During these strange lockdown times, many of us have turned to the internet for entertainment. From streaming movies to wasting our lives watching people reacting to songs on YouTube, there is a plethora of content available out there.
Twitch has rapidly become the go-to place for many of us when looking for distractions and has often replaced TV watching as the entertainment media of choice; we’ve been enjoying flicking around the various channels and watching a variety of different streams.
For those not in the know (I can’t imagine anyone reading this site wouldn’t be), Twitch is a video streaming service that allows people to stream video games, mainly, but has slowly seen a rise in other subjects also being streamed.
So you can watch someone play a video game and interact with them and fellow viewers, if their chat stream is open, and you can choose to follow and subscribe to their account if it takes your fancy. There are some great communities that have built up and 99.9% of them are welcoming to new people. There are thousands of streamers these days because it is so very easy to run a basic stream; the PS4 allows you to do it at the touch of a button, for example. Of course, the majority of these are bobbins but there is some gold out there.
There are some well-known streamers and video games are still what the majority of streams cover, but there are some other things being covered, from people singing to comedians to people working and simply streaming their day, but here are a few you may have missed and that we enjoy:
If you like tabletop gaming and board games, this is worth checking out. It’s the Twitch channel for Gen Con, the longest-running gaming & hobby convention in North America. It’s been running for 53 years and is now on Twitch.
They broadcast tabletop gaming news, live play and also run online how-to-play sessions for a huge variety of games. They also investigate the history of game developers and have run some fascinating stuff on their channel.
Watch Gen Con on Twitch here.
THE ALEX FAMILY
What started as a purely character-based twitch stream has turned into something more random and personal.
Originally, the paranormal investigator David Babcock was all these streams were about; he’d channel ghosts (Elvis would often enter him in the afternoon) and he would sometimes do Twitch Sings (their version of karaoke). However, for the most part, he would stream Microsoft Flight Simulator and take the viewers on tourist flights in large passenger jets as the chat descended into chaos as they argued about who had used the plane’s toilet last and who on board was a spy.
Now, however, the wackier characters have taken a sideline (they must be on holiday or something) and he has been on cam as himself, just chatting to viewers about his mental health or watching and commenting on YouTube videos. If you want to see confused people on Twitch watching steeplejack Fred Dibnah scale a chimney, this is the place for you!
Watch The Alex Family on Twitch here.
TLNA WITH IAIN LEE AND KATHERINE BOYLE
The Late Night Alternative started on the radio but has now moved to Twitch and it’s fantastic; Iain (yes, the award-winning radio host who stole some strawberries on I’m A Celeb once) and his wonderfully erudite co-host Katherine are the hosts of this phone-in show. They are best friends and it shows. There are no topics and the show ebbs-and-flows as things come up. Callers can ring in about anything, from Iain’s battles with addiction and depression to arguments about which Beatle they could beat in a fight. There’s nothing else like it and it’s on weekdays from 9pm-midnight. There is nothing else like it. Open, honest, hilarious and moving.
Iain also sometimes does afternoon streams where he plays video games and they’re worth checking out too.
Watch TLNA with Iain Lee and Katerine Boyle on Twitch here.
RANDOM BRITISH DUDE
RBD has slowly become a legendary streamer and if you’ve not yet jumped on his hype train get in there before he really takes off.
He streams video games, sure, but that’s just a small part of his appeal; from singing and jokes to discussing his real life and allowing his family to come on stream (his Mum is hilarious) he is brilliant company and endlessly cheerful; I guarantee you’ll be smiling after a few moments of any given stream of his.
Watch Random British Dude on Twitch here.
WHAT’S ON THE TAPES?
This is hosted by a guy called Pete who goes through old VHS tapes and shows what’s on them. It sounds dull but it’s surprisingly entertaining and you never know what is coming up next; from old movies or episodes of long-forgotten TV shows to classic adverts such as the Gold Blend ads starring Giles from Buffy. Pete is a great host, both laid back and funny, and although he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of tv he allows a wide range of subjects to be discussed in the chat.
Watch What’s on the Tapes? on Twitch here.
Although you’ll get some community-based gaming here (you can join in the games if you have the means), the big draw here is his Saturday morning show where he streams classic cartoons and kids’ tv shows from The Mysterious Cities of Gold and Count Duckula to CD:TV with Ant and Dec. He covers a lot of subjects in the chat and is very open about his own mental health battles. He’s a great guy and deserves your attention.
Watch MONKeEeYboi on Twitch here.
Terry is an impressionist and comedian (he was the star of his own sitcom, The Mimic, on Channel Four) who hosts gaming streams, but also streams where he watches old retro movies (Biggles, Hammer Horror, etc) and has also taken us on virtual tours around various global cities. He’s a great host, very funny, and we enjoy his streams a lot.
Watch Terry Mynott on Twitch here.
This is simply a guy working in a sweet shop and chatting to his camera and it is great! He is an engaging host, witty and charming, and it’s a nice way to spend some time.
Watch Anatomical Bomb on Twitch here.
NERDY SINGER KAYT
Kayt is a performer who sings songs and plays music from video games, movies and TV shows from Disney classics to the Buffy soundtrack to the Assassin’s Creed theme and more. She’s an infectious streamer and the streams I have seen have always been fun.
Watch Nerdy Singer Kayt on Twitch here.
As we have said, there are thousands of streamers on Twitch but there are some great communities out there so if you’ve never taken a look now is the time! Jump in, find a subject or genre or game you’re interested in, watch a streamer and get involved in the chat. It’s a great way to chat with people and during these weird times, it has become essential for many of us who get lonely and sometimes just need some distracting conversation.
Give it a go and, you never know, you may be tempted to stream yourself!