Winnipeg’s Twitch community hop back online

‘Fantastic’ and ‘supportive’ streaming community stays strong during COVID

Local Twitch streamers at the last in-person Winnipeg Community MeetUp. The events have since moved online.

Usually, it’s considered creepy to make a new friend by staring at them while they play video games in their room. But on Twitch, a live-streaming platform known for video-game streams with an emphasis on online community, it’s encouraged.

The Winnipeg Community MeetUp group (powered by Twitch) is “a collection of broadcasters with varying interest across all platforms of the industry.”

The group began in 2015 as a way to bring people together in person, with small groups going bowling or grabbing food and talking streaming, Samantha Requeima, lead organizer of Winnipeg MeetUps, says.

“It totally expanded into something beyond that,” she says, adding the events grew from a handful of people to hosting over 100 by 2019.

The goal of meetups for the Twitch Winnipeg community are “to make this hobby into a community and to build a connection and support system with each other,” Requeima says.

Participating in the community doesn’t guarantee viral growth in stream views, but they do guarantee friendships and connections with other folks who enjoy streaming and want to help each other improve, Requeima says.

“Twitch has a great way of bringing people together,” Sakura Tsubasa, a Twitch partner and Winnipeg MeetUp admin, says.

Tsubasa has made lasting friendships from the Twitch Winnipeg community, because “we share a common interest in gaming, and I think that’s really beneficial for ... everyone,” she says, adding the community has been especially beneficial during COVID-19.

The community is a “fantastic group of people” that includes chat moderators, volunteers and respectful community members who provide each other with tech support, gaming groups and networking, Tsubasa says. They also offer collaborating opportunities that can “help with stream growth in the long-term.” 

Tsubasa’s first stream was for a 24-hour Extra Life marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in Manitoba. After that, she continued streaming, and her content evolved from there, she says. 

The Winnipeg MeetUp group is a not-for-profit, so money made within the community goes back in to support events for members. The group often raises money for local charities and does Extra Life streams, which they have continued throughout the pandemic. 

The group is “more equipped than most” to bring their offline meetups back online, because the community already stemmed from connecting with each other online, Requeima says. “It’s been an absolute thrill to help build it up and to keep it sustained during quarantine.” 

The admins are bringing their community together during COVID over Discord, which is “a voice, video and text communication service” that facilitates online communities and is often used by gamers.

Connecting through Discord “consists of hosting game nights within the community, having chat constantly going with interesting topics and encouraging others to share things going on in their lives,” Requeima says. “(I) want to get everybody as connected as possible right now. Quarantine (can) be so lonely.”

Learn more about Winnipeg Community MeetUp @twitchwinnipeg on Instagram or meetups.twitch.tv/winnipeg/. Find Tsubasa’s streams at SakuraTsubasa on Twitch.

Published in Volume 75, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 31, 2021)

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