How I Learned to Make Money Playing Video Games
By Ricky Chavez
Many people grew up idolizing movie stars, rock stars and super heroes, but kids today are idolizing an entirely different group of people: gamers.
Because of the outstanding success of a video game streaming website called Twitch, watching people play video games has never been easier and it’s inspired many people, including myself, to play video games for the people to watch, and even make money doing it.
The superstars of Twitch like Ninja average around 30,000 viewers per stream, making a full time job out of streaming usually streaming longer than eight hours a day. Ninja has reported making over half a million dollars every month from subscribers, ads and donations from Twitch alone. This doesn’t include his sponsors and other sources of income that he gets.
I’m a college student (Cabrillo and UCSC) and a part-time streamer. My stream focuses on playing games at a high level, usually doing some sort of challenge that either few or no people have attempted before, including achieving world records for games. I stream five days a week for several hours for the world to watch, and while I may not pull in the thousands of viewers that some streamers do, seeing that handfuls of strangers come by to watch me play games every day makes every stream worth it.
While my stream is small the interactions I’ve had with people are very personal and I’ve become friends with almost all of my regular viewers. While conversations usually revolve around video games occasionally someone will ask about something not related to video games and I’ll voice my opinion on the topic or just ramble about it. I try to make my stream feel like my home, where everyone is welcome and everyone should just be trying to have fun.
But why don’t more people do it? It’s easy to just turn on your computer or game console and start streaming, but so many people quit after a year, a month or even just a week. It’s because it makes you realize it’s hard to make people care.
Twitch is currently the main place to stream, which means there’s a lot of competition for viewers, especially when you don’t already have a following. Streaming day after day, seeing your viewer count sit at zero and occasionally jump up to a whopping one viewer is disheartening. After months of this it’s not easy to keep going.
I would tell myself, “I’m gonna play games anyways, I might as well stream,” so now here I am, more than a year later, averaging about three viewers every stream and making $100 every couple of months. All because I love playing video games.
Finding the time isn’t easy though, streaming isn’t easy at all. Balancing school, work and streaming puts a timer on everyday activities. And finding the energy to make sure everything gets done is no easy task.
There’s this misconception that to have a good stream all you have to do is start it up, but a lot more goes into it than that. Setting a schedule, making sure it looks and sounds good and interacting with chat members is exhausting, but seeing those few regulars come by and starting a community makes it worth it.
The age at which, “where did the time go?” is said seems to be getting younger and younger, but for me, between streaming, going to school and going to work, every day is so full of activities that things that happened a couple weeks ago feel like they happened months ago. I guess depending on the person that could be a good or bad thing, but for me, it’s definitely a positive.
If you love video games and have always wanted to be a streamer, my best advice is to just do it. But like anything in life, don’t expect to become famous after a week, a month, or even a year. Streaming is something you need to put a lot of effort into and really have the heart to see that zero haunt your stream for days on end. If you can power through it though, you might be surprised with how satisfying starting your own community is and how satisfying it is to get paid for playing video games.