TwitchMetrics.com states that as of July 2023 “Just Chatting” is #1 on their top 10 list of streams. I found that surprising at first, especially because just-released games like Diablo IV come in #7 on that list. On YouTube, if you follow gaming at all, Diablo IV has seemed ubiquitous lately.

It’s interesting that everything else on the top 10 list is an actual game — no other categories — but this one category pushes above all else. What does that say about gaming right now?

Aside my own assumptions, I did some digging to see why Twitch users said they found value in spending time there.

Just Chatting Is An Easy Form Of Human Connection When You’re Lonely.

One Redditor likened it to how years ago some people would hang in a bar and drink for awhile, and even if they didn’t talk to anyone would find some comfort in hearing other people talk nearby.

The presence of other people, and being a tangential part of their experience makes you feel less alone. Hanging out in Just Chatting provides a similar opportunity.

In a way it’s much better, apart from not requiring you to be 21 or to keep spending money on drinks. That’s because those streaming on Just Chatting are there deliberately to entertain.

For the listener, it’s still mostly passive but allows for interaction if desired. But where it’s ideal is that those in the chat are aware of everyone else partaking, which makes the listener’s experience a bit less voyeuristic.

With the way things have been the last few years, all of this makes sense. There’s a lot of social isolation, even as things have returned “normal”. Nothing is exactly as it was, and even if it were, people were still lonely then.

As A Place To Discuss Non-Gaming Topics

While the community will probably be split on this one, a lot of Twitch users say it’s entertaining to listen to people:

  • Indie filmmakers discuss projects
  • Fans of a common TV show or hobby discussing it together
  • A personality reacting to another streamer’s content

The reason I say the community might be split on this one is because an opinion I’ve seem repeatedly in different forums talking Twitch is that “Twitch is a gaming platform only. I don’t acknowledge anything else.” It’s understandable, and while I can see the merits of Just Chatting for many users I know full well how it feels to watch a platform you enjoy become something else as it tries to emulate other platforms.

Like Instagram has done mimicking Snap Chat and then TikTok, and how YouTube has also added Shorts to be more like TikTok. And personally, I’m generally not a fan of shorts. For me it’s like, no YouTube, be like yourself. There’s a reason people come to YouTube and not to TikTok and it’s precisely for the longer form content.

For Some, It’s A Nice Break Between Gaming Sessions.

This one channels images of a mom shouting, “Go outside!” to a kid whose been gaming for hours. Go be social.

It’s a real mark of the times when doing that doesn’t necessarily require going anywhere.

Maybe you’ve been gaming with friends and all of them are logging off, but you’d rather stay up and keep talking games with someone. Or maybe you’re taking a food break between gaming sessions and want someone to hang out with while you do that.

For When You’re Gaming, But When Gaming Is A Background Focus.

This reminds me of years ago chatting with friends on the phone late at night while playing games, or of staying up late at LAN parties gaming together in the same room.

In this case, Just Chatting is a way to game casually while having conversations, and where the conversations don’t necessarily have to have anything to do with the game. Everyone in the chat could be playing something different.

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