TwitchCon is described by Twitch itself as “made for the community, by the community,” and while outsiders or first-time attendees might scoff at that description, TwitchCon Paris truly felt like a full weekend that celebrated exactly that; community. The event, held 8-9th July in Paris for this year’s European leg (with an American event to run in October), saw thousands of streamers and fans descend upon the Paris Convention Centre to shop, explore all that Twitch has to offer, network, and perhaps most importantly, engage with one another.
By its very nature, streaming and engaging with streamers on Twitch can be a physically-detached experience. Streamers sit at their PCs, chatting to fans through a camera and screen, while viewers interact through chat. TwitchCon brings the two parties together in a physical space, which in theory runs the risk of being pretty awkward for everyone involved – after all, many people who’ve grown up in a chronically online era (myself included) have had the (dis)pleasure of finding themselves meeting online friends IRL and realising that digital connections don’t always translate very well once face-to-face.
However, all it took was observing fans coming together and bonding with each other over shared interests in earnest (a sign on the show floor touts the tagline, “Day 1: new friends, Day 2: best friends”), and streamers themselves getting amongst their communities to realise that there’s something special about TwitchCon that allows that initial awkward online to IRL transition to become near-seamless.
A unique experience for fans
Perhaps it’s due to the sheer accessibility of well-known and established Twitch Partners at TwitchCon, some of whom boast millions of followers – big names like HasanAbi, GeorgeNotFound, and Pokimane. Fans don’t have to clamour to catch a glimpse of their favourite internet stars: they all wander the expo floor and readily interact with fans, no major security retinue shielding them from the masses, and Meet & Greets run throughout the weekend at no additional cost to attendees.
From a streamer perspective, maybe it’s that opportunity to network, both with other content creators but also fans new and old to build up a following and gain further opportunities and exposure for their return home.
Maybe it’s that buzzword, that sense of community, bringing people from around the globe together – Dream Team fans from across oceans sitting together, enthusing about their favourite streamers as they excitedly await entrance to the Twitch Rivals theatre to watch them live and in the flesh. Community meetups baked into the TwitchCon schedule, bringing fans of different games and subgroups, but also different marginalised communities, together. Even the streamers Kotaku Australia spoke to, like sylveey, reiterated that their favourite part of streaming and TwitchCon in general was the communities surrounding it.
Whatever it is, it’s clear after a weekend in and amongst it that TwitchCon is a hub for people to celebrate each other and the bonds they’ve made online, as well as to create new ones. All of this is to say I was surprised, but also re-affirmed, in my view that Twitch, and streaming culture more broadly, can be a social, positive and honestly very wholesome experience for a diverse group of people.
For the community, but also the streamers
It’s not just that sense of togetherness that made TwitchCon feel like a physical iteration of a thriving online service, though. Sure, fans and community members were given plenty to do, see, and engage with, but there was plenty more for the backbone of Twitch itself too, the streamers who dedicate countless hours to building up these communities and fostering them.
On top of a private Partner Lounge for streamers to step away from the hectic schedule and crowds (and a place for further networking), are plenty of expo hall exhibitors showcasing new and upcoming streamer-focused products and tools, and all sorts of inspiration for future content, plenty of panels and new direct announcements from Twitch served to bring more value to content creators.
Creator Camp panels focused on assisting and inspiring streamers in all stages of their journey – from those bringing in single-digit viewer numbers to those tackling streaming full-time. From lessons on how to have a healthier relationship with streaming and escape the content grind (we’ve got more to say on this in a later article) to Partner-Only panels to discuss feedback directly with Twitch, streamers were equally catered to, and it was clear this was a focus given the sheer amount of Partners attending from around the world just for fun.
Perhaps the most notable inclusion for streamers themselves at TwitchCon, though, was the spate of new tools and expansion of functions announced during the opening ceremony by Twitch CEO Dan Clancy. A number of new additions to Twitch that particularly seem geared towards the longevity of Twitch and keeping streamers engaged with the platform despite the potential for burnout becoming a growing trend (and in spite of other competing services cropping up) include the Discovery Feed, which sounds a lot like the TikTok For You page or Instagram Reels but for randomised Clips from streams to allow viewers to discover their new favourite streamers while also allowing content creators to passively grow their audience without needing to be live.
The introduction of stories (functioning the same as they do on major social media platforms), to launch in October, is another way for streamers to include and engage with their audience and keep them up to date with chat’s current memes and news – with a subscriber-only option for stories to provide more value to subscribers looking for exclusive content.
Clancy announced a broad range of other tools geared towards reducing the output outside of streaming required to grow audiences on other platforms like TikTok – many of the streamers we spoke to mentioned the extra hours put into editing clips and posting content elsewhere to broaden their viewer base – as well as new safety tools in an era when streamers are often subject to hate raids, harassment and other negative behaviours.
While there’s no official word on the attendance numbers for TwitchCon Paris, it certainly felt like a thriving show floor full of people ready to authentically experience all that Twitch had to offer. While I’m usually one to question marketing descriptions of events that seem to paint them as grassroots experiences for the people they serve (after all, every event needs to make money to be viable enough to recur), I can confidently say that TwitchCon lives up to the tagline – it’s by the community, yes, but more importantly, it’s an event for them.
The author of this article travelled to TwitchCon Paris as a guest of Twitch.
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