Twitch Venezuela and the Rise of Local Streamers

The pandemic ignited a social relief that became a business and a sort of profession, as long as technology decides. We talked to the very famous stars of gaming-related Venezuelan scene on Twitch

The easiest way to describe Twitch is that it’s quite similar to what Periscope used to be. It allows users, called streamers, to create live videos while audiences react on a simultaneous chat. Despite being able to find content related to sports commentary, podcasts, political discussions, and even musicians, the heart of Twitch is in the video game world. When you enter the site, you can find screens with players trying to outlast 100 people in a Fortnite match, building elaborate Minecraft sculptures, or pulling off a heist in Grand Theft Auto. 

In the middle of the matches, there’s an emerging group of Venezuelan streamers, often referred to as Twitch Venezuela, who are rapidly growing and creating a new avenue for connection for digital audiences both in the country and abroad.

It’s hard to pinpoint when Twitch Venezuela started. The platform is roughly 10 years old and there’s been Venezuelan creators streaming all throughout. However, the creators at the forefront of this wave of notoriety started during the pandemic. This was the case of Gabriella Suárez, known on the platform as FeirlyGab: “I started using Twitch during the lockdown. At first, I only watched English creators and started streaming in English.” 

Slowly, after a few years of streaming, she later added in an interview in Caracas Chronicles, her focus started to turn to Spanish language content. “With events like the SquidCraft Games, La Velada, or the QSMP, a Minecraft server with direct translation, I noticed that the Spanish-speaking community was giant and innovative, and I wanted to be part of that. So, I launched a TikTok of one of my streams full of Venezuelan humor, and it was a hit.”

Just as creators were exploring this new outlet, audiences were looking for entertainment while they were all locked at home. So they started hopping into Twitch: “During the pandemic, the audience boomed. Many people tuned in and stayed. This is how my community came together, and I’m so grateful for them,” said Suzana El Antarazi, who streams under the name Tutituu.

El Antarazi had been playing games for years; however, she was quite shy about sharing this hobby with her classmates, who encouraged her to start streaming after seeing her Fortnite skills. One of the most common ways of being successful on the platform is to show enough dexterity in a game that draws audiences in. However, Twitch is more than just playing video games well. It’s about directly interacting with the audience in the chat, who can comment, give advice, or react to the game and receive immediate feedback from the streamer, thus creating a sense of connection between those watching and those playing.

Viewing streams like those of Tutituu or FeirlyGab is an experience that resembles playing video games with friends. Not necessarily the multiplayer matches, but the moments where people would take turns watching each other in single-player games, and in the midst of it, chat about life, current events, or just sit quietly while watching a friend try to defeat a challenging boss and react with humor when they fail. 

In the case of Twitch Venezuela, Venezuelan audiences relate to the topics, the references, and even the curse words and continue tuning in. Gabriella believes that this was instrumental to her success on Twitch: “When I started, there were Venezuelan streamers, but not that many. There were people doing jokes that were characteristically Venezuelan, but there weren’t many women. So I put out something that wasn’t very common, and people latched on to that.”

However, as with any content creation job, playing and joking are not enough, and many streamers also rely on other platforms like TikTok or Instagram to draw users in. Alfonso, who streams under the name Rowre_, emphasized this by saying, “There is a lot of luck involved. I have a median of 200 people joining on each stream at a time, but many friends who started at the same time can’t pass the barrier of 10 spectators. It’s important to highlight that I also relied on other platforms like TikTok to create a community and a call for them to join the channel,” he said.

In fact, sometimes the clips of the streams have more traction on other platforms than on Twitch itself. Rowre_’s streams usually oscillate between 1,000 and 2,000 views, but on TikTok, the clips often reach millions of views. A similar case happens with FeirlyGab or Tutituu. This social media notoriety is gaining the attention of brands, which have partnered with him and, in addition to the proximity with his family and the impact he started to feel in his community, eventually made Rowre_ return to Venezuela after years abroad: “I realized the impact I had as a content creator. People recognized me and asked for photos, something that had never happened in France.”

The growth of Twitch Venezuela is not only defined by brand partnerships. Streamers are also being invited to participate in international Twitch events like El DEDSafio, a series of international competitions organized by the Mexican streamer ElDed. Both FeirlyGab and Rowre_ have participated. Tutituu has even won one: “I didn’t even think I was going to be invited, and I was so excited just to be there. Winning meant so much. Not only because of the money, but just the fact that so many people were watching.” 

Moreover, just this year, FeirlyGab was one of the celebrity team captains, among footballer Renny Vega, the actor Coquito, sports commentator Maria Alexandra Bastidas, in Vacílate Esto’s Pelotica de Goma tournament, a sportstainment tournament that gave the professional treatment to the traditional Venezuelan game.

Yet, Twitch Venezuela is not isolated from the challenges facing the country. Streamers often have to traverse low-quality Internet or electricity blackouts. “I’m working on not feeling frustrated. If there’s a blackout or the Internet is slow and I can’t stream, then I try the next day,” said Tutituu. Rowre_ shared a similar feeling but also mentioned that he tries to find a silver lining: “I try to find the good in the bad. So when power runs out, I grab my phone and make content for other things and come up with other ideas.”

Beyond the humor, the international events, and the brand partnerships, Twitch Venezuela is also a breeding ground for collaborations. Streamers often show up in each other’s channels and play together or participate in social media games. Recently several met up during the Venezuela Game Show. All off this ends up having a multiplier effect in their respective communities and allows for everyone to grow, which is very important for FeirlyGab: “I want us to grow together; I’m not interested in growing by myself because, at the end of the day, if I grow and Twitch Venezuela is small then you might still find xenophobic comments, or people that don’t understand your work. So, it’s vital to have a great network of people doing similar things.” 

In addition, Rowre_ mentioned that he is part of a group that calls itself “Venecogang” that often collaborates, but he also stated that there are exciting events with the broader Twitch Venezuela community coming on the horizon: “Later this month, 50 Venezuelan content creators are participating in a Minecraft event organized by Panter Gaming Arena and Venecup.” He later added: “More and more, Venezuelan creators are doing their part to build our community and I’m sure that we will soon be in the international eye for our humor and the quality of our work.”

Image: Gabriel Pezzi/Venezuela Game Show