Here’s the story of a guy who makes millions of dollars by streaming his videogames every day for 10 hours. He has no other life to speak of. No friends, no relationships other than a girlfriend and a mom he pays to bring him dinner every night (seriously). Just gaming and sleep, and trips to the gym so he doesn’t turn into a mouse-clicking blob of biomass. And depression, and paranoia, and exhaustion, and stalkers. But apparently allllll the attention and huge paychecks make it worth it. Kind of. Maybe?
At 26, Tyler is a millionaire and one of the Internet’s most popular streamers. For 50 hours a week, he broadcasts himself playing video games from his cramped living room in his 900-person Missouri hometown to 4.6 million followers, watching from around the world. He earns more than $200,000 a month in Twitch ads and viewer subscriptions. Sponsorships with Nike and Doritos, contracts with giant esports teams, fan donations and merchandise sales have earned him millions more.
Tyler’s fans discuss his life and swap memes across Discord, Reddit and TikTok, sending him gifts like handwritten letters or a sketch of his face. But scorned followers have lashed out, demanding to know why they were ignored. One night, two fans left a note on his doorstep with their phone numbers alongside a menacing gift: a tombstone bench inscribed, “Your spirit lives within me.”
I’ve tried watching some of these streamers, just to see what people find so captivating, and I quickly found that it’s nothing I want to waste hours of my life on. If it’s a short clip of something fun or interesting happening, I’m all for it. But watching hours and hours of gamers yelling at their screens, muttering to themselves, typing in a chatbox, etc.? Meh. The appeal of this stuff mystifies me, but then again I’m an old fart.