At TwitchCon, IRL Streamers Cause Problems By Streaming IRL

On Friday, the first night of TwitchCon 2017 in Long Beach, California, I was standing on a street corner, waiting for a traffic light to change. A roving pack of streamers walked up behind me. "Are you streaming right now?" one asked another. "Of course!" an IRL streamer replied. "If you're here and you're not streaming, what the fuck are you even doing?" The moment would prove to be illustrative of a divisive trend at this year's show that led to tension on show floor, trouble at parties, and even an arrest.

Image: Hampton Brandon.

Since late last year -- shortly after TwitchCon 2016 -- Twitch has played host to a section called "IRL", short for In Real Life. IRL streams aren't constrained by the virtual bounds of video games or the four walls of somebody's bedroom. With their phones attached to selfie sticks, streamers go on walks, hike, bike, travel and, controversially, even drive while engaging with their chat. The world is their oyster, and inside that oyster is sweet, sweet Content.

TwitchCon 2017 was packed. From Friday through Sunday, thousands of Twitch streamers and fans descended on the Long Beach Convention Center in hopes of meeting their favourite online celebrities (by which I mostly mean Dr Disrespect), interacting with fans, and broadening their own audiences. Oh, and of course, they streamed -- some from booths, some from stages, and some from slightly dystopian glass cubes.

Many, though, didn't need anything more than a phone. You couldn't walk more than a few metres during the event without seeing an IRL streamer, and not everybody was happy about that. While professional streamers spend large portions of their days on camera, most prefer to do it on their own terms. The sudden proliferation of IRL streamers at this year's show meant that cameras were constantly in sight. This led to a palpable tension, especially at events such as parties where most streamers were hoping for a chance to turn their personality dials down from 11 and just chill with their friends.

"There were guys shoving cameras in our friends' faces," popular video game streamer LolRenaynay told me during the convention. "Our friends were being polite about saying no, and that's when these guys started getting aggressive. It was really awkward. It's fine to walk around the party [on stream], but it's a whole different thing when you incorporate other people into it... You just don't take pictures and video of people without their consent."

IRL streamers, however, saw these gatherings as opportunities for spectacle, sometimes involving well-known streamers with thousands or millions of fans. In the wake of complaints, Twitch staff eventually forced IRL streamers such as Andy Milonakis‏, Boneclinks and EXBC to put their cameras away at parties, but it didn't stop streamers from voicing their distaste on Twitter.

While IRL streamers I spoke to contended that they tried to be polite before turning other streamers into co-stars on their shows, they also feel like it was strange that people were surprised to find themselves on-stream at events dedicated to the world's largest live-streaming platform. "I think they do forfeit an expectation of privacy [at TwitchCon]," Milonakis, who drew 12,000 concurrent viewers for one of his "biggest streams ever" during the first night's Twitch party,‏ said in an email.

He added that it's important to try and read the room, even if you don't get the right read 100 per cent of the time. "A certain amount of tact should apply," Milonakis‏ said. "If someone is being an asshole, they shouldn't be able to fall [back on] the excuse of 'Hey man, we're at TwitchCon. I'm allowed to stream.'"

For some IRL streamers, though, brazen unpredictability is part of the appeal. Viewers can't look away from the inevitable carnage, and that's why they tune in. During this year's convention, a particularly notorious streamer (who, it should be noted, was streaming on Periscope rather than Twitch) named Hampton Brandon showed up, immediately began doing things such as cat-calling women, and eventually got into a scuffle with a convention security person before being removed from the premises. Later that day, he ended up in gaol on a misdemeanour charge, per records from the Los Angeles county sheriff's department, though the records didn't indicate what for.

"FUCK BURGER FUCK THE 4TH FLOOR FUCK THE TWITCH EVENT MANAGER," Brandon wrote on Twitter the next day after being bailed out. I reached out to Brandon for further comment on the incident, but as of writing, he had yet to get back to me.

As for how he got bailed out, Milonakis is taking credit -- which is not to say he approves of Brandon's actions.

"I felt bad for him," Milonakis told me. "I woke up and was just thinking about what it would be like being stuck in a cell over the weekend, and it made me sad, so I put a couple hours into talking with the bail bonds place to get him out. He needs to learn how to channel his anger so he doesn't self-sabotage this golden opportunity of making a living off of live-streaming."

