Non-gamers out there may not have heard of Twitch, but in the video gaming world, it’s a big thing. It’s so big that now Amazon has fought off Google’s bid and bought Twitch for nearly $970 million. Analysts speculate that Amazon’s strategy revolves around gaining access to Twitch’s coveted demographic (heavily skewed young, affluent, and male) and the advertising dollars that go with it.

Twitch.tv is a website that offers videos of people playing video games. That’s right. Gamers love to watch other people play. Why?

Sometimes they want to learn how to play better, and sometimes they watch just because it’s entertaining. Streamers include elite professional esports players as well as Jane Doe Gamer in her room, quipping merrily and interacting with audience members while she plays.

The whopping size of the gaming market has resulted in Twitch amassing 55 million unique viewers a month, making Twitch one of the top 15 websites in the world. Popular Twitch streamers can apply for partnership and make ad revenue off of their streams. Some people make their living on Twitch.

Parents—even parents who aren’t interested in video games—should know about Twitch, because kids know about it. They may watch a favorite gamer or a favorite channel.

Twitch has  rules of conduct, but as on the rest of the Wild West internets, stuff happens live on Twitch—stuff like bad language, drunkenness, and other adult behavior.

While Twitch’s terms of service state that “…the Twitch Service is not available to persons under the age of 13…” and anyone under 18 must be “supervised by a parent” or guardian, Twitch doesn’t police the use of its service. They assume that if you use Twitch, you’re certifying that you are at least 13.

There’s lots of good stuff on Twitch: female gamers, funny gamers, and accomplished gamers. But it’s a good idea to watch with your kids and be aware of Twitch. It’s certainly here to stay.

Linda Breneman

Linda Breneman

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.