Large event Twitch chats are a blank canvas for the human id. Aggression, filth, comedy, occasional insight—all blasting by as though fired in unison from a thousand circus cannons. Despite this, they can be very... telling.
On a rather brilliant whim, dontstalkmepls decided to log every Twitch chat message during the recent DreamHack Masters Malmö Counter-Strike tournament. They then created a word cloud of the top 50 words:
Some of them make pretty immediate sense. NiP is the beloved team that went on to win the whole tournament. VAC is a reference to Valve’s anti-cheat system, and people like to jokingly say it when players pull off ridiculous plays. Kappa is a common expression of sarcasm on Twitch, usually via emoticon. But then things get a bit dicier. Anele, for instance, is an emoticon of Twitch Partnerships Lead Anele. People like to spam his face during moments involving bombs and terrorism (for instance, when a game score is 9-11). You know, because of his appearance. It’s not a super great meme.
Upon request, dontstalkmepls created another word cloud sans easily spammed emoticons, which skewed the data. Here’s that one:
Some team names (NiP, Godsend, Na’Vi, etc), jokes (bot, 123kappa), common words, and of course people saying, “sex,” which is often paired with “grill.”
You may or may not love it, but it’s kind of crazy that Twitch has developed a language of its own, and individual games have their own dialects. Sure, it’s mostly just in-jokes and memes, but this is how a lot of people watch some of the biggest games in the world.
It’s a little like going to a packed bar to catch the big game; it’s not always what you want to do, but there’s an authentic energy, a thrill to it. You can feed off that feeling, get psyched for match highs and rage or weep at the lows. Also, there are a lot of assholes, and you suspect most of them are drunk or just kinda make a general habit of ramming their heads into brick walls for a few hours each day. You take the good with the bad.
The thing that makes Twitch chat different—aside from the sheer number of people, I mean—is that it’s enabled by default. Being in a crowded bar is, obviously, not. And so eSports culture grows and evolves in lock-step with chats, much more rapidly than it might otherwise. It draws on Twitch’s tools on memes, too, further cementing the relationship between the cultures, up to and including their less wholesome (read: sometimes kinda shitty toward women and/or non-white folks) elements.
It’s interesting and exciting! It’s also ugly, upsetting, and fucking obnoxious sometimes. It’s a new frontier of sports, the most time-honored expression of the human id of them all.
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