,” says Chad. “You all share a passion for sport, whatever the sport. So I think a lot of times people find camaraderie in that. He started on the platform about three years ago, broadcasting the hit NFL football game “Madden”. He moved on to “The Show” maybe a year ago.

Chad, a native of Fort Payne and a resident of Auburn, streams live on Twitch under the name. Digital champion. (Courtesy of DigitalChampion)

Chad broadcasts from a home office equipped with orange and blue acoustic foam behind the desk he’s playing from. Objects visible behind him include a large Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, miniature “Dr. Qui” TARDIS, and a framed Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey.

Chad’s office supports three video monitors, as well as a microphone, broadcast-type boom, and other production equipment. His favorite game console is a PlayStation 5. Nearby is a fridge stocked with G Fuel, an energy drink marketed for gamers and esports athletes.

When he started streaming, Chad was sitting in a chair specially designed for video games. But it didn’t work. Now he’s saying, “I’ll never sit on a gaming chair again. Office chairs are where they are.” Chad hasn’t suffered any hand injuries yet from prolonged use of the gamepad. But he jokes, “I got so mad at a game my wife thought I was going to blow a valve or Something.”

A mounted camera records a video of Chad as he broadcasts his gameplay. On the stream, this video is on the side and smaller, picture-in-picture. Mixed under the audio of Chad’s commentary, a playlist of classic rock songs from bands like Cheap Trick, Metallica and REO Speedwagon. When he plays the video game “The Show” his favorite player is Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. On “Madden” he is Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.

Tic

Chad, a native of Fort Payne and a resident of Auburn, streams live on Twitch under the name. Digital champion. (Courtesy of DigitalChampion)

Chad’s opponents on Twitch are chosen at random, by level. So unlike real sports, there are no heated Iron Bowl-style rivalries. You also cannot hear the sound of the other player he is playing against.

There is, however, friendly competition between the creators of Twitch, over who has the most viewer subscriptions. Chad says, “You always want to find a way to refine something or add something to your feed, so that you can get your numbers out there. All the time, you are working to change things.

During Chad’s feeds, there is a chat feed, where he receives messages from his audience and notices of new subscribers. He regularly engages with these comments and gives cries. The viewer experience is like a class encounter with a college roommate who also revere Chris Berman and Sam Kinison. “If it’s boring,” Chad said, “no one will watch you. “

Twitch was launched in 2011 and is based in San Francisco. The company now employs around 1,800 people worldwide. In the early days of Twitch, games like “World of Warcraft” and “Call of Duty” were popular, but esports titles like “StarCraft 2”, “League of Legends” and “Street Fighter 4” really generated some numbers. streaming.

“Console games have taken longer to hit the charts,” Twitch Community Productions Manager Marcus Graham said via email. “Not because they weren’t popular, but because the technology needed to deliver games to console was still quite difficult and expensive to make. As so-called capture technology improved, console games like “Fortnite,” “Call of Duty,” and “Halo” took off on Twitch as well.

Like many forms of home entertainment, the use of Twitch has increased during the pandemic. According to a company representative, the Twitch community watched more than 1,000 billion minutes on the platform in 2020, up from 600 billion minutes in 2019. More than 13 million people first streamed on Twitch Last year.

The Twitch creator community is huge. More than 26 million channels were put online in 2020, according to a representative of the company. Some of the more well-known streamers include creators with names like Pokimane, Ninja, Myth, SypherPK, and LIRIK. Pokimane has over 8 million followers on Twitch. Some of his recent streams have drawn close to a million viewers. “A year and a half ago, I insisted on chemical engineering exams”, Pokimane says in a video on his Twitch page. “And now I play video games for a living. “

The name Twitch is derived from the lexicon of video games. “A ‘twitch’ shot,” Graham says, “is usually a shot that requires incredible hand-eye coordination and reaction speed, which is always visible when watching some of the top players live on Twitch. “

For its first five or six years, Twitch was mainly devoted to video games. But the content is expanding. Twitch channels now also feature musicians, travel guides, visual artists, talk shows, live role-playing games and more. There’s a grandma on Twitch who reads stories for viewers. There’s even a feed where viewers can feed ducks and chickens on a farm through cat controls.

What has remained constant, Graham says, is community: “Every creator on Twitch will tell you, the community that they’ve built or are in the process of building is the most important aspect of success and one of the main reasons they keep broadcasting and creating. “

Some creators, like Chad, are able to make their community a career. Graduating from Fort Payne High School in 2001, Chad says he owned a shipping company franchise before working full-time with Twitch about six months ago. Even before he went all in, he was broadcasting on Twitch for about 20 hours a week, after his 40-hour dispatch workweek.

He says he is asked “Is this really your job?” Frequently by other people. “It’s something that I found a niche in,” Chad said, “I think I’m pretty good, where you can make a pretty good income from it.”

He readily admits that playing video games and talking for a living is “a very strange profession.” Still, he says, “It’s like I’m telling people all the time: it looks really easy and it looks really fun, but it isn’t.” Noting that his subscribers pay $ 4.99 per month, he says, “You have to give someone entertainment and value content to spend money like that.” For context, $ 4.99 is also the monthly cost of Apple TV +. And a Hulu subscription only costs a dollar more, $ 5.99.

When Chad isn’t streaming – or watching the Braves, Auburn, or Pats games – he usually spends time with the family. He does not yet put the controllers in the hands of his children. But he says that recently his three-year-old daughter started watching “Mario Kart” videos on an iPad all by herself. “I thought it was crazy, she got that.”

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