Josh, or JoshOG, as he’s known on Twitch, says people often pigeonhole him as the stereotypical streamer who sits around all day playing video games and eating. But the life of a successful full-time streamer is much more that, as shown in "Game On," this week's cover story, especially at the level to which Josh has risen. It requires a tight schedule and helping hands.
“Believe it or not, I would say, as a streamer, it would be very, very hard for you, yourself, to run a whole stream if you have over 200K followers, because there is so much involved in this,” says Josh, who has about a million followers. At any given time during his stream, he’ll have between 5,000 and 13,000 active viewers. Since this story went to print, he moved up a spot and is the fourteenth most-followed gamer in the U.S., according to socialblade.com, a site that tracks content creators on social media.
“It’s like a little baby business,” he explains. “It grows. It gets to a point where it’s just so overwhelming and stressful for that one person, there’s no way they could handle it all.”
Josh streams from the second floor of his downtown Denver apartment seven days a week for eleven hours a day. On Thursdays he might do a short, four-hour stream so he can have dinner out, he says. But usually he keeps a tight schedule.
He wakes up every day around 2:40 p.m. At some point he talks with his “gaming-influencer manager,” who helps him with his day-to-day operations, like responding to e-mails and sponsorship requests and going through the 200-some tweets he gets a day. He also helps manage Josh’s schedule when he’s on the road for events.
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Before Josh starts his stream, at 3:30 p.m., he plans it out for the day. He’ll decide which games he’s going to play and for how long, so he can tell his audience what to expect. Josh will play two or three games of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, each lasting a half-hour or 45 minutes, then switch to another game. Along with his PC, he has PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii and Xbox consoles from which to stream new releases. He also has a virtual-reality gaming area set up; he believes that VR is the future of gaming.
Josh also has a personal assistant, a childhood friend who moved to Colorado from North Carolina with him a year and a half ago. The assistant usually makes breakfast for Josh, who eats during the stream’s introduction. During the intro, he’ll field questions and comments from his audience members, who communicate with him via chat. By 7 p.m., Josh’s assistant is back upstairs with his dinner, which Josh eats while streaming. By four or five in the morning, Josh heads downstairs for some fruit and goes to bed. “There’s a key to streaming,” he notes. “A lot of people run intermissions, and it hurts the stream a lot.” Twitch viewership is different from YouTube’s, Josh explains. On YouTube, people watch quick, one-to-two-minute videos, but on Twitch, people are watching for thirty or sixty minutes at a time. An intermission gives them an excuse to move on to another channel. He estimates his Counter-Strike: Global Offensive playtime at over 5,000 hours; the game was released in August 2012. Over the past year, Josh says, he’s streamed for 3,750 hours — over 158 days, if he were playing 24 hours a day.
He insists that his day-to-day routine doesn’t become redundant, thanks to his audience: “The amount of love in the chat and how community-based it is, that’s what it’s all about. I streamed CS for twelve hours a day for a year and a half, and it’s the same thing every day, but the only different factor between every day is the chat and the community. That’s the only reason I can do it again — because they make it different every day.”
Josh started streaming in February 2014; for the next year and a half, he says, he was a nobody, watching other big streamers for guidance. His main game was and still is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He marketed himself by telling all of his friends, hoping they would promote him, and posted about himself in every gaming forum he knew of. By the end of the summer, the 23-year-old had 50,000 followers and dropped out of college to stream full-time. “I ended up getting banned from all of [the forums],” Josh admits. “But I would say it worked.”