This year at TwitchCon, the show floor is playing host to a handful of box-shaped, see-through “Streamer Zones” where people can stream for their usual online audiences and also a real life one sitting mere feet away. If you’re used to streaming from the comfort of your own bedroom, it can be terrifying.
It’s one thing to stream for hundreds of people who are some variation of Way Over There, but it’s another to have 30+ people staring holes into your back as you sit at a PC and do your thing. “The World Is Watching,” read Intel-sponsored signs hanging ominously above each booth, like something out of a dang Black Mirror episode. Sometimes, people approach the glass and peer in with their faces nearly pressed against it. Occasionally, you see messages like this in chat:
“Hi from outside your booth,” is a heck of a thing to see during a high-pressure in-game situation. It’s hard to stay in-the-zone when you’re in the bizarro twilight zone that is The Streamer Zone.
I spoke to Franplayshalo, a high-ranked competitive Overwatch streamer, as she wrapped up a session, and she told me that it was definitely a unique experience.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” she said with an exhale. “At first I was fine, but then one of [the Twitch staff] told me there’d be people watching out there, and my nerves shot up.”
As a highly competitive player and performer, she wanted to make sure she lived up to expectations. It took her a bit, but she found her footing. “After a few games, I was like ‘OK, I can do this,’” she said. “‘It’s like any other day at home.’”
And then she got greeted by a small crowd of appreciative fans she knew from her chat. Probably not something that happens very often at home, but nice nonetheless.