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In 2016, Twitch added a new streaming category called IRL — and, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. IRL (in real life) streamers broadcast themselves going about their everyday lives — doing things like traveling, working or partaking in their favorite hobbies — and viewers tune in to learn, engage and be entertained.
Though IRL streaming is relatively new — Twitch’s former parent company Justin.tv Inc focused on “lifecasting” when it was first founded in 2007, but the company moved away from that content when it became Twitch Interactive — there are already streamers who are making a full-time job out of it.
One such IRL streamer who has turned their day-in-the-life videos into a full-time gig is Joey Kaotyk (pronounced “chaotic”). Previously the Taiwan native worked at Tiffany & Co. — but after two years at that job, he decided that he wanted to do something more rewarding.
“I was so comfortable at the time where it’s like, I’m making enough money where I can raise a family, but I was like, I don’t want this to be it. I want to do more,” the 29-year-old explained to In The Know. After having this revelation, he quit his job and traveled all over Asia for two-and-a-half months on the hurt for a burst of inspiration.
Joey didn’t find what he was looking for while gallivanting all over Asia — but he did find it shortly afterward when a friend invited him to attend E3, an annual computer and video game conference held in Los Angeles.
While at E3, Joey was introduced to the concept of Twitch IRL — and in that moment, he decided he was going to be a full-time IRL streamer. Joey even joked that while at the conference, he introduced himself to people as an up-and-coming streamer — even though he had yet to actually stream.
“After [my friend] introduced me to Twitch IRL and [had] me meet all these Twitch streamers I was just like, whoa, these people are rockstars,” he explained. “Instead of playing video games, I can livestream my life.”
‘I’m always that guy with the loud voice’
Joey’s first stream took place on July 7, 2017. Since then, the streamer has amassed more than 79,000 followers on Twitch, not to mention partnerships with brands like UnlimitedIRL.
So what’s the secret to Joey’s success?
“I’m always that guy with the energy, I’m always that guy with the loud voice,” he explained. The nomad says that his followers often comment on his infectious energy and radiating positivity, which keeps them coming back for more.
Another big draw of Joey’s stream is his breakdancing. The streamer is also a professional B-boy who travels the world with his crew, Gorilla Warfare.
“When I dance, it kind of really amplifies my character,” Joey explained. “I want [my followers] to enjoy the process of the grind of the behind-the-scenes and what it takes to … win another championship or win another title.”
Between breakdancing competitions and traveling around the world with his friends, Joey has streamed from six countries so far: the U.S., Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. By streaming while he travels and competes, Joey hopes to expose his tens of thousands of followers to a world that they might not otherwise see.
“We try to do our best to travel the world and provide different content for people that are not familiar with the countries that I’m in,” Joey said. “I want to bring them into a culture that I want to give back to.”
‘Technology is not there for us yet’
When Joey was just starting out back in 2017, he streamed directly from his cell phone. About a year into using Twitch, though, he decided to invest in some more hi-tech equipment — and it’s made all the difference.
As an IRL streamer, Joey’s streaming set-up is extremely unique. In order to create quality content on the go, he largely relies on his 10-pound UnlimitedIRL mobile WiFi backpack, which uses multiple SIM cards from multiple cell phone providers in case one provider has spotty service.
When he’s out and about streaming, Joey also has with him a portable JBL Clip 3 Bluetooth speaker and a Sony Action Cam. Sadly, none of his equipment is waterproof, so he has to be especially careful on days when it might rain or snow.
Though Joey has upgraded his equipment since he started streaming, he noted that he faces significantly more problems with his more complicated set-up — and often longs for the days when he streamed directly from his cell phone.
“Sometimes [the] camera’s not detecting, sometimes the wire’s not completely in … Even to this day, we can’t figure out all of the troubleshooting,” he explained. “I miss streaming on a cell phone. I think having a cell phone stream is the best thing ever.”
‘Twitch is now, to me, it’s my home’
When Joey first started on Twitch, he felt like an outsider. After more than three years on the platform, though, he says that it’s become comfortingly familiar to him — and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I’m very grateful to be able to be on this platform,” he said. “Honestly I feel like my content probably would fit on YouTube better, but I don’t think I would have as much fun being on YouTube vs. on Twitch.”
“I’m finding a lot more joy understanding Twitch more because being on this platform, technically I’m an outsider and after I learned about the cultures and the memes, it really opened my eyes,” he continued. “It allowed me to be closer to what I do every day and created that feeling of, hey, you know, Twitch is now, to me, it’s my home.”
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