Twitch itself has become synonymous with online gaming but its infamous “Twitch chat” has become something entirely different.

All you need to do to get a flavour of what Twitch chat really is, is to drop in to any of the biggest streamers for any game of your liking, you will instantly be greeted by a video of someone playing a game. What you will also find is a wall of constantly moving text. This wall is Twitch chat. The live, fast paced chat function of Twitch, used by many to communicate with the streamer themselves, and with each other is one of the cornerstones of the Twitch community. In a stream of say, 2,500 people, about half of that will be chatting.

The chat part of Twitch has now become something that people are tuning in for more than the actual stream, streamer or game itself. The simple act of typing out an emote and joining in with the rapidly paced interactions has evolved into almost an activity itself, separate from the stream. When one person copies and pastes some sort of meme or emote, most of the time every one else will do the same. It is a very strange but often hilarious environment as it often escalates into some very odd “conversation” if you can call them that.

If you “follow” a Twitch streamer you can choose to be notified when they start streaming and there isn’t much else to it. If you subscribe to their channel however you can get custom emotes which only subscribers can use. Here is an example of some of them:

Twitch subscriber emotes

This is a fairly unique idea, not something YouTube has implemented, for example. It is a positive, two way arrangement that both the viewer and streamer can gain from. It is £5 a month to subscribe to most channels and if you have Amazon Prime, it’s free. When Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014 after it’s main competitor shut down.

Twitch chat itself has been a great addition to the website as it adds a whole new level of interaction and involvement to the livestream experience,. It means that you are not only sharing a real time moment with a streamer, someone you enjoy watching (or not) as well as hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of other people. Riot Games had 229,713 viewers at one point. Communal viewing such as this can be a special experience. It is less special of course when someone in the chat is repeatedly spamming an obscure Anime referencing emote constantly, but it’s still fun.

It’s not hard to join in either, once you’ve spent about half an hour watching any major streamer and their chat, you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. Most of Twitch chat is just parroting and spam anyway.It also means that the streamer themselves can interact with their fans, another very cool and beneficial situation for streamer and viewer. It’s almost like chatting with a celebrity, and often most streamers read out or at least read/listen to donation messages or mention new subscribers’ names. it may not seem like much but imagine spending £5 for someone like Chris Pratt to read out (and often respond to) a message you have sent them. Not exactly magical, but close. This level of interaction can mean a lot to some people as it gives them a sense of community and even friendship. A lot of people on the Yogscast Jingle Jam (streamed live on Twitch) sent in messages relating to how their streams and videos helped them through tough times. Twitch chat was a part of that too.

On the 12th of Febuary 2014, an anonymous Australian programmer started up something called “Twitch Plays Pokemon”. This was an ingenious social experiment to see how, or if, it was possible to play a game using Twitch chat as the command input. It is estimated that 1.16 million people joined in at some point to chat, help out, or simply watch the chaos. This is 100% something that is new to this world and could only be truly achieved through digital means, without the internet, this project would have been practically impossible. To be fair, it only took 16 days for the game to be completed, an impressive achievement, even if it was played 24/7. It didn’t take long for trolls to start messing with the game however, repeatedly saving the game or walking into walls. It is still an interesting moment in internet history and hopefully will not be forgotten any time soon.

Twitch chat is a huge part of the website and I think if you asked anyone who had used it, the site wouldn’t be the same without it. It brings people from literally all over the world together to watch one stream and talk to each other. Even if most of the time it’s users are either talking about anime, memes or just insulting each other, it continues to entertain and connect anyone and everyone.