Meet the Twitch streamers tackling Christmas loneliness

A man sits facing the camera while smiling wearing headphones and festive sparkly green reindeer antlers
Image caption,John is one of thousands of streamers going live on Christmas Day on Twitch

What are you doing this Christmas Day? Opening presents? Cooking a big dinner?

How about preparing to go live, streaming your favourite games?

That’s what thousands on platforms like Twitch and YouTube will be doing, as they bring their communities together over the holidays

For many it’s a chance to tackle loneliness and bring a smile to those who might not be having such a jolly Christmas.

Millions watch their favourite streamers online every day, and will be keeping up the habit on 25 December.

Some might ask why people take time away from their own families to broadcast live, sometimes to just a handful of fans.

John, known as En_Djinn, tells BBC Newsbeat the main reason is to give back to his followers who might not have anyone else to spend the day with.

He streamed for an hour and a half last Christmas, and will be doing it again this year.

“Twitch is all about creating a community, and that community never feels stronger than around the holiday period,” he says.

John, who mostly streams the game Hearthstone, has followers around the world and says there are particular groups, such as some fans in Kharkiv, Ukraine, who he’s particularly keen to connect with.

“My community are such lovely people who support me,” he says.

“I’ve just come out of full-time education and I’m looking for a job. They allow me to live a fairly independent life while I’m searching.”

John does admit that it’s not only the sense of goodwill that gets so many streamers online over Christmas – it’s more lucrative to go live in December thanks to extra financial incentives provided by Twitch.

“As content creators we’re always looking for ways to sort of survive. It’s a job with very long and uneven hours and no income security,” he says.

A woman with brown hair pulled back smiles at the camera qith her hand on the side of her face.
Image caption,Carrie says she hopes her streams can provide a safe space while also raising money for good causes

Carrie, known as Celestina to her fans, is one of the streamers who says it’s important for them to go live on 25 December.

She describes her channel as “comfy, cosy chaos” and a safe space for followers – many of whom are gay or trans – who might not be accepted by or get on with their families.

“You always want to be welcoming, you always want to be caring,” she says.

“Having a place to just exist without pressure, especially during the holidays, is a real gift.”

But ’tis also the season for giving, and Carrie will also be using her streams, most likely playing Pokémon, to raise money for charitable causes local to her.

“When I started out, I wanted to be a force for good,” she says. “There are so many people and groups that need the support.”

She’s also keen to make sure her followers who don’t celebrate Christmas aren’t left out.

“For some people, it’s just a Monday,” she says.

A man with short, dark tousled hair wears a high-necked zip-up fleece as he stands, smiling, in front of a tree decorated with bright purple lights.
Image caption,Sam says he takes a lot from knowing that his streams help people

Carrie isn’t alone in wanting to tackle loneliness and raise money for good causes, it’s something Sam is particularly passionate about too.

In the past he’s partnered with the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a suicide prevention charity he says saved his life when he was facing particularly tough times.

This month he also used his streams as part of the UK-wide event Jingle Jam to fundraise more than £7,000 for the charity. In total more than £2m was raised during for good causes during the festive-themed event.

Sam says Christmas is a time of year when people can be at their most vulnerable.

“A Twitch streamer can make that person’s day, even make that person’s year. It gives them someone to talk to,” he says.

While Sam won’t be able to go live on Christmas Day this year, he’s asked others who are to let him know so his community isn’t alone.

“It’s such a warm feeling knowing http://gayunggoyang.com/ that you’ve helped someone get through the day, because you never know what people are facing,” he says.

“And you never know what demons people are going up against.

“But if I can put a smile on someone’s face, then that makes my day as well.”

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