Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitch is difficult to describe, to understand, and to start using. It is also incredibly rewarding once you get the hang of it, which is the way these things tend to go: the harder it is to get into something, the more you’ll like your mastery of it. I’ve been writing about Twitch and its various ecosystems for a little while now, and lately more and more people have been reaching out to me to ask variations on the same two questions: What is Twitch, and why should I care about it? How do I start streaming?

The answers to those two questions, I think, capture the entirety of the Twitch experience; contained between them is a whole universe of streamers, emotes, games, communities, and gear. I figured I should take some time to explain,…

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