how the “gamers platform” opened up to new communities


When Prime Minister Jean Castex was invited by France Télévisions journalist Samuel Etienne to his Twitch channel on Sunday March 14, the format was to resemble an interactive chat between the head of government and viewers, ping-pong style of questions and answers . But very quickly, the viewers, the English word for the spectators on the platform, regretted in a flood of comments that the exchange initially planned looks too much like a press conference.

“Why come to Twitch to have the same speech and dodge all the questions?”, asked Hirsoz in particular, a viewer. “LThe exchange is not spontaneous and remains very anchored in the codes of the TV … The Twitch format requires more flexibility and less wood language “, da_bouh commented. According to Internet users, the Prime Minister therefore failed to change his speaking software to address the 100,000 spectators connected live that evening – a huge audience score on the platform.

Screenshot of the chat with Samuel Etienne and Jean Castex on Twitch. & Nbsp; (Twitch.)

To understand Twitch, you first have to backpedal a decade back. Launched in 2011, this video streaming service is primarily intended for esports enthusiasts. Video game competitions are in fact broadcast on the platform and these live streams are gradually attracting millions of enthusiasts. In 2011, it was “the platform for gamers”, a place to meet and share our common passion, talk about the game in question and follow our favorite influencers in the field “, testifies Frédéric “Torrix” Boy, president of the Lausanne Esports club.

“If we simplify, on the one hand there are competitive esports players with a scene very focused on the broadcasting of tournaments, and on the other those we call” variety streamers “”

Samuel Coavoux

researcher at Orange Labs

Over the course of the 2010s, Twitch will open up to new viewers and videographers (the French name for streamers, these users which animate direct filmed), who will meet there to discuss video games in the broad sense, then themes a little further from esport. “Twitch has become something plural. There are several large communities. The so-called ‘variety streamers’ are not recognized for their talent as a player, but more for their quality of animation. They have an audience. more diverse “, explains Samuel Coavoux, researcher in the Department of Social Sciences (SENSE) of Orange Labs and specialist in social platforms such as Twitch.

“We must also mention the category” Just chatting “, reserved for everything that is not the game. At the beginning rather anecdotal, it is more and more popular, since it brings together all the people on Twitch who are not not playing“, adds Yannick Rochat, researcher specializing in video games at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Video games, however, keep a central place. Twitch is categorized according to the games streamers are playing, which means you can start by choosing a game and only then choose a channel “, continues Yannick Rochat.

On Twitch, the principle is simple. A videographer talks live on his channel with viewers who interact with him through written comments that appear on the screen. But what are viewers on the platform? How do we address our spectators to do better than Jean Castex? “The most popular streamers invent references which then invest in other communities. Having a common digital culture is really essential on Twitch”, says Vincent Carlino, researcher at the Academy of Journalism and Media at the University of Neuchâtel.

Unlike the French Prime Minister, elected officials have thus succeeded in attracting the attention of viewers by discussing politics by aggregating codes of web culture. Maine-et-Loire deputy Denis Masséglia is passionate about video games and a Twitch user where he has had his channel for a few weeks. “Two years ago, I participated in a” Desert Bus “stream organized for the charity” Petits Princes “. You have to drive a bus that goes straight on a road in the desert. This is the game. simplest video in the world. And while I was playing, I fixed a Super Nintendo console while chatting with the spectators “, says the elected, president of the study group on video games at the National Assembly.

In the United States, the young Democrat MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rising star of the party, had seduced in the same way. On October 20, 2020, she invited Twitch users to come and role-play with her Among Us on its channel launched the day before. The success had been thunderous. More than 400,000 people responded to the meeting. American magazine Wired had underlined at the time that Ocasio-Cortez was far from the first politician to meet gamers where they are. “But the other politician streams on Twitch are, for the most part meetings (…) Ocasio-Cortez is playing,” was ecstatic Wired.

This is Twitch’s second truth. To convince viewers, you have to put yourself at their level. And there is nothing derogatory to say that. “When you don’t know Twitch, you don’t have to want to cheat. You need humility. Twitch is really built on human relationships.”, notes the deputy Denis Masséglia. “For me, the challenge is to succeed in saying that we come in a sincere way and that we are really interested in people. That’s what was interesting in Samuel Etienne’s approach. He spent 10 months. on the platform to understand how it works before launching your own channel “, comments researcher Vincent Carlino.

On the platform, bought for $ 970 million by Amazon in 2014, the essential quality to be a good streamer is to know how to speak to people with the same language as them. “You have to be someone accessible to who you can talk to in life. It’s not specific to Twitch, it was the same on free radio in the 1970s. It doesn’t have to be. to be an esports champion, but it is crucial to know how to speak well, to have interpersonal skills. You have to greet your spectators when you arrive on the chat and build an attractive show “, Samuel point Coavoux, author in 2020 of an academic article dedicated to streamers and entitled “A profession of authenticity”. With Noémie Roques, co-author of the study, they interviewed 18 videographers on their way of addressing their audience.

The most popular videographers are those who know how to both build a real proximity with their subscribers, while being very sharp on web culture or esport. Those who manage to bring the two together, like Ninja and Tfue, then get hot attendance figures. “exclaims Swiss researcher Yannick Rochat.

Long reserved for gamers, Twitch is now opening up more and more to new horizons like a social network. France TV notably hosted an evening dedicated to students simultaneously on France 2 and on its Twitch channel on Thursday March 18. The BFMTV channel also launched its channel. In his first stream the 3 of March, the head of the chain’s health service, Margaux de Frouville, answered internet users’ questions about Covid-19 and vaccination. The arrival of the news channel caused a lot of noise. Hundreds of viewers posted negative, and sometimes insulting, live comments saying they didn’t want BFMTV in their “ideal Twitch.”

“The video game community has been criticized a lot by the mainstream media, which for years have been pointing to addiction phenomena etc. It is therefore not a surprise to witness a backlash with the arrival of these same media on Twitch, even if the journalist had finally made a very good performance “, points out the deputy Denis Masséglia.

Traditional media, such as politicians, “can’t land on Twitch with their big hooves”, concludes Denis Masséglia. It is not enough to broadcast the same content as on television or to speak the same language as in meetings for the transplant to take hold. You have to know the community and know how to speak to him with transparency and proximity.


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