It’s the start of a new year and once again, I set goals for the year. These are different than “resolutions” as I fully intend on meeting them. Some of these goals are the same from year to year: get in better shape, spend more time with my family, work smarter (not necessarily harder), decrease expenses, increase revenue, be the change I want to see in the world, end world hunger, get a super power… and this year I added a new goal to the list. I will walk 1,000 miles in 2011. Instead of approaching this goal rationally, like I’m prone to do for any project, I wanted to apply the ideas in the book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori and Rom Brafum. If I behave irrationally naturally, as the authors point out, I may as well behave irrationally in a way that helps achieve my objectives.
Anybody have a grown-up son who spends the day and night playing video games? I think a lot of us do. Ever wonder if they could at least make a living from gaming? As gaming continues to grow as a spectator sport, these three friends from Florida make a living without leaving their couch.
From nine to five, seven days a week, Robert Schill plays video games while sitting on a plush, brown sofa in central Florida.
Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people watch. His web channel has more than 35 million hits in one year.
And Schill gets paid for it.
He’s a shift worker, a laborer in a brave and strange new economy that rewards a Big Brother-like existence combined with entrepreneurial pluck.
Schill’s not alone in this venture, not even in his own home. When the 26-year-old ginger-haired Schill finishes his shift, he unplugs his game controller and his roommate, 29-year-old Adam Young, sinks into the sofa and plays until 1 a.m. Then a third roommate, Brett Borden, 26, clocks in for his eight-hour shift.
They are the stars of StreamerHouse. They broadcast via Twitch.tv, an online network that attracts tens of millions of visitors, most of whom watch footage of other people playing video games.
StreamerHouse is set in a 1920s-era Mediterranean-revival home graced with 20 cameras, at least 15 computer screens and two bulldogs (Mister Pig and Baby Pig). It’s part reality TV, part talk radio and part performance art. The trio play games, chat with fans and narrate their daily lives into an expensive microphone setup.
They make money from a cut of Twitch advertising, subscriptions, video game sales and from fan donations.
In October, one admirer from the Middle East gave StreamerHouse $6,000.
StreamerHouse capitalizes on a cultural moment that demands engagement and intimacy with everyone from celebrities tweeting pictures of their newborns to friends and family posting Facebook photos of breakfast.
The StreamerHouse guys deliver with an intimate, non-stop show where they interact with fans in real time.
There’s something genius about this.
“I live on the Internet, man,” joked Schill, known as “The Real Deal,” and “Rober” online. His fans recently sent him a guitar and a memory foam mattress. Fans routinely send pizzas, candy and t-shirts. All three “streamers” admit their career prospects would be bleak outside the house. None have college degrees and all have been gaming since they were boys.
Twitch has more than 8,500 similar streamers in its affiliate program–which means the game players receive ad revenue. All streamers can solicit donations–although StreamerHouse’s 24/7 broadcast is unique.
There’s an appetite to watch gamers. YouTube’s most subscribed channel belongs to Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, a Swede known online as PewDiePie. He is a video game commentator, much like the StreamerHouse guys, and has over 32 million subscribers.
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