Overall, Twitch.TV is a fast moving, user based, live streaming entertainment platform. In many ways it is similar to YouTube, and especially in the sense that the website is completely reliant on the users of the site to provide the entertainment while those at Twitch provide the platform. Talented and entertaining individuals known as "streamers" have worked their way up from nothing to create massive followings on the website all based of off their personality and the content they provide in their live streams. Thousands of viewers tune in live daily to see these streamers play video games, interact with chat and entertain a new generation of media users.
An integral part of being a streamer on Twitch has always been video games, and in the past, and currently, most streamers on the website will play some sort of video game for their live audiences to watch and interact with but this is quickly changing as the website grows and more variety is introduced. The most valuable, unique and complex aspect on Twitch besides the creators themselves is by far the live audience chat and the ability to interact and affect the media you are watching, but more on that in the Chat Basics section.
The picture here is the Twitch.TV homepage you will see when first opening the website but be aware - everyone's home page will look different based on the streamers they follow/watch as Twitch automatically customizes for you. It may be daunting to try and figure out where to start or what to watch but there 3 fundamental aspects of the website that can help you get the ball rolling if you understand them, but first you need to create a account! You can do this but clicking on the top right corner.
Main Components of Twitch
Live streams are divided in the categories based on what activity or game the streamer is focusing on. To get a better idea of the Browse Tab and the categories shown click below.
Every streamer has their own channel that is customized to their liking and has their own communities, cultures and rules that viewers can follow and join in on. To get a better understanding of how Channels and subscriptions work and differ from one another click below.
Every channel has a chat box that is updating live with the streamer as viewers add comments and emotes to interact. To learn about Twitch chat, emotes, donations and more, click below.
Channels and Streamers
Chat and Emotes
The browse tab is going to be the best tool for new viewers to explore and find the streamers they enjoy and want to watch. When you first click the Browse tab there will be several categories, mostly video games, ordered from highest live viewers to the least. Based off this you can choose which category you want to watch and from there, you will have a list of all the streamers who are live in that category, organized in the same fashion, from most viewers to least. It may take a while to find the type of stream and streamer you like so a useful tip is to surf around a lot and don't just stick to the big numbers - although they are big for a reason.
After choosing a category
A lot of Twitch is integrated with Reddit as well, so to get a gist of the recent drama and events that are being discussed by viewers and streamers you can follow r/Livestreamfails and even some personalized subreddits for bigger streamers with additional content that relates to the stream. Ex. r/xQcOW
Once you decide you want to watch a streamer you can keep track of whenever they are live by hitting the follow button which is shaped like a heart. They will then appear on the "Followed Channels" section on the left hand side of the website and show a red dot beside the name, as well as the viewer count, when live.
Once following, you can click on the bell right beside the follow button on the right side and you will get a notification when the streamer goes live. You can also show the streamer more support by clicking the subscribe button to pay $5/month for some benefits that wouldn't normally be available. (More details in chat guide)
Right beside the streamers name in the top left corner you can click on videos to view and re watch previous live broadcasts from that streamer referred to as "VODs". You can see the current live viewer count along with overall total views below the broadcast to the right in red and grey font respectively. Within this same area to the left, you can see the stream title and game the streamer is playing.
Twitch Chat, Emotes and more
When you first look at Twitch chat you may be tempted to not bother even trying to read it as many can move very fast with many unfamiliar terms and emotes, and in some cases can have a very "spammy" nature to them. The best advice I can give for those looking to try and start using chat is to start by looking at a variety of different channels with varying viewer counts (large and small) and chat speeds. Despite how entertaining it can be, the point of the chat is more than just reading it, it's for the viewers to react to the stream together as a community and for the streamer to get involved as well, to create something bigger than any one person watching or participating.
It's hard to truly describe the benefit of chat without actually experiencing it but put simply, it creates the feeling that you are watching the stream together with thousands others from the same community who have similar interests and varying opinions, all supporting the streamer you enjoy while reacting to funny or dramatic events with emotes, memes and more. This is somewhat of a generalization as different streamers are going to have completely different chats depending on things like moderation, section and streamers personal preferences but more detail on these aspects later on. The gif on this page is an example of a faster moving, relatively unorganized and uncoordinated chat without extensions installed or chat badges showing. (BTTV extension recommended)
To learn more about emotes, how to get them, how to use them and how they are different in each channels chat, click below.
To learn more about donating, bits and badges earned for chat click below.
Badges & Bits
To learn more about the spam in chats as well as the memes and certain changing chat "metas" click below.