When you think of Twitch streamers, you probably think about young people, predominantly men, and that’s probably because that’s what the platform is mostly filled with.
And you’d be right. 65% of streamers on Twitch are male, according to statistics from this year, with the average active user aged 21.
But thanks in part to the pandemic, more and more gamers are flocking to Twitch, which means we’re seeing more diversity than ever before. And interestingly, streamers who don’t fit the typical young, male stereotype are thriving.
As per the NPD Group’s 2020 Evolution of Entertainment report, people over the age of 45 saw the greatest increase in total time investment in video games in 2020. So the proof is in the pudding, really. Video games aren’t just for young people.
Similarly, 45-to-54 year olds spent 76% more on video games during the pandemic, partially due to COVID’s impact on other activities like eating out or attending live events
Additionally, a 2019 study from the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association found that 42% of Australians over the age of 65 play video games, with the average age of gamers being 34-years-old. However, it’s worth noting this data was collected pre-COVID (ahh, remember pre-COVID?).
As you’d expect, these trends have been mirrored on Twitch, with creators like Australia’s own Haughty Chicken thriving on the platform despite being considerably older than the average streamer.
In just over a year on the platform, Haughty has amassed more than 10,000 followers and is now a Twitch Partner, which is no small feat for any streamer. Kotaku Australia sat down with Haughty Chicken to discuss her experiences on Twitch.
Kotaku Australia: How long have you been streaming for and how did you get into it?
Haughty Chicken: I started streaming in April 2020, so just over a year now. A friend of mine was streaming, and he asked when was I going to start? I became curious and started to look firstly for other older gamers, but also for channels that were chill and more casual game focused (particularly World of Warcraft). As I couldn’t find any, I decided I would make my own and see if anyone would come by to say hello.
Describe your growth. Was it slow and steady? Or did you have a moment where your following jumped substantially?
Haughty: My growth was rather quick. I remember I got my first viewer about an hour into streaming and that was the beginning of my community. I was able to apply for Twitch Partner 3 months after starting, and I didn’t expect to get it but was approved just a few days later. I do attribute a lot of my success also to using other platforms for promotion and in my case that was and is Twitter.
Very early on in my streaming experience I put out a tweet in the form of a PSA for older gamers. It was literally just a photo of myself, in my headset, encouraging older gamers, especially older women, to give streaming a go. As a WoW gamer and streamer, someone in Blizzard retweeted it and so it gained a lot of likes and retweets. I do believe that making genuine connections through social media is incredibly important as a content creator. Such connections have been and remain very important to me; for my own brand and channel growth, for getting to know peers and industry people in the space, and to learn what is happening in gaming and streaming.
How have you found the experience being an older gamer on a platform that very much feels like its targeted towards younger, predominantly male, gamers?
Haughty: My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Like many female streamers, I have been the target of misogynistic or sexist trolls, and as an older gamer and streamer ageism is also something I experience.
I am also delighted that some people in the industry are supportive as well. I was only streaming for 4 months when AMD in California contacted me to discuss sponsorship. To be sponsored by AMD was quite the validation that I was not only doing something right but that I had a place on Twitch. Blizzard have also been incredibly supportive of me the last 12 months and have stated that they appreciate the different demographics and play styles of those who play their games. Seeing myself on Blizzconline in February was something I never thought possible.
I do believe that increased visibility of older gamers would encourage more older gamers to stream, and I think there is a lot of work to be done to dismantle the stereotype of what a gamer looks like. My own mum for example is almost 79 and is an avid Rust player.
I think it is time brands and platforms not only recognised that but represented those demographics.
What is your best piece of advice for up and coming streamers?
Haughty: My first piece of advice is to be your genuine self.
You can certainly be inspired by other streamers, but being your genuine self is how you will find your community; they truly will find you and stay because of who you are.
Also, do a little homework beforehand. Understand your streaming platform, whether you will use OBS etc.
Whilst you don’t have to have a lot to start, you do need to have basic knowledge of what you are using. Also, please remember streaming etiquette! It does exist and it is important, especially when you network, and you do need to network.
Get to know your streaming peers and important industry connections. As others will also advise, be consistent and if you want to grow, make plans. I knew I wanted to make partner before I went live. I make plans and set goals each month, some small, some long-term.
Have you faced any negativity from the community as an older gamer?
Haughty: There has been the occasional comment that I don’t belong on Twitch because of my age, or subtle ageism in the form of comments suggesting that I either don’t know how to play, am being carried or unwanted advice on how to stream/play. The community as a whole have been very positive and are in fact delighted to see an older gamer on Twitch.
What has been your favourite moment since starting your channel?
Haughty: I have had many favourite moments, but I think the overwhelming moments are those associated with my community, particularly comments and private messages that thank me for creating such a safe space. Often I receive messages from gamers who, for many reasons, are rejected by their own grandparents or have not found a space on Twitch that is inclusive, safe and chill. Everyone in my community feels welcomed and validated for who they are and how they play their games. I am delighted that I have created a space for everyone to enjoy, free of unkindness or judgement.
What do you want to do next? What are your goals?
Haughty: I want to continue to build the community space whilst promoting the need to recognise and promote gamers of all ages and play styles. I believe brands and the gaming industry need to catch up a little on their ageing demographics.
I not only believe in inclusivity but also kindness in gaming and streaming spaces. Our connection to empathy is lost due to anonymity online: in streaming and gaming spaces. My stream and community motto is Be Kind, Be You. Kindness is one way we can combat toxicity in both spaces, so I want to continue to promote that. Finally, as my profession away from streaming includes mental health, I want to remain an advocate for the mental health of gamers. I represent two mental health organisations that focus on gamers, so that is an area I want to bring into the spotlight and challenge the stigmas around that.
Basically, my goals are to continue to grow: grow awareness, grow my channel and my community. Given the last 12 months, I am excited to see what is ahead.