Being sociable and chatty, with a flair for networking, are the most important characteristics required to be a successful video game streamer, according to new research.
The study, led by Goldsmiths, University of London, with researchers from the London School of Economics, interviewed 100 successful gamers who stream on platforms such as Twitch to learn more about the hugely popular and competitive industry.
The researchers found that the ability to network and be sociable was most valued among successful video game streamers. One interviewee stated that, contrary to the introverted stereotype of a video gamer, 'to be a success in this industry you need to be a social butterfly'. Another said, 'the whole point...is I like people to feel welcomed, able to talk, and to feel like they can contribute to the conversation'.
Apart from being socially savvy, the research also revealed the highly demanding schedules of streamers aiming to be successful in an extremely competitive market. Interviewees described the meticulous planning that goes into scheduling a stream and online discussion, and the pressure of establishing and developing a unique social media brand.
With a surprising number of full-time teachers and nurses among those interviewed, some reported working 24-hour streaming shifts and 70-hour weeks, with others streaming through the night while also working full-time.
Mark R Johnson, who conducted the study as a Computing postdoctoral fellow at Goldsmiths, said: "The most successful gamers on Twitch are not necessarily those who are the most skilled at particular games, but those who are the most witty, gregarious and engaging. Of course, a deep knowledge of games and gaming culture is highly beneficial, but it is undoubtedly the social gamers who do best.
"We were also interested to find quite how hard streamers work both when trying to make an impression in the industry, and once they turn professional. It's such a competitive space that many will work very long hours for months or even years to set themselves apart. Others will prepare conversation topics for their next stream, spend huge amounts of time on social media bulding their brand, and work with games publishers to arrange deals for games they can broadcast.
"When you have around two million regular streamers and a platform as open and relatively free of rules as Twitch, aspiring broadcasters are very willing to push themselves hard in order to make it to the top."
Launched in 2011, Twitch is the world's leading social video service and community for video game culture. It has 15 million daily active users, over 2.2 million 'content creators' per month, and an average of 106 minutes of content watched per person per day.