An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Stephen Flavall makes his living by playing video games to an audience of thousands on Twitch. When he first started streaming, he only had about fifteen people at a time watching him. He liked how he could engage with a small community, cracking jokes while people cheered him on. Unfortunately, the vibe changed as his popularity grew. “Around 200 viewers was when it started getting exhausting,” says Flavall. “Now I have like 2,000 viewers [at a time] and when that many people are asking you questions and telling you what to do, it becomes absolutely unmanageable. I started having anxiety, bordering on full panic attacks.” Flavall’s gotten to a better place now, but his story isn’t unique. Burnout is on the rise across the country, even for those whose work is — quite literally — play.
While professional video gaming can sound like an enviable gig, it’s not too different from being a performer. Streamers have an audience, a persona, and act in the same role for long hours. Streamers can’t really take breaks, either. They risk their fanbase losing interest during a stream and logging off. Since they’re self-employed, they can’t rely on paid vacation, or sick leave. That leaves streamers wondering how to navigate making an income that isn’t an official “job.” […] Twitch audiences can also demand that streamers play games they may have soured on. Haelian, another Twitch streamer known for playing rogue-likes, got tired of trying to escape the underworld of Hades day-in and day-out. But that game made his stream popular, and his fans weren’t pleased. […]
Twitch’s competitive culture also fans the flames. It’s not just that a streamer can tire of a game or rude viewers; they can also fall victim to a pervasive “always on” mentality. Taylor Chou, Director of Talent Management at Evil Geniuses, an esports and gaming entertainment company, says that Twitch can be a pretty toxic work environment. “When you’re a streamer, you truly know that every single second that you are not online, grinding, posting, streaming — somebody [else] is,” Chou says. “That’s a lot of pressure for people to learn how to manage.” Chou also says that communicating with your audience and having a support system is key to mitigating streamer burnout. “Most of the best ways to deal with burnout start with a support system,” says Chou. “When you’re a streamer, make sure that your community has a sense that this is a person they’re watching.” But that kind of structure can take years to build, and while fans have rallied around streamers, they can just as often stress or even harass them. That leaves many burnt out and on their way to signing off for good. Further reading: Deadly Swatting Increasing On Twitch; Alarmed Streamers Press For Change (Ars Technica)