24 hours. 1440 minutes. 86400 seconds.
I won’t pretend that I haven’t done ridiculous things for the love of video games and community but I personally believe that a gaming stream lasting 24 hours – for charity or not – is severely pushing the limitations of what is safe and healthy for a gamer.
What’s worse is that 24 hour streams have become a faint chant in the background as a rite of passage for streamers and an expectation by viewers. Are you really excited about reaching 100, 500, 1000 follows if you don’t do an absurdly long stream? It’s the proving ground of endurance and self harm as a way of showing love of community and culture and I’m absolutely disgusted by it.
The first time someone in my Twitch chat suggested I do a 24 hour stream, I had just passed 200 followers; I was far from a seasoned streamer and I was shocked. The hours I spent on stream per day casually reached the double digits back then – 10 hours wasn’t even that bad to me. Destiny had taken my life and I was happy to share that addiction with my viewers BUT 24 hours? That is an entire day. I kept going over the time in my head, saying it at various speeds trying to find the sense in it.
It wasn’t surprising to me that it took multiple deaths for the gaming community at large to have conversations (very superficial ones at that) about the impact that marathon streaming has on your health – there was no mention of how the pressure from the culture itself factors into that.
Where does that expectation come from? Why do we acquiesce to it?
There is this idea that accomplishing this goal will suddenly catapult you to some measure of visibility and so many “bigger” streamers do it or have done it in the past so it’s the next step up.
The expectation is changing now, 24 hours isn’t enough to prove yourself – enter 48 -72 hour marathon attempts by broadcaster across streaming platforms. The world record is 138 hours. Imagine that five days+ of streaming Just Dance, at least in this case the record holder is a PE Teacher and most likely was in great shape before her decision to attempt the record.
Instead of focusing on the quality of the content being released, we’ve become caught up in counting the hours. If you’re fighting yourself, your body and your schedule to stream, how can you control the quality of what you’re putting out?
This is what we want for ourselves as a culture? 2-3 day streams?
And yes, I do understand that there are gamers who are better at longer streams than others, that there will always be folks who push themselves to either break their own records or others or simply love gaming so much that they can possibly lose track of an entire day and night while playing a video game on stream but those are exceptions, should not be the rule and certainly not a cultural expectation.
Running a marathon is a great accomplishment and for most it takes time, dedication and months if not years of preparation to get your body and mind to the level of conditioning that completion requires.
IF you are going to do extended streams, it goes without saying that you should listen to your body above all else and I would hope that you are putting your health and needs above those of your stream and viewers but, I can’t support you nor the toxicity that it represents in streaming culture.
Yes, Twitch and other game streaming sites could be doing more to encourage healthy gaming culture and practices on the mediums they provide but nothing takes precedence over personal responsibility.
It will require a combined effort between the platform, streamers and viewers to create a better, healthier community.