Almost every aspect of the Twitch experience is driven by quantifiable and publicly-facing values. We know how many people are watching any channel at any given time. We know follower counts. We know which streamers are Twitch Partners because of the checkmark beside their names. If you dig just a bit deeper, you can find pretty much every performance metric for any channel, right down to the breakdown of how many paid subs it receives each month.
The Twitch and broader live streaming community at-large embrace these types of quantifiable systems. Streamers flash on-screen notifications every time someone follows or subscribes to their channel. Viewers flaunt their streamer-exclusive emotes on other channels. Even outside of Twitch, many streamers proudly declare that they are Twitch Affiliates or Twitch Partners in their social media bios.
All of this is in service of creating an ecosystem where viewers and streamers become emotionally and financially invested in the platform. In large part, it works as Amazon intended. They make money hand-over-fist by displaying ads and by taking their cut of Bits and Subs. Meanwhile, many of its audience “bleed purple” to the point where most chose to stay on Twitch even when its top creator left for Mixer.
These systems can tell us a lot about the performance of a channel. However, there’s a ton of danger when we apply these channel-specific values to ourselves. It creates a lot of friction on Twitch in very overt and subversive ways that can be incredibly draining on one’s mental health.
At the beginning of April, the World Health Organization updated its stance regarding masks. While medical-grade masks should still be reserved for medical professionals, they also suggest that homemade face coverings could help minimize the spread of the virus. Ever since then, my wife and I have taken to covering our faces in public.
It’s…certainly an adjustment.
In light of recent events, I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of life. From those who lick toilet seats in front of a camera in order to chase social media stardom. To greedy corporations running non-essential businesses that force their minimum-wage workers to put their lives on the line. To certain government officials that would rather watch thousands of people die in order to revitalize the economy. To certain world leaders who defiantly stand opposed to safety measures in a foolish attempt to look strong. It’s clear to me that the value of life varies from one person to the next.
The way I see it now, the health and well-being of ourselves and others is everything. We should be doing everything we can to protect that. Everything else is inconsequential by comparison.
“Can we take a walk to the park?”
Having spent all of yesterday and most of today indoors, Steff asked me if we could go outside to shake off her cabin fever. Our area is not at a point where we’re quarantined to the house under martial law, so there were no legal ramifications for doing so. Though I’m probably more concerned than most, I agreed. We got dressed, walked to the park, played a bit of Pokemon Go, and went home.
Practicing social distancing is one of the best measures we have right now when it comes to minimizing the spread of COVID-19. However, the process is having adverse effects on the mental health of many.
When I have heavy thoughts in my mind or weighty emotions in my heart, I handle them by letting it out. Good or bad, I need to get that energy out of my system to stay sane. More than anything else, In Third Person is my mental and emotional release valve.
For me, the most recent streams were more than just an a means of flexing my block-stacking prowess or continuing a friendly rivalry. It was an opportunity to open up about my feelings regarding the current state of the world.
The In Third Person YouTube channel has been around for almost a decade. In that time, I’ve uploaded almost 1,000 videos. Some of my videos have been viewed thousands of times. There are a few pieces of content on there that I’m really proud of. Even so, I look at my overall effort there as my biggest failure as a creator.
There are numerous reasons for me being unhappy with it in its current state. I’ve spent years in my own head analyzing my mistakes and beating myself up for letting things get to this point. I’ve learned a lot based on my own experiences and through external sources on what it takes. Now isn’t the time to sit back and reflect anymore. It’s time to work.
One of the trendiest phrases in NBA jargon is “load management”. This is the practice of forcing healthy players to sit out regular season games as a means of keeping them fresh for the playoffs. Though it’s a touchy subject – as it devalues the NBA season while robbing paying fans of their opportunities to see the best players at times – we’re starting to see the potential benefits in this strategy. Case in point: Kawhi Leonard on the Toronto Raptors this past season.
Coming off the previous season where he only played 9 out of a possible 82 games due to injury, the Toronto Raptors put Kawhi on an aggressive load management program to keep him fresh. Instead of playing all 82 games, he played about 60, while skipping at least one of two games that were scheduled on consecutive days. Kawhi might have been visibly limping by the end of this past season, but he had enough gas in the tank to lead the Raptors to their first ever NBA championship. Though we’ll never know for certain, there’s a chance his body would have broken down prematurely had he played the season in full.
While I am not a superstar basketball player, applying the concept of load management to the way I manage In Third Person may not be a bad idea.
What started out as a retro game show-and-tell takes a turn when we begin talking about how we used video games in the past as an unhealthy means of dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety. Video games can be a positive coping mechanism, but in these particular cases, they weren’t. We then talk about our career anxieties today.
It’s a topic I’ve touched on before, but it was a very therapeutic chat with Muligoon. If you’re going through anything, please know that you’re not alone. There are people out there willing to help, whether it’s family, friends, or medical professionals. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!