While debate continues to rage over whether or not some IRL streamers crossed the line during the show, everybody I spoke to agreed on one thing: Twitch should have been more up front about the rules surrounding IRL streaming during parties and at TwitchCon.

"I was informed by the official TwitchCon Twitter that 100% of TwitchCon was streamable," IRL streamer Boneclinks said in an email, describing the problem he ran into when he tried to stream at one of the events parties. "I assumed this extended to official TwitchCon parties as well." He said that Twitch staff were unnecessarily rude to him when they told him to stop streaming. "A much more constructive way of approaching a Twitch partner would have been to explain the situation and offer alternatives for content," he added. "None of this was done, and I feel as if I was treated like a criminal."

Milonakis found himself in a similar boat, having also been told to stop streaming at a party, and said he felt like he was suffering because of the actions of a few bad eggs. "If one person was being rude to another person by being aggressive with a camera in their face, that person should have been removed," he said. "To make every IRL streamer guilty and pay for that person's mistake is pretty stupid. If someone threw a glass on the ground, they're not gonna kick everyone out that had a drink in their hand."

"The best thing Twitch could do is create guidelines for these events," said LolRenaynay. "If they had set rules or boundaries for IRL, I don't think any of this would have happened." She added, however, that nobody really expected so many people to be IRL streaming during the convention, so she can't entirely blame Twitch for failing to sense a storm on the horizon and batten down the hatches. "I honestly didn't really think about it [ahead of time] either," she said.

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Comments

    I'm really not sure what's so difficult to grasp about the concept that maybe not everyone wants cameras lurking in the background live streaming them to the world, potentially without them even knowing its happening.

    I feel like the easiest work around for this is to set up an area or booth for the IRL Streamers that they can invite other people back to if they want to interview them? obviously the show floor is fair game but after parties should come down to a vote by the attendees.

    lastly, who the Fork wants to watch people walking around doing their day to day stuff? fair enough if its a a rare live vlog 'a day in the life of' a streamer I enjoy watching but just irl all the time? anyone watching those should probably start watching their own lives.

      Literally hundreds of millions of people across Asia use apps intended for "IRL streaming"

        Thats crazy! why? are they so miserable with their own lives that they need to watch someone else live theirs?
        it feels like it's only a few steps away from the whole nanobot 2nd life scene from that movie Gamer... minus the nanobots of course. seriously though, how long before we get a 'Twitch plays Roy' and the chat decides whether or not to go back to the Carpet Store. crazy.

    I actually watched quite a lot of Andy's and Boneclinks streams over the weekend as I was sick in bed.

    Andy was fine, he never threw himself into people's convos and mostly had people coming up to him and wanting to be on stream.

    Boneclinks was mostly fine, until he got kicked out of the partner party for streaming and went to the discord party and got hammered. He then proceeded to hit on every girl and was super rude if they knocked him back.

    At one point a girl offered him a place to crash as he had nowhere to go, he asked if he would be sleeping in her bed with her, she said no and that she was with someone, so he just got up and said "well there's nothing here for me" and stormed off. Pretty rude.

    Pretty sure the whole thing started when someone (Curda ?? I think his name is) got up in IIJERiiCHOIIs face without being polite about it, then he was complained about and that started the whole kicking out of people streaming.

    I also watched that same dude steal a bottle of wine from the bar with another streamer.

    Who watches this shit? Disaffected millennials? Smfh

      Yay, another badly handled complex non-issue to cause a stir and rustle some quick controversy.

      It's basically an evolution of trashy reality TV for those who are to hip to watch free to air TV

    Milonakis found himself in a similar boat, having also been told to stop streaming at a party, and said he felt like he was suffering because of the actions of a few bad eggs. "If one person was being rude to another person by being aggressive with a camera in their face, that person should have been removed," he said. "To make every IRL streamer guilty and pay for that person's mistake is pretty stupid. If someone threw a glass on the ground, they're not gonna kick everyone out that had a drink in their hand."

    That's not what it's like at all. It's more like if there were no speed limits and a few bad eggs drove too fast to react to unexpected actions and caused crashes, so now EVERYONE has to obey a speed limit. What a crazy world that would be.

