I recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with Ari, better known as Rentheory, the personality behind a small Twitch channel. With roughly 1100 followers and an average of 15-20 viewers per stream, Ari’s channel may be far from the most watched and subscribed to on Twitch, but she maintains the fun of it all by fostering a tight-knit community with her viewers and keeping true to herself. I wanted to ask her about her experiences with Twitch as both a young woman and a small streamer, hoping she could provide a different perspective than those found in all the large Twitch channels commonly interviewed.
Why don’t we start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?
How did you get into streaming?
I had been thinking about it for a few months before I started, but I never really decided to start. Around the end of last year I was going through some emotional turmoil caused by people in my life, and I think I just decided to take initiative for myself and what I was doing, so I took a few days to learn how to set up a stream and I just took the leap in early February.
Did you find it difficult to start off in such a crowded industry such as streaming?
No not really, I think the most important thing is that I went into it with no expectations. I didn’t expect to be successful overnight, let alone have any viewers my very first stream. I was actually really surprised and nervous during my first stream when the first few people came in, since I’m a shy person, it was a little nerve-racking but I’m glad I went through with streaming even after that. I think only if you have high expectations and want instant gratification, then streaming might be intimidating to get into, but as long as you’re doing it because you enjoy it I don’t think anyone should be afraid to try.
Well said! Do you aspire to be one of the bigger channels, or maybe become a full-time streamer?
I do hope to see more growth for my channel of course, but I expect that to go at whichever speed it does, eventually I want to be partnered so that my channel can have more content to it. As of right now I have both work and school, so I’m not investing all my hope into streaming as a career just to be safe, but if I were able to safely become a full-time streamer I would love to.
How do you stay motivated as a smaller channel? Do you ever get discouraged?
I try to let my channel success speak for itself. If I’m seeing a lot of growth because I’m streaming a lot or doing new things, I take note of it. If I’m seeing a decline in viewers or chat participation because I’ve been away for a while or do repetitive things, I’m try to be aware of it so that I can figure out a way to improve my stream. I don’t get discouraged because I don’t really expect anything, all I can do is put my time and effort into my channel and work with what I’m given
Do you feel like your being a young woman has had any positive or negative affect on your channel’s success? Have you faced any difficulties due to your gender?
I have constantly been given comments about being successful because of my gender, and to be fair I can see that more traffic was given to me because I was a girl streaming in the LoL category, but the fact of the matter is that people may come in because I am a girl, but if they don’t like my content or what I’m doing they won’t stick around no matter what I look like. Being a girl on twitch means that I deal with trolls in chat, get called awful names by people who have known of my existence for 5 seconds, and get criticized for my channel content no matter what I do, but I’ve never been the type of person to let anyone’s opinion of me stop me from being me. The community that I’ve built was created from the love and dedication that I have for streaming, and when I feel any type of sadness related to my channel, I just think about how many friendships, laughs, and memories have been made because of what I do. There is a whole group of people that have a place to be themselves, including me, and I would take any amount of trolling to keep my community together
With that kind of attitude, I can definitely see how you’ve maintained such a tight-knit community of viewers. Is something you’re proud of? Are there any negatives that come with being close to your fans the way you are, like maybe some of them expecting a closer relationship (platonic or otherwise) with you?
Yes, I think it’s important to have a sense of satisfaction for the things you do, and I’m always happy that I have this community of people in my life. Of course talking to people one on one can be a little hard sometimes, because some people want to have a personal relationship grow into something more, and I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings at all but some people do forget that I am not on Twitch to find a romantic relationship. However, I don’t think I have had a bad experience with explaining that, most people are understanding when they see the situation for what it is.
As a smaller channel, how do you feel about the streaming industry as a whole? Do you feel there are improvements that can or should be made, or do you think Twitch is doing well all around?
I think Twitch is doing pretty well, everyone has a fair chance of making it as a big streamer with the right support. I know the implementation of the affiliate program is no longer optional, but overall it’s more successful to smaller channels because we now have an opportunity to earn Twitch revenue and show them that our channels have support on their platform before trying to get partnered. I think the biggest complaint I hear against Twitch, is that they partner girl streamers who have revealing webcams or post content that shows off their bodies, but I think that’s mostly the streamers choice. The content you provide decides the community that you will build, so I’m not sure why anyone complains about anyone else’s channel content.
I would imagine people complain about content like that because people view it as “cheating” when someone uses their body instead gaming or personality for views. Some say it gives girl streamers a bad rep.
I don’t really see it that way, because the people that go in to view that content are going for a reason. And like I said, the community is formed from the content, so those streams usually have less enjoyable communities. I think if someone doesn’t enjoy watching something they should just turn away from it, I don’t think that it reflects all girl streamers and it definitely doesn’t bother me that girls choose to have those types of streams either. When looking for streams I check out anything that looks enjoyable, I don’t pay much mind to the gender of the streamer or their level of attractiveness.
I think that over the years it’s grown to be a more normal thing in gaming communities sadly, but that’s a personal choice that someone makes. Toxicity and trolling over the internet has existed since it began, so it seems natural that it would spread to gaming as well, unfortunately it’s just something we all have to deal with.
Alright, and final question. For anyone reading this who wants to get into streaming, what would you tell them?
Just try it! If you start with nothing, you have nothing to lose. It may not happen in one week or one month, but you will see growth and success eventually. Being recognized on the internet is SUPER hard, not everyone can be a famous meme or an Instagram model, but everyone can have their own little channel surrounded by people who enjoy the same things as them.
All photos used with permission of Rentheory.