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Live Streamers

History

Live streaming is still a new profession, barely cutting its teeth at less than 20 years old. It has origins in the 2000s, when the video game playthrough platform called Let's Play came about. Let's Play documents gamers' subjective experiences in playing through a video game. According to a Washington Post article, "At their core, Let’s Play videos feature running commentary on top of video gaming footage. The format was christened as Let’s Play on the Something Awful [a comedy Web site featuring various content] message boards, allowing forum members to get involved in the story. It wasn’t until 2007 when a user named “slowbeef” (real name Michael Sawyer) uploaded audio commentary along with his game recording of “The Immortal” for the Sega Genesis...Thus, the birth of a new art form." Let's Play continues today and differs from live streaming, however, in that live streaming is live in-the-moment, whereas Let's Play experiences are often edited and narrated, and sometimes scripted.

Live streaming has been gaining in popularity since the 2010s, on social media sites such as Twitch and YouTube. The original streaming was not all in real time, but live streamers could upload videos, increase their audience, and earn money from paying subscribers. In the past decade many gaming personalities from the Let's Play genre have also transitioned to live streaming. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic caused lockdowns around the world, which contributed to increased interest in live streaming, from video gaming to musical performances, plays, and other events. Billboard reported that in the last quarter of 2020 alone, 115 million people watched livestreams on sites such as Twitch and the music-focused streamer platform Mandolin.