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The Mental Impact of Streaming on Twitch

I’ve been streaming on Twitch since before it was even called Twitch, back in the days of when it used to be Justin.tv and my time on the site has had its ups and downs. There are many things people don’t ever really tell you about Twitch and especially the mental impact it can have on those of us such as myself that stream on the platform. I want to say first and foremost that I am not a mental health professional so please, don’t take this as advice or the like.

Ever since the early days of when I would stream on Justin.tv back in 2009 when I started doing a late-night chill stream where I played music (back before anyone cared about DMCA) I noticed myself always being concerned with my viewer count, a number that tends to always stare you right in the face when streaming that shows you exactly how many viewers are currently watching your stream, and always giving myself some anxiety about how I can make my stream that much better.

The Twitch Streamer Dashboard that every streamer sees while live.

Even now, I still do this from time-to-time, because it’s those very same numbers that drive me to want to do better and be better and it’s even more so those same numbers that have caused me great depression or thinking that I am not enough or am not good enough of a streamer or not even an interesting person. It’s this and many other reasons that I will explain in this article why streaming on Twitch and other streaming services can be very taxing mentally.

Most of it has to do with your own personality and sometimes, you feel like you have to go as far as change it and be someone else entirely which can cause some mental distress. For some channels, such as MANvsGAME, someone that has been streaming since the early days of JTV, it’s the desire to play video games without being spoiled all the while struggling with his own mental health issues. There is also the feeling as if your content isn’t enough especially since a lot of people pay to be a subscriber to your channel, it can be hard to even take breaks or even a vacation due to people wanting to know what’s going on in your life all the while you simply want to try and keep your own private life away from your streaming life.

Popular Twitch streamers such as MANvsGAME have been public about their struggles with mental illness alongside of how streaming itself impacts their mental health.

Many of these things can be extremely hard for any streamer to do and for anyone that says that streaming is an “easy” job, you’re very mistaken. I used to think that streaming was as easy as sitting in front of a camera, hitting a button to go live, and playing, but as I got more and more into going live, I began to notice just exactly how hard it can get. Sometimes I don’t always want to sit in front of a camera for 5-8 hours at a time and currently I don’t, but I can’t imagine being a very popular or partnered channel where you are obligated to stream for so many hours a month or need to make sure you’re streaming enough to keep your livelihood intact.

Streaming is so much more than hitting a button and playing a game or whatever else you plan on doing for your audience. For myself, I have to make sure I have my lights in a proper setup, that my camera is functioning properly, that my stream has an appropriate title as well as making sure I set aside the time so it doesn’t conflict with anything else going on in my life and at the moment, I can get away with a lot of that since our channel isn’t partnered so we don’t have the obligations.

I will say that for anyone venturing into streaming, do it for you and for the right reasons, whatever those may be, but be prepared for the mental game of streaming on places like Twitch or even YouTube because one day you may have only 4 viewers and the next you might get a raid and end up having over 1,000, is that something you can easily prepare yourself for? I’ve had a lot of fun streaming over the 10 plus years I’ve been on Twitch and while I may not be as successful as some, I can say with certainty that I’ve enjoyed the moments I’ve had while trying to make sure that I am mentally prepared for any opportunities that come my way and even that amazing moment when I do get raided with a huge audience.

By Brian Daniels

Brian Daniels is the Owner/Editor of The Domain and has had the pleasure of covering the gaming industry as well as reviewing many different conventions for over ten years. Brian also has been podcasting for the same length of time on such shows as The Dragoncast and The Domain's very own podcast, The Next Level. Brian is also a huge gamer and loves collecting anything related to gaming.

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