In COVID times, interactive gaming a stream come true

Platforms Twitch, Mixer offer like-minded people chance to connect, build community based on shared interests

Junior Marios Petropoulos live streams on Twitch. Petropolous said he has streamed several games, including Valorant, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, Apex Legends, Phasmophobia, Among us, Dead by Daylight and Rocket League.

“I started streaming these games because I just happened to be playing these games already, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not stream them?’” Petropolous said.

Marios Petropoulos

Junior Marios Petropoulos live streams on Twitch. Petropolous said he has streamed several games, including Valorant, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, Apex Legends, Phasmophobia, Among us, Dead by Daylight and Rocket League. “I started streaming these games because I just happened to be playing these games already, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not stream them?’” Petropolous said.

Javier Vela, staff reporter

Live streaming is no longer the niche medium it once was. With platforms like Twitch, Mixer and YouTube allowing anyone to share themselves in an interactive way that other social platforms just can’t match, more and more people have ventured into the world of streaming.

So why stream? In a digital world so saturated with content and different platforms, what makes streaming so attractive?

The first time I streamed I met someone from the U.K., which was crazy. … It’s different from Instagram or Snapchat because you already have this common interest.””

— junior Grace Van Gorder

Two McCallum juniors have an answer. Marios Petropolous and Grace Van Gorder find that the appeal lies in the strong sense of community streaming provides. Both primarily stream live video game play-throughs, featuring their own commentary, and adjacent chats where viewers can interact. Twitch, the leading streaming platform the two use, also allows creators to stream their screen as they game, along with live reactions from a separate camera aimed at themselves, which adds a more personal touch.

Van Gorder, who began streaming just a few months ago, finds it appealing because it allows her to connect with other gamers at McCallum. In a year defined by isolation, Van Gorder values the community she has discovered and curated in such a short amount of time.

“Streaming has allowed me to meet and reconnect with a lot of people,” Van Gorder said. “The gaming community at Mac is super accepting and nice. I also find that people are very supportive of each other and their content. It’s really awesome, and as someone who wasn’t into gaming a year ago, it was almost like I found a little hidden community.”

Even though Van Gorder only recently picked up streaming, she took to it like a duck to water.

Van Gorder gives the double thumbs u before she starts a live stream. “Streaming has allowed me to meet and reconnect with a lot of people,” Van Gorder said. “As someone who wasn’t into gaming a year ago, it was almost like I found a little hidden community.” Photo courtesy of Van Gorder.

“A while back, I made a Twitch account and got it all set up,” Van Gorder said. “But I kind of forgot about it until one random Sunday when I went on the website to watch a friend, and I thought ‘Hey, maybe I should stream a little bit today.’ I ended up streaming for like five hours just on that first day, and I ended up with a good amount of viewers. I think I hit 15 followers just from that one stream.”

Van Gorder’s experience with streaming has led her to look at video games in a new light. Different genres of games give viewers the chance to gravitate towards whatever scratches that entertainment itch. For streamers like Van Gorder who play a variety of games, new and fun avenues have presented themselves.

“I got into games pretty recently, so I would say that the amount of games I play has grown since I started streaming because I’m more interested now in playing them for fun and for content,” Van Gorder said. “I never thought I would like shooting games, but those are the games that I find most fun to learn and to stream with friends.”

For many McCallum students, streaming has given them a creative outlet to explore what may not have been available to them in the past. Petropoulos began streaming during the COVID-19 quarantine, but explains that streaming was something he’d always wanted to try. Quarantine was just the final push he needed.

The gaming community at Mac is super accepting and nice. I also find that people are very supportive of each other and their content.”

— Grace Van Gorder

“I got into it because it always seemed fun to me,” Petropolous said. “I made some friends who streamed as well, not knowing in October I’d be starting it.”

For Petropoulos, gaming has always been something he’s enjoyed doing, even before he began going live with his gameplays. The platform of streaming just gave him an additional social outlet.
Petropolous said he has streamed several games, including Valorant, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, Apex Legends, Phasmophobia, Among us, Dead by Daylight and Rocket League.

“I started streaming these games because I just happened to be playing these games already, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not stream them?’” Petropolous said.

The scope of streaming extends beyond video games. Whether it’s live footage of discussions, social topics, art or music, McCallum streamers say there’s always going to someone who loves that same thing.

“The first time I streamed I met someone from the U.K., which was crazy,” Van Gorder said. “You can meet all these different people and chat with them. It’s different from Instagram or Snapchat because you already have this common interest.”

Junior Grace Van Gorder shares her vibrant streaming setup, complete with matching pink chair, keyboard, mouse, headphones and background. “I chose pink because it’s my favorite color and it’s one of the easier looks to find equipment for,” Van Gorder said. “I just loved the idea of having a pretty setup.” Photo courtesy of Van Gorder.

Streaming can satisfy the social needs of all types of people. For those who maybe don’t have the confidence to reach out, prefer to be alone, or simply prefer anonymous communication, streaming allows for an personal connection from viewer to streamer.

The ease of access allows for people with a computer and a passion for interactive entertainment to connect with a community of millions that share their passion.

As many of us are spending the foreseeable future in our homes, starting to watch and interact with streamers and the streaming community could be a new way to enjoy the time people have.

For those who may want to start streaming, Petropoulos and Van Gorder were asked to give a word of advice.

“I would say never give up,” Petropolous said. “It does take lots of effort, but just keep working with it.”

Van Gorder emphasizes the importance of communicating with the viewers.

“I would say that if you’re having fun then your viewers will have fun too,” Van Gorder said. “Talk to your chat and make sure that you’re commenting. But what matters most is that you’re having a good time.”