It’s past midnight on a Tuesday. Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa stands in her bedroom, which emanates a soothing purple glow. Clad in a fire engine-red top and a choker with a heart-shaped clasp, she appears neither bored nor tired, nor does her tongue seem to be pulsating in agony. This is pertinent information because, for 12 of the past 24 hours, Siragusa has been licking a microphone.
What does it mean to be authentic on Twitch? Who is real and who is fake on a platform where everybody is a brand, but also where a cornerstone of that brand is the appearance of down-to-earth chillness? This is the implicit question of the week on Twitch, and it’s all thanks to Imane “Pokimane” Anys.
Turns out, people like butts.
It’s hot tub stream summer, and everybody’s got an opinion. This week, for example, the biggest streamer on Twitch, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, called hot tub streams “trash,” saying that they’re “the most pathetic thing we’ve seen on Twitch in forever” and petitioning for them to be removed from the front page. It was the latest in a long line of similar opinions from names both big and small that date back to when hot tub streams first popped off in March. But according to hot tub streamers, this trend, like any other, is already coming down from its peak.
It’s no secret that Twitch has a problem with viewbots, which are fake viewers that artificially inflate streamers’ numbers. They’ve been part of the ecosystem for years, both as a means of making streamers look more popular than they are and, more recently, a tool trolls use maliciously to try to bring Twitch’s punitive wrath down on streamers they don’t like. Twitch, for its part, only acknowledged the issue sporadically. Until this week.
Today, the top streamer on Twitch was forced to quit mid-stream because, he says, he forgot to pay his power bill. He is a millionaire. You hate to see it.
Today, the Overwatch League announced changes to the way fans can watch its streams.
Ludwig Ahgren, a Twitch streamer with nearly 2 million followers, has never been one to shy away from stunts. His latest is especially audacious, albeit probably not great for his long-term health: He’s running a “never-ending” marathon stream powered by subscriptions. Each subscription adds another 10 seconds to the total amount of time he’s required to stream. Sunday night, he went to sleep with 18 hours left on the clock. When he woke up on Monday, viewers had kicked in enough subs to boost it up to 27 hours. There’s no end in sight.
CodeMiko is nervous. I can tell because she tells me. “This is, like, my first interview ever,” she says over a Discord call. “I’m sorry, I’m a little shy.” It’s December of 2020, and Miko’s entire life is about to change.
The scene: Grand Theft Auto V’s iconic city of Los Santos. People mill about outside an apartment building, likely plotting crimes. Nothing seems out of the ordinary—except for a lone figure. Clad in suffocatingly tight leather pants and a bulletproof vest, he looks prepared for anything and nothing all at once. He also looks like Keanu Reeves. He approaches a nearby man and asks—practically begs—for a cigarette. “I need my fucking…I need my fix,” he says in a hazy rasp. Then he trails off as he repeatedly slides into a T-pose while repeating the same sentence over and over. “I…