    Or more like... we didn't think there would have to be a law about not driving your car up to airport runways, because we would've thought it would go without saying, but here we are. Now there's a rule. Thanks Gerry.

    Also, wow, the sense of entitlement:
    He said that Twitch staff were unnecessarily rude to him when they told him to stop streaming. "A much more constructive way of approaching a Twitch partner would have been to explain the situation and offer alternatives for content," he added.
    Not, "Sorry, you can't stream here," he wanted, "Sorry, you can't stream here, but we know you're only here for sweet, sweet content, so here's some we prepared earlier?"

    Get outta here.

    Last edited 24/10/17 1:16 pm

      He isn't saying that at all and I notice you omitted the beginning where he states he had already assertained the rules and regulations prior to the event.

      He has every right to be annoyed at the handling of the situation and I don't see how that's entitled at all.
      He attended an event, checked and followed the rules and was singled out by one subset of the community for the actions of others.
      I mean, I understand they likely didn't expect patrons to complain, but at the same time I wonder why they didn't foresee such an obvious privacy issue to begin with.
      It seems natural that perhaps some of the party events could've been better organised, some stream-free and perhaps even an IRL event party.

      This was just ham fisted damage control, rushed and done without any forethought of the consequences.

        The sense of entitlement is from his expectation that he should've been served up some 'replacement content'.

          Yes I did notice the lack of any mention of the word entitlement and correct me if I'm wrong but when the context isn't ignored, he wasn't expecting them to provide content, but expected that a streaming event, organised by a streaming platform, that offered open streaming, mightve considered alternatives when streaming was unceremoniously banned?

          I beleive both parties were entitled to areas given the nature of the event, I beleive its fine for anyone to expect either of those, again, given the point and nature of the event.
          Neither of those perceived entitlements or expectations makes anybody entitled nor gives them a sense in of entitlement in the context your implying.

          It seems to me that a perfectly reasonable and legitimate grievance on the actions of an event organiser is being ignored because the person with the grievance is an annoying pain in this arse....

          I'm not having a go at you, I give two shites about this guy and already forgot his name, when you lay it all out in the table it's actually pretty funny.
          The biggest streaming provider in the world, held a streaming related event, where they banned streaming, because some streamers didn't want to and some did.
          It's a streamers party that failed at both those things.

    generation "hey everyone look at me i'm a attention seeker, follow my social media accounts, give me likes, give me money!"

      It comes off that way but I think for professional streamers it's more like 'crap, I need to keep the spotlight on me and stay 'in-character' all day every day, or else I'll lose everything I worked for'. I know a lot of kids really want to get into it to be rich and famous, but that's not really different to my generation where everyone is trying to get rich quick with rental properties so they can humble brag about their casual holidays on Facebook.

    Why are these people even getting coverage? They are literally nobodies with cameras. Stop giving them press and attention and they will disappear.

    I have to get talent sign off to film anyone in my line of work. I don’t understand why IRL streamers should be able to film the public without consent?

    Brandon is forever getting verbal and violent on his stream with people simply telling him to go away and that they don’t want to be filmed. And it is only a matter of time before he or someone he is filming gets seriously injured. It isn’t a matter of if but when.

      I would be interested to see the small print, I find it hard to believe that this and other factors wouldn't have been well documented.

      For example, I would be floored if there wasn't a section on how a 100% open to streaming event will have cameras present and that patrons might find themselves caught on film.
      I would be even more surprised if they didn't have a code of conduct for streamers at the event also.

    This could all be solved if twitch created two seperate parties.

    One where IRL streaming is allowed

    Another where it is not.

    People can then decide for themselves which function they want to go to. Just because someone is a streamer, Does not mean they forfeit the right to privacy at a private closed doors function.

    This could be solved if people knew how to socialise and respect one another. Clearly not.

    Just wanted to say I appreciate that you spelt gaol correctly.

    What I think happened is the event organisers didn't think ahead.
    They didn't realise that part of their community wanted to be able to let loose and "turn off" and some wanted to stream the biggest streaming event happening.

    Sounds like the complaints from bigger names mightve caused a knee jerk reaction from organisers.

    One thing is abundantly clear though, there are only two camps for IRL streaming, Like and Think it's the stupidest bloody thing that has ever existed.

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