Tuesday, September 27

Twitch Isn’t ‘Fulfilling’ Anymore, Will Stream Less

Imane 'Pokimane' Anys gestures her hand toward the right in a video announcing her decision to stream less on Twitch.

Screenshot: Pokimane / YouTube

After a more than one-month-long (and seemingly healthy) break from social media and content creation, Twitch star Imane “Pokimane” Anys has returned to uploading content. But things will be different now. Pokimane dropped a new YouTube video today detailing her time away from the internet, talking about what she learned and what her viewers can expect from her going forward. Overall, it serves to illustrate how “creatively unfulfilling” Twitch’s second-biggest female broadcaster has found the business of livestreaming as of late.

Pokimane has become a household name on Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform. With 9.2 million followers there, Pokimane is second only to Amouranth. However, she’s been broadcasting herself playing games for almost a decade now, starting out when she was just 17 years old. She turned her streaming hobby into a full-time job around the age of 21, appearing on video at least six times a week for multiple hours at a time. That can get exhausting, especially if you’ve been doing it for nearly 10 years, which is exactly how Pokimane felt.

So, back in July—and this is customary for her every once in a while—she bowed out of all forms of parasocial connectivity to focus on herself. She didn’t specify exactly how long she would be offline for, but after over a month being away, Pokimane has returned to say that, in short, she won’t keep to her previously proposed schedule of streaming about four times a week. Instead, she told her audience that she would “see you when I see you,” which she estimates to be around two to three times a week, if that. And when viewers do see her, it might not necessarily even be on Twitch.

Pokimane

Pokimane said she wasn’t aware of how much she was neglecting her own needs while streaming full-time, like finding nearby grocery stores or establishing good routines. In other words, “basic human things” wound up on the back burner in favor of livestreaming, and the job, as she sees it, has impacted her ability to care for herself. These are burnout-style symptoms that, over the years, many pro streamers have voiced as common struggles that come with the job. In Pokimane’s case, it’s pushing her to make a bigger, more permanent change. The issue, as she describes it, is that sticking to her usual mode of work is similar to staying in a form of arrested development.

“And obviously as humans, we kinda just rinse and repeat what people like,” she said, speaking to content creators’ willingness to play to trends in order to succeed. It’s especially corrosive to play to crowds, she argues, when you’re young and still figuring out who you want to be. “I feel like, especially as content creators, whether we want to admit it or not, obviously we want people to like what we do.”

Pokimane went on to say that she often doesn’t have time to think about anything else in her life other than work. She said it’s hard to make time for yourself when you’re “glued to a screen for eight hours just reading comments about what people think of you.” Instead, she wants to dictate how she grows and changes as a person, rather than having that done for her.

Read More: Pokimane’s Immaculate Room Tour Has Twitch Streamers Showing Off Their Messy Bedrooms

“It feels like I just don’t really wanna participate in the rat race that is streaming,” Pokimane said after letting out a heavy sigh. “It’s so hard for me to say this stuff because I feel…I don’t know, I have this fear—this feeling that people might be disappointed in hearing these things. But essentially, when I wake up nowadays, I don’t wanna run to my PC and game for eight hours straight.”

Crucially, one of the things Pokimane notes during her explanation is that grinding streams doesn’t feel the way it used to, because games themselves aren’t hitting the way they used to.

“I’ve played almost every large, trendy game,” Pokimane said. “I hope it doesn’t [seem] big-headed of me to say, but nowadays when I see things on Twitch, it kinda feels ‘been there, done that.’ I’m not really excited or passionate about much, aside from general chatting and connecting with people.”

She’s enjoying games more off-stream than on stream, she said, which has taken the pressure off. And she still loves games like Valorant, of course, but not at the “pace or frequency” that streaming requires. It certainly doesn’t help that streaming in of itself has started to feel kind of bad.

“Whether you [all] realize it or not, there’s such a pressure on streamers to follow every trend, to capitalize on viewership, to stream longer than the [person] next to them or the [person] that they share similar viewership with,” Pokimane said. “It’s just a hyper-competitive industry, but ultimately the reason I say this is because I’m just at a point in my life where it doesn’t feel creatively fulfilling to feed into that anymore. In the past it was fine because either the games I was really enjoying or something within streaming felt new to me. But right now, it feels like something that I still want to be part of my arsenal, I just don’t wanna feel those same pressures that I kind of need to feel as a ‘full-time streamer.’”

So, Pokimane is pulling away from the site where she grew her massive audience. She’s interested in branching out to other platforms, something she’s already been doing on places like Instagram and TikTok, exploring fashion and other lifestyle content. It’s a pivot, but nothing that’s unexpected. The key difference now is that while she’s continuing her focus to diversify her content, she wants to do without the audience, company, and contract pressures that come with full-time streaming on Twitch, or tying her brand entirely to video games, which revolve around constant updates.

“The most important part of this, and the thing that’s also the most difficult for me to talk about, is honestly just coming to terms with my evolving content desires,” Pokimane said. “What I mean is my break really cemented within me this feeling I have to want to do a lot more than just streaming.”

Kotaku has reached out to Pokimane for comment.

Around the same time Pokimane announced that she’s diversifying where she uploads content, one of streaming’s biggest names, Ninja, tweeted that he “needs to take a break.” As more and more big streamers open up about how endemic burnout is to the job in the last few years, it’s clear that professional streaming’s going through some sort of reckoning.

“I think I just wanted to talk about it so I could mentally remove that pressure and just feel free and happy to make whatever content I want to make at any time, about any thing,” Pokimane said during her video. “And use whatever mediums and platforms feel right for me to use in that moment…if people have been following me this long, maybe they’re just interested in what I have to say, or my life.”





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